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Breathing Fresh Life into an Inherited Ben Wade “The Gem” from the Year 1900!


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

It’s been a while since I have worked on any of my grandfather’s pipe collection that I have inherited after his demise a few years ago. Amongst the collection, this small quaint Ben Wade was beckoning me for a long time. It is now that I decided to work on it. I had one Ben Wade without a stem, that Steve had taken back to Canada from his visit to India to fashion a stem from his bag of spares. This prompted me to fish out this Ben Wade and work towards its restoration.

This small sized straight Bulldog is typically classic British shape, with a diamond shank and a horn stem with a threaded bone tenon. The shank end is decorated with a sterling silver ferrule with embossed leaves, which is loose and came off easily. On this ferrule are the stamp details which will help in determining the vintage of this pipe. The silver shank ferrule is stamped as “A & Co” over a series of three hallmarks running from the left near the bowl end to the end of the shank on the right.The first hallmark is an “Anchor” in a shield shaped cartouche and identifies the city of Birmingham in England where the silver was crafted. The second hallmark is a passant Lion in a cartouche which signifies that the band is silver and that it was crafted by a British silversmith. The third hallmark is a square cartouche with the small letter “a” in the box which is a date letter that will give the year of the making of the pipe. Steve had recommended a site which he frequents while dating silver hallmarked pipes. Here is the link which helped me identify the city mark as Birmingham and further following the link on Birmingham date letter chart on the same page brought me to a separate page with all the letters along with the period in which they were stamped. I found the letter which matched to the one seen on the pipe in my hand and I can now say with authority that this silver ferrule is from the year of manufacture1900!! Unfortunately, the site did not allow me to copy/ edit and reproduce the relevant charts for including in this write up.

https://www.925-1000.com/british_marks.html

The next stamp which I researched was the “A & Co” stamp over the three hallmarks. I conferred with The-Beard-of-Knowledge on all things pipe, Steve and he suggested that I visit http://www.silvercollection.it and sure enough I got the information that I was looking for. I reproduce the relevant information from the site and also the link for those who may need to refer when researching their pipes.

http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilvermarksXA.html

A business which is supposed to have been established in 1781 at Mitcham, Surrey, by William Asprey (died 1827).

CHRONOLOGY:
Francis Kennedy, c. 1804-c. 1841
Kennedy & Asprey, c. 1841-1843
Charles Asprey, 1843-c.1872
purchased the business of Charles Edwards, c.1857
Charles Asprey & Son, c.1872-c.1879
Charles Asprey & Sons, c.1879-c.1888
acquired Leuchars & Sons
C.& G.E. Asprey, c.1888-c.1900
Asprey (& Co), c.1900-1909
acquired Houghton & Gunn, 1906
acquired William Payne & Co, 1908
Asprey & Co Ltd, 1909- 1998
Asprey & Garrard, 1998-2002
Asprey & Co Ltd, 2002

The relevant stamping is highlighted in blue. The period/ vintage of the ferrule now perfectly matches and confirmed that it is from the year 1900.

With the year of make of the ferrule established as 1900, I wanted to confirm if this matched with the year of manufacture of the pipe itself. This is essential since the makers did stock up on such silver ferrule before they even made pipes for them. The stampings on the pipe itself should provide some clues to the link with the vintage of the pipe. The pipe is stamped as “B W” in a rectangle over “THE GEM”, all in golden block capital letters. There are no other markings on this pipe, not even COM stamp.I searched pipedia.org for information on this brand and further confirmation on dating this pipe. There are some interesting details on this brand and makes for an interesting read. I have reproduced some snippets of the information from pipedia.org which are relevant to dating this Ben Wade.

The company was founded by Benjamin Wade in 1860 in Leeds, Yorkshire, where it was located for over a century. Ben Wade started as a pipe trader, but yet in the 1860’s he established a workshop to produce briar pipes. The pipes were made in very many standard shapes – always extensively classic and “very British”. Many models tended to be of smaller dimensions. Ben Wade offered a very high standard of craftsmanship and quality without any fills. Thus the pipes were considered to be high grade and a major competitor to other famous English brands.

In the second World War the factory was destroyed by German air raids on Leeds. But the Ben Wade family decided to re-build it immediately after the war and pipe production was re-started soon and successfully linked to the fame from the pre-war years.

Before the second war Ben Wade clustered their offerings into three price points: “Ben Wade” included the higher end pipes (eg the Larnix, Super Grain, Selected Grain, etc), “BW” included the mid-level pipes (eg Statesman, Natural Grain, County, etc), and “BWL” were the least expensive (eg Hurlingham, Adelphi, Tense Grain). Champion was in the last group, and in the 1930s at least retailed for 2/6.

Even though the owner family decided to leave pipe business and sell off the firm. The family went into negotiations with Herman G. Lane, president of Lane Ltd. in New York at about the same time as the Charatan family. Lane Ltd. bought both firms in 1962.

From the above it is confirmed that the Ben Wade that I have inherited is from the family era and from the era before the second war, placing it before 1939. Now, I had read somewhere that it was common for pipe makers not stamp the pipe with the COM stamp in early 1900s and this was confirmed by Steve. Thus, to sum up all the information researched to date this particular piece, it is safe to conclude that this pipe is likely to have been made in the year 1900!! My inheritance indeed has some very nice and very old pipes.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
In the month of January this year, I had restored a Loewe Kenton from my inherited pipes that was nicely reamed with no overflowing lava over the rim top (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/17/restoring-a-classic-british-billiard-loewe-co-pipe/) and now this is the second pipe which is without a layer of cake in the chamber. However, the rim top surface is darkened and covered with lava overflow. I searched through the remaining large carton of inherited pipe for another pipe which is sans cake, but did not find any. Coming back to the pipe on my work table, the rim inner edge is mighty uneven, most probably a result of using a knife blade and shows signs of darkening due to charring. However, the outer edge is without any damage. The walls of the chamber are in excellent condition with no signs of heat fissures/ lines, but slightly uneven. A little magical touch from Pavni, my daughter who specializes in making the chamber smooth should address this issue. The stummel surface has developed a nice patina over 119 years of its existence and I have no intentions of destroying it during the restoration. Therefore, the few dents and dings that are visible shall stay and be a part of the pipes history through the years. Maybe, micromesh polishing will address a few of these dents and scratches. I wouldn’t say that this pipe has beautiful grains all round because it does not!! But yes, there is a smattering of some straight grains in the cap of the stummel and few on the shank while rest of the stummel has just some swirls of grains here and there. Even though the stummel is covered in dust, dirt and grime from years of uncared for storage, through it all the pipe still has a feel of quality maybe because of the shape or the proportions, I am not able to pin point exact reasons, but the pipe shouts vintage and quality!! The double ring separating the cap from the rest of the stummel is filled with dirt and dust, but is intact with no chipping or unevenness, which is surprising. At this stage of my initial inspection, in order to see the condition of the shank end and mortise, I tried to separate the bone stem from the shank end. The stem would not budge. I had no desire of applying more force for the fear of breaking the bone tenon inside the mortise and this would have really complicated the restoration for me as well as the originality of the pipe would have been compromised. I wanted neither and so in went the entire pipe in to freezer for a chill. A few hours later, I took the pipe out from the freezer and slightly heated the shank end. Once satisfied, I gingerly turned the stem with success. A little coaxing and finally the stem and shank were separated. Whew! What a relief. However, when I tried to reattach the two, there was a slight gap between the stem and the shank end and indicated with red arrows. I am sure that with the cleaning of the shank/ mortise of the entire gunk, the fit should improve. After the stem was separated from the shank end, the sterling silver ferrule too fell out easily. I will have to fix it with superglue. A closer examination of the mortise confirmed that it is clogged with accumulation of oils, tars and gunk of yesteryear. The threads too are covered in the gunk and most probably the cause of the incorrect seating of the stem in the mortise.The horn stem itself appears dull and lifeless and has tooth chatter on both the surfaces of the stem. The slot is perfectly round and correct for the time period of the pipe and shows accumulation of dried tars and dirt. The button edges, however, are sharp and sans any damage with a little dirt embedded at the bottom of the edges. I could make out one crack emanating from the right bottom edge of the diamond saddle and extending to more than half the length of the saddle panel. This crack is shown by a yellow arrow. The dark and light hues taken on by the stem over the years should polish out nicely and will add an additional touch of class to this classy pipe. THE PROCESS
Pavni, my youngest daughter loves to help me in pipe restoration in her free time and her forte is getting the walls of the chamber as smooth as a baby’s bottom. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper she completely evened out the wall surface. Once she was through with her sanding regime, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and the mortise with a few hard and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also cleaned out the threads in the shank end with cotton buds and alcohol. With a sharp knife, I gently scraped away the lava overflow from the rim top surface. I followed it up by cleaning the external surface of the stummel with hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s oil soap. I rinsed it under running tap water and dried it with paper towels and a soft cotton cloth. I diligently scrubbed the rim top surface with a scotch-brite pad and Murphy’s oil soap to remove the remaining lava overflow. With this step on this particular project, I achieved two results; firstly, the gold lettered stamping on the shank was consigned to past tense and secondly, a couple of fills were revealed (marked in yellow arrows) at the front of the bowl and in the bottom left panel of the diamond shank. Thankfully, there is no charring over the inner and outer edge or the rim surface. I removed the old and loosened fills from the front of the bowl and one on the shank that was closer to the bowl. The old fill at the shank end; I let it be as it would be covered with superglue while attaching the silver ferrule. Next, I decided to address the issue of darkened rim top surface and uneven inner edge by topping the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper. The progress being made was frequently checked as I had no desire to lose any briar estate than absolutely necessary. Once satisfied with the result, I wiped the rim top surface with a moist cloth. The darkened rim top has been addressed completely, however, the inner rim edge is still uneven (though greatly reduced) with slight charred edges. I address these issues by simply running a piece of 220 grit sand paper along the inner rim edge without creating a bevel, but a nice rounded even surface.Next issue to be addressed was the fills. As mentioned above, I had cleaned out the old and loose fills using my sharp dental tool. I filled these with a mix of superglue and briar dust using the layering technique. Using a toothpick, I first spot fill superglue in to the surface of the intended fill and press briar dust over it. I repeat this process, if need be, till the fill is slightly above the rest of the surface. Once all the fills are covered, I set the stummel aside to cure. Once the fills are sufficiently hardened, which is quite rapid, I sand it with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I follow it up by sanding with a piece of 220, 600 and 800 grit sand papers to a perfect match. Discerning readers must have noted that I did not sand the entire stummel surface. This was because, as I had decided earlier that I would maintain the aged patina that the briar had taken on over the 119 years.At this stage, I decided that I would tackle the stem repairs as addressing the crack observed on the diamond saddle would require curing time and while the stem repair is curing, I could get back to the stummel, saving on time. I began by first cleaning the bone tenon and the stem surface with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the dirt and gunk from the surface. I was contemplating whether or not to drill a counter hole to prevent the crack from progressing further and after weighing the cons, I decided not to do so. The probability of the stem chipping or the crack developing further was reason enough for me to avoid this drilling. I filled this crack with plain superglue and set it aside to cure. The CA superglue would seep and spread inside and stabilize the crack. During his visit, while discussing various aspects of pipe restorations, Steve had made a passing comment that in his experience the best way to preserve the patina on a briar if you need to sand it is to dry sand the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I followed his advice and went ahead and dry sanded the entire stummel surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The results are amazing. The stummel has now a deep and rich dark brown coloration and this will further deepen once I go through the polishing and wax application regimen. Most of the readers would have noticed that the double ring separating the cap from the rest of the stummel shows accumulation of briar dust and grime. Also the fills are darker than the rest of the stummel surface. I have noticed it too and will clean the rings at the end as the polish and wax would also be accumulating in these gaps subsequently. The issue of the fills was addressed by staining the fills and surrounding surface with a dark brown stain pen. I set the stummel aside overnight for the stain to set. The blend is near perfect and should blend further after application of balm and carnauba wax polish.The superglue applied over the crack was by now well cured and had seeped in to the crack as well. I sand the entire stem and the fill in particular, with a worn piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helped to address the tooth chatter seen in the bite zone as well as blend the fill with the rest of the stem surface. I followed it up with dry sanding the stem with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth after every three pads to remove the resulting bone dust. To finish, I applied a liberal coat of Extra Virgin Olive oil and set it aside to be absorbed by the porous bone. I am very pleased with the way the contrasting dark browns and lighter grains in the bone are now highlighted. Once polished further, this will further add a touch of class to an already chic looking Bulldog!! I applied petroleum jelly over the bone tenon and tried the fit of it in to the mortise after temporarily attaching the silver ferrule over the shank end. The alignment and seating of the two was spot on. I separated all the parts again and continued further. While the stem was being hydrated with olive oil, I went back to work the stummel. The stain had set well by this time. I applied a little “Before and After Restoration” balm with my fingers and rubbed it deep in to the stummel surface. This balm rejuvenates the briar and the transformation in the appearance of the stummel is almost immediate. The fills are now so well blended in to the briar that it is difficult to spot them. The only part that needs TLC is the sterling silver ferrule. I polish the ferrule with a very soft powder specifically available locally, and widely used by jewelers, for polishing of silver. I align the ferrule stampings with the stummel stamping on the shank and fix it over the shank with a little superglue. The contrast that this shiny ferrule provides against the dark brown of the stummel looks fantastic.Next, I ran a thin and sharp knife through the double cap ring and cleaned it. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my rotary tool. I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel and the stem of the pipe. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buff using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The completed pipe, with dark brown hues of the stummel contrasting with silver ferrule and the shiny dark browns and lighter grains in the bone stem makes for a visual treat. The pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. Thank you for your valuable time. P.S. This was the last pipe that I had restored during my leave from my work. The following write ups are now on pipes that I have already restored after returning to my work place. I shall sorely miss the help that Pavni, my 10 year youngest daughter and Abha, wifey dear, extend in my work. There are about 40 odd pipes that I have carried with me and which have been cleaned by Abha. So the next couple of months are going to be interesting. Keep following rebornpipes.com for some nice, unique and interesting pipes from here in India in the near future.

Oh, missed out on one aspect!! I tried to repaint the shank stamp with a gold glitter pen towards the end, but it would just not stay. Any suggestion would definitely help me mark this oldie as well as for future.

 

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Restoring a Dr. Grabow “Commodore” #39


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

After we bid our farewells to my Guru and Mentor, Steve Laug and his brother, Jeff, (Dal had left a couple of days earlier) I felt a void. All of a sudden there was nothing to look forward to, no pipe talks, no planned activities, nobody to share a smoke with and above all, their mere presence was being missed by Abha, my wife and both daughters, not to mention me too! It was my youngest daughter, Pavni, who suggested that we restore a pipe!! What a suggestion that was! Our spirits immediately soared and I pulled out my “MUMBAI BONANZA” pipe box to select one pipe.

The one that caught our collective attention was a pick axe shaped pipe that we had come to associate with Kriswill as I have inherited a few. However, this had a “Spade” stamped on its stem in white. It was a Dr. Grabow.

For those readers who have missed out on my previous work, I was fortunate enough to have heeded the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Steve, and struck a deal with a junk collector from Mumbai. He did not know what he was selling and I did not know what I was buying as we reside in different cities!! The argument that Mr. Steve presented was that if not anything, I shall at least have some spares and this was logical. I struck a deal and here are pictures of the pipes that I received in this lot.     This lot contains some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brands and some mediocre brands. Overall, with seven Dunhill pipes, a Preben Holm #1 FH, a couple of “Made in England” Pete System pipes, a couple of  Charatan’s Belvedere, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had struck a decent haul!!! This is indeed my “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The eleventh pipe that we decided to work on from this find is a pickaxe shaped pipe and is indicated in red colored arrow in the picture below. It is stamped on the right side of the shank as “COMMODORE” in block letter over “DR. GRABOW” again in block letter. The shape code “# 39” is also stamped on the right side towards the shank end and away in the middle of the two lines. The left side of the shank is devoid of any stamping, which is slightly unusual as most of carvers and makers prefer to stamp their pipes on the left. The stem bears the famous “Ace of Spades” logo in white, embedded on the left side of the stem. Now coming to the research of this brand and line/ model in specific, I referred to pipedia.org and as expected there is an extensive research on this pipe and even has a separate page on the dating of Dr. Grabow pipes, starting from the Linkman era to later pipe lines and numbers which makes for an interesting read and is highly recommended. This research has been done by Russell McKay, and is from his website DrGrabow-pipe-info.com. Here is the link to the page on pipedia.org:

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Grabow_Models_(Series,Line)_Names_Through_the_Years

I found what I was looking for in the list of most “newer” Dr. Grabow pipe names and is reproduced below;

COMMODORE (c1964) — First appears in a magazine ad for $7.95 as early as 1964. Like the Sculptura, later models were sandblasted in a “big” blast circa 1967-69 (See “Sculptura” for details.)

From the above information, it is evident that the pipe currently on my work table is from the period 1967-69, even though the line was first introduced in 1964 since the stummel is beautifully sandblasted. With this input on the vintage of this pipe, I move ahead with the restoration of this 50 plus years old pipe!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
I usually start my initial visual inspection by going over the chamber first. However, in this particular pipe, I was so drawn by the beautiful sandblast on the stummel that I decided to change the order and start with the stummel.

The stummel boasts one of the most beautiful sandblast patterns with the front of the bowl having circular blasted pattern and from the outer most part of this blast ring, the sandblast that radiates from the front of the stummel and moving around to the sides and back of the stummel with the cross grains and the straight grains forming an intricate crisscross patterns. It is a visual treat to say the least and difficult to explain in mere words! The following two pictures of the cleaned stummel will give the readers an idea of the sandblast patterns on the stummel.The sandblasted stummel is covered in dirt and grime of 50 plus years of its existence. This should clean up nicely. The stummel surface is solid with no damage to the external surface. The dark browns of the raised sandblast contrast beautifully with the black stain of rest of the stummel. A thick layer of cake can be seen in the chamber. The sandblasted rim top surface is covered in thick overflow of lava, dirt, dust and grime. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber and rim top surface will be known once the cake has been taken down to bare briar and the rim top crud has been scraped off completely (thankfully readers cannot see or hear me muttering silent prayers!!). The inner rim condition appears to be in good condition with no burn/ charred surfaces. Even the outer rim edge appears to be in a decent condition. Only once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned that I can be sure of my initial appreciation. In spite of the thick cake, the chamber odor is, surprisingly, not strong and should be addressed once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The shank end has a metal band around the center and this metal band extends inside the shank with threads, over which the threaded stem stinger is seated in to the mortise. Thankfully, the band and threads are all intact. The mortise is blocked with dried gunk, adversely affecting the airflow. The metal band is dull and dirty in appearance.The stem is an “Adjustomatic” type (a patent for stem to shank threading system, later Patent #2461905 which was filed on 25th January 1946 by David P. Lavietes). This patent allows the stem to be turned in the shank for a perfect alignment without having to detach the two. The stem is attached to the shank by a threaded “tool” stinger (again patented by the brand way back in 1924 and upgraded over the years) and the stem can be turned over this stinger for alignment of the shank and stem. Unfortunately, the previous owner had this stinger cut ahead of the threaded portion so that the attachment of the stem to the shank is not affected at all. The vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized and has calcification deposits towards the button end. There are a few deep tooth marks on the lower and upper stem surface. The button edges also have bite marks. The stinger opening and the horizontal slot shows accumulated oils and tars. The threaded portion of what remains of the stinger is covered in dried dust, dirt and grime. The alignment of the stem and shank skewed with the stem being overturned to the right.THE PROCESS
I started the restoration with cleaning of the stummel as I was keen to know the condition of the walls of the chamber. With size 1 head of a Castleford pipe reamer, I took the cake down to bare briar. Using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand out the last traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. I was happy to note that the walls of the chamber are in pristine condition without any heat fissures or pits. The inner and outer edge of the rim are intact and without any burn or char marks. Next I decided to address the stem. I cleaned the internals of the stem using hard and normal bristled pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. The stem airway and the open ended stinger were filthy as can be made out from the number of pipe cleaners that were used up in the cleaning process. I cleaned the complete stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove the calcification from the button end and thereafter flamed the stem surface with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth indentation to the surface. I scrubbed and cleaned the portion of the stinger that remained. I liberally applied petroleum jelly to the stinger to protect it and dropped the stem in to the “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution which Jeff had lugged all the way from Idaho, USA for me. This solution, which has been developed by Mark Hoover, has reduced my time in working on removing stem oxidation by ¼ and should form a part of the list of ‘must have’ items for restoring a pipe.While the stem was soaking in the “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my fabricated tool, I scraped out all the dried oils, tars and gunk that had accumulated in the shank airway and mortise. The amount of crud that was scrapped out leaves no surprise why air flow through it was restricted. I finished the cleaning by running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also wiped the metal band and the threads with cotton buds and alcohol. With this cleaning, all old smells in the pipe are history. The pipe now smells clean and fresh.With the internals of the stummel now clean, I cleaned the external surface using a hard bristled toothbrush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I diligently scrubbed the crevices formed by the sandblast to remove all the dust and dirt that was embedded in between. With a soft bristled brass wired brush, I gently removed the overflowing lava from the rim top surface and rinsed it under running tap water. I wiped the stummel dry with an absorbent soft cotton cloth. I am very pleased with the way the stummel has cleaned up. The sandblast looks absolutely gorgeous. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips, work it deep in to the sandblasts and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful sandblast patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. With this, I keep the stummel aside and turn my attention to the stem repairs. While I was working on the stummel, Abha, my wife had in the meanwhile fished out the stem from the ‘Before and After Deoxidizer’ solution after a soak of about 6 hours. She rinsed it under running tap water to remove all the sticky solution that remained on the surface. She also let the water run through the stem airway and blew through it to dislodge the solution that remained inside and followed it up with a thorough cleaning with Mr. Magiclean sponge and 0000 grade steel wool. She finished her part in cleaning of the stem with a vigorous rubbing with a microfiber cloth. This removed nearly all of the oxidation from the stem surface, however, the deep tooth indentations at the button edge and in the bite zone still needed to be addressed. And as is her habit, she did not take any pictures of this process.

I began my part of stem repairs by sanding the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helps in getting rid of what little oxidation remained while providing a smooth surface for the intended fills to reconstruct the damaged bite zone on both surfaces and also the button edges. I wiped the stem surface, particularly the damaged areas, with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove any traces of dirt and grime. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and carefully applied it over the damaged bite zone on both surfaces, and button edges and set it aside for curing over night. I had applied this mix in sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding to match the fills with the stem surface and shaping the button. Once the fills had cured sufficiently, using a flat head needle file, I reshaped the button and roughly matched the fills with the rest of the stem surface. I followed it up by further sanding the stem with 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers to achieve a perfect blending of the fills with the stem surface and a crisp button edge on either side of the stem. Using the micromesh pads, I complete the polishing cycle by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 girt pads. The stem looks great with the fills nicely matched with the rest of the surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The only issue that remains unaddressed at this stage is the issue of overturned stem. Being an adjustomatic stem, I fixed the stem in to the shank and tried to turn the stem to match the shank applying just adequate pressure. However, the stem would not budge. Not wanting to create further complications like broken stinger or wearing down of the threads, I unscrewed the stem from the shank. With the flame of a lighter, I heated the aluminum stinger to a point where the stem was just about able to rotate on the stinger. I reattached the stem to the shank while the stinger was still warm, and turned it till the alignment was perfect as I desired and set it aside to cool down. Actually the reasoning behind heating the stinger is that the gunk which accumulates on the stinger and further percolates inside is loosened, thus freeing the stem.

To complete the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. With a cotton buffing wheel earmarked for Red Tripoli, which has a finer grit than White compound, I buffed the stem to a fine glossy finish. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. I only wish it could share with me its life story of the past 50 plus years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it!! P.S. I have to admit to the readers of this blog that I had completed this project in the month of May 2019 but I kept procrastinating on the write up. To be honest, I find doing the write up on any project more tedious and difficult than working on the project itself and Steve will bear with me on this fact. And the fact that English is not my first language further makes it all the more challenging. There are nine more pending write ups which I shall be tackling before I undertake any new restoration, God!! I don’t want to scare myself!! I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through and any inputs or advice is always welcome.

Recommissioning a Sharp BBB Classic London England 106S Chimney


Blog by Dal Stanton

This very classy looking BBB I acquired with the French Lot of 50 that I won on the French eBay auction block along with several other treasures that I’ve enjoyed restoring for new stewards benefiting our work here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Along with a few other pipes commissioned by my friend in India, Paresh saw this BBB in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and was interested in adding it to his BBB collection.  I’ve marked the BBB in the pile of pipes that I acquired.  I love looking at ‘pipe piles’ 😊.With the pipe now on my worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria, I take more pictures to show what got Paresh’s attention.  In prototypical English style, the pipe is on diminutive side measuring, Length: 5 3/8 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Rim width: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber width: 3/4 inches, and Chamber depth: 1 3/4 inches. The left side of the shank is stamped with the classic ‘BBB’ ensconced in the rhombus [over] ‘CLASSIC’.  The right side of the shank is stamped, ‘LONDON, ENGLAND’ [over] 106S – what I’m assuming is the BBB shape number designation.  The shape of the stummel I would label as a Chimney sporting a saddle stem.  In my research I could unearth no BBB Shapes Chart that corroborates my designation matching the 106S.I love the look and feel of this pipe and its distinctive brass rondel embedded on the topside of the stem placing this ‘Best British Briar’ Classic in the 1950s and 1960s.  Below is pictured the evolution of the BBB stem markings which is included in an extensive article on the History of BBB Pipes by Fiona Adler that Steve reposted in rebornpipes after translating from the original French.Pipephil provides a very brief description of ‘BBB’:

BBB: ” Best British Briar” is now a brand of the Cadogan Company (Oppenheimer group). American rights to use the brand name were sold to Wally Frank in 1980.
Founder of the brand in 1847: Louis Blumfeld. The oldest pipe brand name in the UK has been registered in 1876 (Blumfeld Best Briar)
Grading (ascendant): Own Make, Bold Grain, Best Make, Rare Grain

With the dating of this pipe giving it a 50s/60s vintage, I was hopeful to find the ‘Classic’ line in some of the catalogs that Steve acquired from Victor C. Naddeo who is the administrator of the FB Group, Pipe Club of Brasil. I enjoy it when catalogs are posted but unfortunately, I found neither the ‘Classic’ line mentioned or the shape number 106S in the 60s catalog (See: Best British Briar Catalog to see the whole posting).The Chimney stummel is in very good condition – the grain pattern shows great promise after the stummel is cleaned of normal dirt and grime buildup.  The chamber has a thick cake and the lava overflow matches the fact that this pipe was well smoked and served his steward well.  I will remove the cake to give the briar a fresh start and to inspect the chamber walls for heating problems.  The saddle stem has heavy oxidation but very little tooth chatter on the bit.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the very nice-looking BBB Classic Chimney cleans up.

I start by trying something that I haven’t tried before.  The oxidation in the stem is a lot and very deep.  My experience with Before & After Deoxidizer is that it is not able to remove very strong oxidation fully.  It can address some of the issue, but not thoroughly – in my experience.  I try to break up the oxidation by using a small felt buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel set to the lowest speed.  I start first with simply the felt wheel, but I’m concerned that it is too hot on the vulcanite.  I add paraffin oil to the mix.  I wet the felt wheel with the mineral oil and buff the stem trying to break up the oxidation in anticipation of putting the stem in the B&A Deoxidizer soak.After buffing, I wipe the stem down with a cloth and put it aside and allow it to dry.  After drying, the next two pictures show that the buffing did help, but there is still oxidation.I continue by cleaning the airway of the stem with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%.  Once clean, I add it to a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer with other pipes in the queue.  I’m hopeful that the Deoxidizer will now be more efficient after the aggressive buffing I did. After some hours in the Deoxidizer soak, I fish out the BBB saddle stem and after draining off the excess Deoxidizer, I use cotton pads wetted with isopropyl to wipe off the raised oxidation.  I also run a pipe cleaner wetted with alcohol to clean the airway of the fluid.  The pictures show improvement, but I’m not satisfied.Next, I employ Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to address the oxidation further.  I’m satisfied with the results – the vulcanite appears to be free of the oxidation.To rejuvenate the stem, I apply paraffin oil to the vulcanite with a cotton pad and put the stem aside to absorb and dry.  I’m pleased with the results.Turning now to the BBB stummel, I take a few pictures to show the heavy build up both in the chamber and the rim.  I use only the smallest of the Pipnet Reaming Kit’s blade heads to ream the carbon cake out of the chamber. This will give the briar a fresh start.  I transition to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to do the fine tuning by scraping the chamber walls more, and then wrap 240 grade paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber to clean it further of carbon cake residue.  Finally, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to rid the chamber of carbon dust.  I take a final picture of the cleaned chamber and after inspection, I see know problems in the chamber with heating cracks or fissures. Turning now to the external briar cleaning, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad to scrub the surface.  I also work on the rim using my thumbnail to scrape the rim to remove the buildup and then with a brass wire brush.  I then take the stummel to the sink and using a bristled toothbrush I brush and further clean the surface under the warm water.  Using shank brushes and anti-oil dish liquid soap as well I clean the internals of the stummel rinsing with warm water.Next, using pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95%, I continue the internal cleaning.  I also scrape the mortise walls with a small dental spoon.  This does a great job removing the thicker tars and oils that are hanging on.  After a time, the cotton buds begin to emerge cleaner.To continue the internal cleaning process, I use the kosher salt and alcohol soak.  To form a ‘wick’ to draw out the tars and oils, I twist and pull a cotton ball to form the wick.  A stiff wire helps to insert and push the wick into the mortise.  Then the bowl is filled with kosher salt, which leaves no aftertaste and freshens the bowl, and I set the stummel in an egg crate to keep it steady.  A large eyedropper is used to fill the chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, I top the alcohol off after it has absorbed into the internals. I set the stummel aside for it to soak through the night.  It’s late, I also turn out the lights! The next morning, the kosher salt and isopropyl 95% soak has done the job.  The wick and salt are soiled having drawn more tar and oils from the internal cavity.  I thump the expended salt into the waste and wipe the chamber with a paper towel as well as blow through the shank to remove expended salt crystals.  To make sure the internals are clean, I use a few more cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%.  As hoped and expected, they come out clean and I move on.With the cleaning complete, I turn my attention to the rim’s condition.  The cleaning did a great job removing the grime and lava over the rim, but the discoloration and skins and nicks on the edge of the rim remain.  I take a couple close-ups picturing both sides of the rim and nicking is evident.To address the rim condition, I bring out the chopping board and put 240 grade paper on it to serve as a topping board.  I top the stummel very lightly – just enough to clean the rim and allow me to erase the rim edge nicks with a simple, inconsequential beveling.After a few rotations on the board I take a picture.After a few more rotations, I’m satisfied with the 240 topping.  On the lower right of the rim you can see the remaining rim edge issues that I’ll rectify with a gentle beveling or sanding.To smooth the rim further, I exchange the 240 paper for 600 grade paper and go a few more rotations.Next, I introduce outer and inner edge bevels to erase the remaining damage and to give the Chimney’s top a smoother softer appearance.  I use 240 grade then 600 grade papers rolled to do the beveling.  I think it looks great.With the rim repair completed, I take the stummel through the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads.  First, I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I take a picture between each set of 3 pads to mark the change in the briar.  It amazes me how the grain emerges.  This BBB Classic’s grain is striking.  As I track the grain around the bowls, the horizontal grain gradually transitions to bird’s eye grain as the stummel position pivots.  There are no fills in the stummel that I can see – a beautifully crafted block of briar! Before returning to the stem to catch it up with the stummel, I’m anxious to apply Before & After Restoration Balm to this BBB Classic Chimney stummel.  I place some Balm on my fingers, and I work it into the briar thoroughly.  The Balm starts with a cream-like consistency but then thickens into more of a wax-like consistency.  I like the Balm because it seems to draw out the deeper tones of the briar – nothing earth shattering, but the subtle enhancement of the natural briar grain is what I like most.  After applying the Balm, I put the stummel aside for about 20 minutes before wiping off the excess and then buffing it up with a micromesh cloth.  The picture shows the Balm at work.Next, I turn back to the BBB saddle stem.  The tooth chatter is minimal, but the button has some compressions.  The skin of the stem is rough as well.I begin by refreshing the button lips using a flat needle file.  I also work on the bit with 240 grade paper sanding out the imperfections. The slot is also a bit out of shape.  I use a sharp needle file to file the edges to balance the slot.While sanding, I see a pit on the edge of the stem that I didn’t see before.  I try sanding it out, but soon realize is too deep.  I remedy the situation quickly using a spot-drop of regular CA glue on the pit after cleaning it with a cotton pad and alcohol.  I use an accelerator to quicken the curing process and then sand it with 240 grade paper. I then wet sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper and follow by applying 000 steel wool to the whole stem.  The next step is applying the regimen of micromesh pads to the stem starting by wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400.  This is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads a coat of Obsidian Oil is applied to further enrich and condition the vulcanite.  The freshly sanded pop of the vulcanite contrasted with the embedded BBB Rondel is great!  While trying to reunite the stem and the stummel before applying Blue Diamond compound, it becomes evident that the cleaning of the stummel has expanded the briar making the fit of the tenon in the mortise a bit too tight and forcing the issue could easily result in a cracked shank!  Nothing desired at this point.  To remedy this, utilizing a combination of filing the mortise with a half-circle needle file and sanding the tenon down by wrapping a piece of 240 grade paper around the tenon and rotating the paper does the trick.  The combination approach now allows the tenon fit to be snug but not too tight.With the BBB Classic stem and stummel reunited, after mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, and setting the speed at about 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the stem and stummel.After the application of Blue Diamond compound, I wipe the pipe with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust in preparation of applying the wax.  Then, after mounting another cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, and maintaining the speed at 40%, carnauba wax is applied to the stem and stummel.  The restoration is finished with a hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

I’m very pleased with results.  This BBB Classic London, England Chimney is a beautiful pipe.  The block of briar is exquisite, with no fills and a landscape of grain transformation as you track it around the bowl.  There is a striking tight patch of bird’s eye grain on the right flank of the bowl that holds the eyes.  As a 1950s/60s vintage BBB, even though the ‘Classic’ line could not be fully identified, there is little doubt as to the quality of this BBB Classic Chimney.  Paresh commissioned this pipe which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited and he will have the first opportunity to adopt this BBB from ThePipeSteward Store and bring it home.  Thanks for joining me!

New Life for a Broken Nording Danmark F Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

In one of the bags of parts Jeff purchased there was a bowl and there was a piece of shank with a stem in place. We took all the parts out of the bag and were able to see that these two parts actually went together. The shank piece is stamped on the underside as follows: F over NORDING over DANMARK near the horn extension/shank union. The bowl shape follows the grain of the block of briar very well. The break in the shank was not a clean one – it was a mess. The inside of the airway was plugged with lava and tar. Someone had tried to repair the two parts by gluing them together with epoxy. As expected the repair did not hold. Jeff took photos of the pieces to show the extent of the damage to the pipe – it really was a stunning pipe originally. The shank was thin but the briar was thick enough. The nice piece of striated horn that made a shank extension was in excellent condition. There was a steel tube in the end of the horn where the stem sat in place to protect it from splitting when the stem was repeatedly inserted. The turned fancy stem was in good condition with some tooth marks on both sides but otherwise it was undamaged. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy overflow of lava on the rim top.The next series of photos shows the two parts of the shank and the thick buildup of tars and oils in the shank interior and the broken briar around the shank. The next photos show the rim top and the thick cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the plateau top. The valleys and high spots are almost filled smooth with lava.Jeff also took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the grain on the pipe. The finish is very dirty but the grain is quite beautiful. There are nicks and dents in the briar.The stamping on the shank portion of the broken pipe is readable but worn. The joint between the shank and the horn extension is very good – solid. The metal tube in the shank end provided the internal strength to hold this joint tight. It is interesting to note that the shank broke just ahead of the tube inside the shank. The stem appeared to be in good condition. The button was worn with tooth marks on the topside. There was some oxidation and wear on the surface near the button.Jeff reamed the bowl and cleaned up the plateau top with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. He scrubbed it until it was clean. He cleaned out the inside of the two parts of the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the airway was clear. He cleaned up the broken ends of the shank with a tooth brush and the soap. He rinsed off the bowl and shank and the airway with warm water. He dried it off and set it aside. He cleaned up the stem and let it soak in a bath of Before & After stem deoxidizer. He took it out of the bath and rinsed it off and cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol. When I arrived he showed me the parts. They were incredibly clean. I was excited to get started on the repair of the broken shank… so much so that I forgot to take pictures of the cleaned up parts of the pipe.

I picked up some tubing at Hobby Lobby and cut off a piece that was close to the length I needed to join the two parts of the shank together. I used a Sawsall blade and a hacksaw to cut a length from the tube. I used a metal rasp to flatten the end of the piece of tube and shorten it enough to fit into the two parts of the shank. I used the small blade on a pocket knife to open up the airway in the bowl end of the shank and to flare the end of the tube in the stem end of the shank.I used the hacksaw to rough up the surface of the tube so the glue would have a surface to bond to between the briar and the tube. I used some Testor’s Metal and Wood Glue to insert the tube into the bowl end of the shank. I used a tooth pick to press the glue into the area around the tube. I filled in the remainder of the gap with clear Gorilla glue.I used the tooth pick to put Gorilla Glue on the open ends of each piece of the shank. I coated the tube with some glue as well. I aligned the two parts and pressed the pieces together. I held them tightly in place until the glue set and the two parts were bound together. I filled in the repaired area with Gorilla Glue to smooth out the repair. I set the bowl aside to let the repair cure. Once the glue had cured and the shank was solid, I smoothed out the repair a medium and fine sanding block. I sanded the repaired area and glue with 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the excess glue. I smoothed out the finish. I decided to use Mark Hoover’s Briar Cleaner at this point in the process to clean off the briar. It works to remove the dust and debris in the briar and leaving behind a clean piece of briar. I polished the bowl and horn shank extension with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process. It is a nice looking pipe for sure. At this point in the process I brought the pipe back to Vancouver. I sanded the repaired area with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surrounding briar. I wanted to remove some of the darkened area around the repair so that I could polish it further and restain the shank to match the rest of the pipe.I polished the repaired area with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads to polish out the sanding scratches. I polished it further with 3200-12000 grit pads. Once it was smooth I stained it with a Cherry stain pen to blend it into the rest of the pipe. The photos tell the story of the repair. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar and set it aside to dry. Once the Balm had been doing its work for a while I buffed it down with a microfiber cloth. The Balm cleaned, protected and enlivened the briar. The repaired shank was looking very good at this point in the process. I cleaned the pipe stem with a new version of Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm that he had designed to work well on both the briar bowls and the vulcanite stems. I rubbed it into the surface of the stem with my fingertips and buffed it off with a microfibre cloth. I polished the stem with microfibre pads – wetsanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it off with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. After the 12000 grit pad I polished it with Before & After Fine Polish and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I put the stem back on the pipe and took the pipe to the buffer. I carefully buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and the vulcanite. I wanted to get a shine but not risk damaging the pipe by having it fly off the wheel. Blue Diamond does a great job on the smaller scratches that remain in both briar and vulcanite. I gave the bowl 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 really nicely with a great contrasting stain look to the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a beautiful Eric Nording F Freehand – the fancy turned stem and the horn shank extension give the pipe a great look. The polished black vulcanite stem looks really good with the rich browns standing out in the grain and the blacks of the plateau rim. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches wide and 2 inches long, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This pipe is truly a rebornpipe. The shank repair and inside tube that binds it together should last a long time. Thanks for walking with me through the repair and the restoration of this beauty!

Breathing Life into a Knute of Denmark Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

I chose the next pipe to work on from some that Jeff and I recently purchased from a guy in Illinois. There were some nice pipes in the assortment from a variety of ranges. The pipe on my worktable comes from that collection. This one is a beautifully grained Knute Freehand with a turned vulcanite stem. The rim top and shank end are plateau and have been selectively darkened in the grooves and valleys. The shape follows the grain of the block of briar very well. It is stamped on the underside of the shank Knute of Denmark. There is no other stamping on the pipe. The pipe is shaped to sit nicely on a desk or table top. The stem is stamped with a Crown over the letter K on the top. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the plateau rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. Other than being dirty the finish appeared to be in good condition. The stem was oxidized and had come calcification where a pipe Softee bit had been. There was some tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem at the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it so I could see what he was dealing with. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava. The cake is thick and hard and the lava overflows into the plateau. The bowl is a real mess but it must have been a great smoking pipe. He also took a photo of the dusty plateau at the shank end. The next photos show the sides and heel of the bowl to give a clear picture of the beauty of the grain around the bowl of the pipe. Under the grime there is some great grain peeking through. Jeff took a photo of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. The stamping reads Knute in script over of Denmark running horizontally along the underside of the shank.The stem looked dirty and oxidized with the calcification left behind by a pipe Softee bit. The bite marks and tooth chatter on the stem was light and should not take too much work to remedy. The Crown over K logo looked good at this point. Hopefully the cleanup will preserve it well. Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to remind myself of the provenance of the pipe. I remembered that it was linked to Karl Erik as the earlier pipe I worked on was. I wanted to know where this pipe fit into the Karl Erik lines so I turned to the first of two sites that I always check to gather information on a brand. I turned first to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik). There it is clearly identified and linked to Karl Erik Ottendahl. It is designated as a second and frequently having rustication. For some reason this beauty does not have any rustication and it is a great piece of briar.

I turned to the second information site – Pipephil’s (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-k3.html) got a quick overview on the brand once again connecting it to Karl Erik.Pipedia also had this great picture of Karl Erik Ottendahl and I decided to include it here as a reminder of the artisan who first carved and released this pipe. Reminded of the tie to Karl Erik I knew a bit about the pipe at hand. I turned to address the pipe itself. Jeff cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. The cleaning had removed some of the black stain on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and was able to remove much of the oxidation. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition once it arrived in Canada. Jeff was able to clean up the incredibly thick cake and lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl photos above. The plateau and the inner bevel to the rim look really amazing. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar. The rim top and edges looked very good. The stem looked very good and was much cleaner. There was light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The white paint in the stamping had been removed by the soak and cleaning but the stamp was still good so I could repaint it.I have noticed on some repairs that folks don’t pay much attention to the stamping when they are restoring a pipe. To me this is a critical part of the restoration to leave undamaged as it is the only link we have to who made the pipe. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank to show that it was very readable and undamaged by the cleanup work.There was a small cut in the briar on the right side of the bowl mid bowl that I would take care of first. I filled in the cut with a small drop of super glue. Once it cured I sanded it out with a worn piece of 220 grit sandpaper and polished the scratches left behind with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I started polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The bowl began to take on a rich shine and grain was beginning to stand out. I wet sanded with all of the pads and wiped the bowl down after each pad with a soft cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the briar. I used a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the plateau top and shank end.  After it sat for a little while I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem at this point in the process. I sanded tooth chatter and the remaining oxidation on the stem with folded pieces of 220 to remove the marks and the light brown colouration on the stem surface. I sanded them with 400 grit sandpaper until the marks were gone and the oxidation was gone. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove remnants of oxidation and to further blend in the sanding. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process. I used a liquid paper to touch up the stamping on the top side of the fancy saddle stem. I rubbed it into the stamp and set it aside to dry. I polished off the excess white product and left the remainder in the stamp itself.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite even after the micromesh regimen. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and the vulcanite. Blue Diamond does a great job on the smaller scratches that remain in both. I gave the bowl 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 really nicely with a great contrasting stain look to the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a beautiful Karl Eric Freehand – the fancy turned stem and plateau shank end give the pipe a great look. The polished black vulcanite stem looks really good with the rich browns standing out in the grain. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is another pipe that I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!

Restoring Another of Jennifer’s Dad’s Pipes – A Sasieni Four Dot Walnut “Appleby” M


Blog by Steve Laug

Once again time to get back to Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. The next pipe on the worktable is from the estate of George Rex Leghorn. You may not have read about this estate before, so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The next pipe I chose to work on from the lot was an interesting Apple shaped Sasieni with a military type bit. The pipe is stamped Sasieni in script over FOUR DOT WALNUT over London Made over Made in England on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped M “APPLEBY”. It has some beautiful flame and straight grain mixed with birdseye grain around the bowl sides and shank. It had a rich reddish brown stain but it was dirty and hard to see the colour well. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava was dirty and tired looking. There was some burn marks and lava on the rim top. The stem was badly oxidized with tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The button was in excellent condition. There were four blue dots on the left side of the saddle stem. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included three she included from this pipe. When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This interesting looking Sasieni with a round rim top and shank end was different from any that I have worked on in years past. This is a classic shape with a twist. The stem is faux military bit that sits tight against the rounded end of the shank. The pipe appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime and oxidation on the bowl and stem. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was worn looking with a lot of deep oxidation and scratches in the vulcanite on both surfaces. There was some tooth chatter and bite marks on both sides at the button. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The lava coat looks horrible and it points to a well-used good smoking pipe.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and flat bottom of the bowl. It is a dirty pipe.Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left and the right side of the shank. The stamping was very readable. On the left side of the shank it read Sasieni in script over FOUR DOT WALNUT. Under that it reads London Made over Made in England. On the right side it read M “Appleby”. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and light tooth damage to the stem surface and slight wear to the edges of the button. I looked on the Pipedia website to see if I could get a bit of background information on the Sasieni Four Dot Walnut (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Sasieni). I quote from that site the pertinent information on the brand:

Once Alfred took over the company in 1946, these elements changed in fairly rapid succession. The first thing to be changed was the nomenclature itself. In place of the elaborate “Sasieni” stamp of pre-war pipes, a simpler, though still script style, “Sasieni” was used. This can be seen on patent pipes which have the small, old style dots.

Soon after, Sasieni enlarged the dots themselves, and they formed an equilateral rather than an elongated diamond. My pet theory on this is the dots were enlarged to make up for the fact there were no longer eight of them, but I can’t prove it. Finally the patent number was discontinued, and the words “Four Dot” were added. The shank thus read:

Sasieni

Four Dot

London Made.

Somewhat later still, this was modified to reflect the finish, e.g. Four Dot Walnut, or Four Dot Natural. All these changes seem to have been made in the years between 1946 and 1950. Therefore a pipe with new style dots and old style stamping almost certainly has a replacement stem.

This system changed little if at all in the ensuing thirty years. When the company was sold in 1979, one of the first things the new owners did was to eliminate the town names from the shanks. The dots were enlarged yet further, and the Sasieni name, though still done in script, was larger, as was the rest of the shank nomenclature, which in all other ways was similar to the Pre-Transition nomenclature. While these pipes are not as collectible as the family made pipes, they were made with care and are high quality.

The pipe in my hand is stamped with four lines on the left side. Under the London Made stamp it reads Made in England. The left side could be a town name – M “Appleby”. This would date the pipe being made between 1946 and 1979. Sometime shortly after 1946 the words FOUR DOT were added. That gives a rough time frame for the making of this pipe.

I wrote to Al Jones (upshallfan here on rebornpipes) and asked what he knew about the brand. He sent back this response this morning. He confirms what I had figured out from the Pipedia article. He adds information that I could not find in terms of the M stamp.

That’s a beauty! Four Dot with town name (Appleby), made between 46-79. The Appleby is usually a tapered stem, but the M stamp indicated a military stem, a bit unusual. Great pickup. Four Dot’s have been one of the few pipes that are still currently holding their value… — Al

Now I had the information that I was searching for. The Sasieni that I have is an interesting Four Dot Sasieni with a military stem. Al says it is a bit unusual and I would concur having never seen one like this before. Thanks Al. 

Before I get on to cleaning up the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name.

I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.

Jennifer

*https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.html

Jeff cleaned the 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 mixed grain around the bowl and shank. There was still some darkening on the front and rear edge of the rim. The briar was rough in those two places. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the blackened areas of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. But I also wanted to clearly show the damage that remained on the surface of the rim top. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter in front of the button on both sides.I also took photos of the stamping on the pipe on the underside of the shank. It read as noted above.The next series of photos show the rim top when we received the pipe (photo 1), after Jeff had cleaned the lava off leaving some damage (photo 2) and my work on it (photos 3-4). I worked over the top and edges of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper followed by a piece of 400 grit wet dry sand paper (photo 3). One I had finished the rim looked very good. I was able to remove much of the damage and leave a clean rim (photo 4). I polished the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the results.  I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the tooth marks in the surface of the stem on both sides. I was able to raise some of them but some still remained. I sanded the remaining tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them in and to remove some of the oxidation. I was able to remove much of the damage to the surface. What remained I filled in with clear super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the glue had cured I sanded the repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper until they were blended in to the surface of the stem. I wiped the stem off with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I put the stem into a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer to let it do its magic on the oxidation that remained deep in the vulcanite. I let it soak for several hours.I took the stem out of the bath and rinsed it in warm water. I blew air through the stem to clear the airway and ran water through it as well. I dried it off with a microfibre cloth and buffed it dry to remove as much remaining oxidation as I could. I ran pipe cleaners and alcohol through the stem to further remove traces of the bath.I took photos of the stem at this point to show its condition.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to scrub off remaining oxidation on the stem surface particularly around the curves. I buffed it with a microfibre cloth to raise a shine and check out the issues remaining.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl 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 microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The stain and the smooth finish on this briar combine well with the grain. The shine on it makes the variations of colour really pop. The pipe polished up really well. The polished black vulcanite military bit seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. The apple shaped pipe feels great in my hand and when it warms with smoking I think it will be about perfect. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this Sasieni Four Dot Walnut “Appleby”. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. 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.

Bringing a Silver Match Toronto 115 Squat Lumberman Back to Life


Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this Silver Match Toronto from what I have called, the ‘French Lot of 50’.  It was on the French eBay auction block and I was fortunate enough to have the winning bid.  When the Lot arrived here in Bulgaria from France, I unpacked it, took pictures of each pipe and posted them in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection for potential new stewards to find and commission.  I have already restored many treasures in this French Lot of 50 for new stewards.  Robert saw the Silver Match Toronto 115 Squat Lumberman in the ‘Dreamers Only!’ collection and wrote me about commissioning it.  In my interchanges with Robert describing the pipe and what was involved in commissioning it, he wrote this in response:

Dal I’m still interested in commissioning the lumberman pipe and I’m in no rush. My wife and I just had a baby he just turned 1 week old! I found out about your restorations on Facebook on The Gentleman’s Pipe Smoking Society.  Thanks for returning my email and I can’t wait to see the outcome of this little pipe!

I also found out that he and his family reside in central Virginia and when we were writing, it was getting ready to snow where he lived!  Well, that was last November, and it has taken this long for Robert’s Lumberman to work its way up the queue and I’m thankful for Robert’s patience! – As well as all the stewards who commission pipes which benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Here’s a picture of the original Lot of 50 in the ‘wild’ that I saw on eBay – the Lumberman it identified with an arrow.Now with Robert’s commission on my worktable, I take more pictures to show this smart squat Lumberman – I call it ‘Squat’ but the bowl is large and will handle a nice packing of one’s favorite blend. The nomenclature is stamped on the upper and lower sides of the oval stem.  On the upper is stamped ‘SILVER MATCH’ [over] ‘TORONTO’.  The lower shank bears what I’m assuming to be a shape number: ‘115’.  The stem is also stamped with a design which I assume is the flame of a match being depicted – my best guess at this point, but I’m not sure! The information about the Silver Match name is thin.  A quick search on the internet shows that Silver Match has been the name of tobacco accessories manufacturer since the 1800s, but mainly of lighters.  Silver Match lighters seem to be highly collectable with vintage lighters dating back to the 1800s but most listed that I saw have a French origin.  The only information in Pipedia refers to Silver Match in the list of British pipe makers as an inexpensive brand sold by Roy Tallent Ltd., and marked with the stamping SM (LINK).  This is confirmed in my copy of Wilczak & Colwell’s, ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ that Silver Match has English origins and manufactured by Roy Tallent LTD/S’Elite LTD – both of which seem more to be in the accessories market than focusing on the manufacturing of pipes.  Pipephil.eu (LINK) brings these two together in the following panel.  It pictures pipes distributed by the famous lighter brand, Silver Match, but shows the two different stem stampings that may indicate either French or British manufacturing – the flame (French) and the SM (England).  If this is correct, the Silver Match Toronto 115 has a French origin, but I found no other information to corroborate this.  Arriving from France in my ‘French Lot of 50’ is anecdotal evidence perhaps supporting this.I’m calling this Silver Match a ‘Squat’ Lumberman because he meets all the qualifications of his place in the Canadian family with the oval shank, but he’s on the shorter side but I’m impressed with the nice ample bowl. I did look at both French and British made shape charts to see if I could discover a lead on who produced the Silver Match but found no matches with 115 that provided this information.

I can see some nice briar underneath the thick layer of grime over the briar surface, but I see one large fill that will need attention on the lower shank near the shape number.  The cake is thick in the chamber with corresponding lava covering the rim.  The stem has oxidation and the button is chipped and will need to be rebuilt.  With this inventory of the challenges this Silver Match Toronto Lumberman faces, I start the restoration by adding the oxidized stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes in the queue.  I first clean the airway with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%. After several hours I fish the Silver Match stem out of the Deoxidizer and use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to wipe off the raised oxidation. I also run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through the stem to clean the Deoxidizer remaining in the airway.The Before & After Deoxidizer does a good job and it preserves the white in the Silver Match stem stamp logo – I still can’t figure out for sure what it’s depicting!  I follow by applying paraffin oil to the stem to begin the rejuvenation process.  I put the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil. Next, I address the very thick cake in the chamber.  The chamber is almost closed off as the cake angles down the chamber.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, starting with the smallest blade head, I use 2 blades of the 4 available to me.  I follow the reaming by using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to further scrape and clean out the carbon build-up.  Finally, I sand the chamber after wrapping a piece of 240 grade paper around a sharpie pen to give me reach and leverage.  To remove the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%. After the cleaning, I inspect the chamber and it doesn’t have any cracks and fissures from heating damage.  It looks good!Next, I continue the cleaning by using undiluted Murphy’s Soap on the external surface using a cotton pad to scrub.  I also use a Winchester blade to scrape the rim addressing the thick lava you can see in the picture above. I also use a brass wire brush on the rim which doesn’t damage the briar.  After being in India, I learned about some of Jeff Laug’s (Steve’s brother) cleaning techniques and I decide to employ some of them.  After cleaning the stummel with Murphy’s, I take the stummel to the sink and clean the external surface with a bristled toothbrush with regular dish soap – the kind that is anti-oil.  I also use shank brushes to clean the mortise with the dish soap and warm water. After rinsing well, I dry the stummel with a cloth.  It came out well.As I observed earlier, there is a very large fill on the underside of the shank.  As expected, the cleaning of the stummel softens the old fill material and most of it fell out with the cleaning.  Using a sharp dental probe, I continued to excavate the material from the hole to clean it.Addressing the internals, I now use cotton buds, pipe cleaners, shank brushes and a dental spatula to scrape the mortise wall.  Using my tools to clean takes a bit of effort, but after some time, the buds started coming out lighter.  Later I will give the internals a further cleaning using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.Next, I patch the huge crater on the shank.  After I make sure all the old fill material has been removed, I clean the hole with alcohol. In the recent trip to India I discovered that there was some mild controversy around my method for filling holes using a putty created by mixing CA glue and briar dust.  Both Steve and Paresh said that they could not duplicate what I’ve been doing for some time – mixing the two components and creating a putty that remained supple.  What they experienced was the CA glue instantaneously solidifying when it touched the briar dust.  We discussed many different possible factors that would cause this difference in results – elevation, kind of glue, etc.  Another possible difference I suggested was that when I used an index card as a mixing platform, I would first cover the card with a strip of packing tape so that the glue would not be absorbed into the paper – which may, if it did absorb, cause the CA to solidify more rapidly.  Both Steve and Paresh were mixing on an index card surface without the tape.  I don’t know if they’ve had better results yet!  I decide to use a plastic lid as my new mixing platform.  You can see that I also put some scotch tape down so that I can clean easily.  I place briar dust on the tape and add BSI Extra Thick Max-Cure CA glue.I gradually pull briar dust into the puddle of CA glue and mix it with a toothpick.  I don’t overwhelm the glue with a lot of briar dust but gradually mix more in.As you can see, the CA is not solidifying as I add more.When the resulting mixture thickens to that of molasses, I use the toothpick and trowel the putty to the shank and fill the huge hole.  After filled, I put the stummel aside to allow the briar dust putty to cure.With the hour becoming late, I further advance the internal cleaning with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  The patch on the shank has set up sufficiently.  I fashion a ‘mortise wick’ using a cotton ball. I stretch and twist the cotton until it creates a wick that will serve to draw out the tars and oils from the mortise.  I stuff the wick down the mortise with the help of a stiff wire.  After placing the stummel in a egg carton for stability, I fill the bowl with kosher salt which doesn’t leave an aftertaste as does iodized salt.  I then add isopropyl 95% to the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the alcohol absorbs, and I top off with some additional alcohol and then put the stummel aside to soak through the night.   The next morning, I see what I was hoping to see.  The salt has soiled and after I draw out the wick it shows that it has continued the internal cleaning process of drawing out the tars and oils. After thumping and dumping the expended salt in the waste, I wipe the bowl with a paper towel and blow through the mortise to remove the salt crystals.I follow with a pipe cleaner and cotton bud wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean residue left behind after the soak.  I find that the internals are clean and refreshed for the new steward.  I move on!The crater fill on the lower side of the Lumberman shank has cured, and I begin the process of removing the excess briar putty using a flat needle file.  I file the mound down almost to the briar surface and then I switch to sanding with 240 grade paper to bring the patch flush with the briar surface. As is often the case, from the picture above, you can see the air pockets left in the sanded patch material.  To blend this, I touch up the patch with a dye stick after sanding the patch further using 600 grade paper.Turning now to the rim, the front and sides of the rounded rim have been skinned up a good bit which the following two pictures show. I use 240 grade paper on the rim and go with the rounded rim flow and sand out the roughened areas around the rim. I follow the rim sanding using sanding sponges over the entire stummel, including the rim.  I use a coarse sponge, followed by a medium sponge and finish with a fine sanding sponge.  The briar on this Silver Match Toronto is expressive and It’s coming out nicely with the sanding. After the sponge sanding, I identify a pit on the lower left side of the bowl. I decide to apply a clear CA glue patch to fill this pit.  After cleaning this area with alcohol, I blacken in the pit using a fine point Sharpie Pen then apply a drop of regular clear CA glue and set the stummel aside for the glue to cure. Not long after, the CA glue cures and I file the patch with a flat needle file followed by 240 and 600 grade papers. The result of this quick patch looks good.Waiting in the wings is the short stem of the Lumberman which sports a chipped button.  The button will need to be rebuilt using a mixture of activated charcoal powder and CA glue.I form an initial triangular insert from index card stock which fits into the slot of the button fully.  I had covered the inserted part with a layer of scotch tape to serve as a barrier to the patch material – to easily be able to remove the insert after the charcoal powder and CA mixture cures.  I then insert another triangular piece of card stock into the initial insert.  This serves to expand and tighten the insert.I open one capsule of activated charcoal dust on the plastic disc (also put a few strips of tape down for easier cleaning) and add BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue in a small puddle next to the charcoal powder and mix in gradually using the toothpick.  As with the briar dust putty, I draw charcoal powder into the CA glue until it reaches the viscosity of molasses and then trowel the putty to the stem to fill the missing button cavity. I trowel enough to fully over-coat the area.As hoped, after the charcoal patch sets up after a few minutes, with a bit of wiggling, the insert comes out leaving the slot and airway clear of the patch material.After several hours, the patch material has fully cured, and I go to work using a flat needle file.  I first work on clearing the excess patch material on the end of the stem.To more rapidly remove the mound of excess patch over the button I employ a small sanding drum mounted on the Dremel.  This removes the patch material very easily. I follow using the flat needle file to bring about the fine shaping of the button repair. I follow the filing and shaping of the button with 240 grade sanding paper to further smooth and shape.  I notice significant air bubbles being revealed by the sanding – ugh…Following the 240 paper, sanding with 600 grade paper and 0000 grade steel wool – upper and lower stem, brings out the air pockets even more distinctly. To address the significant presence of air pockets in this button repair, I first darken the pockets with a fine point Sharpie Pen then I paint thin CA glue over the button lip.  I put the stem aside for the CA to cure.Putting the stem aside for the time, I turn back to the stummel sanding it with the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Beginning with pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stummel.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Wow!  The grain on this Silver Match Lumberman is nice.  You can tell that when the grain patterns in the briar are random, as in this stummel, it is usually a good indication that it was cut from the upper part of the burl which is called the ‘branch wood’ section where the branches of the briar shrub form.  This article I’ve found helpful in understanding better the nature of briar grain – Published in Pipes & Tobaccos, Fall 1999, GRAIN: The first of an infrequent series of articles concerning THE BRIAR PIPE By R. D. Field (See: LINK).  The grain that emerges through the micromesh process is very nice – the Silver Match Toronto is shaping up well. The thing that bothers me like a burr under a saddle is the huge crater fill on the underside of the shank. Even with a darkened stain to mask the fill, it will still be there.  Yet, the light briar surrounding it in the current state is too much contrast for me to swallow!  I come to a decision to stain the stummel a dark brown to provide as much blending as possible and to use the staining process to tease out in greater contrast of the grain. I assemble on the worktable all the needed components for applying stain to the stummel.  I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with the possibility of lightening the dye because it’s an aniline dye – alcohol based.  I can wipe it with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to lighten the finish and blend it.  I first clean the surface using isopropyl 95% and a cotton pad and using a cork inserted into the shank as a handle, I heat the stummel with a hot air gun.  This expands the briar and helps the grain to be more receptive to the dye.  I then use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply dye in swatches and then I flame the wet dye using a lit candle.  This immediately combusts the alcohol in the dye and it sets the dye pigment into the surface.  I methodically apply dye to the surface and flame as I go.  I then set the newly dyed stummel aside to allow the dye to rest – I’ll let it sit through the night.  This helps setting the new stain so that it will not come off on the hands when the stummel is first fired up when it goes into service. With the stummel resting, I return to the patched button addressing the air pockets.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures during this process, but the result is shown.  I use a flat file to remove the some of excess patch material and then gently sand with 240 grade paper and 600 paper.  I finish this phase using 0000 steel wool over the entire stem.  I’m not 100% satisfied with the button rebuild, but the stem is structurally ready to return to service.I move straightaway to using micromesh pads on the stem.  I begin wet sanding with pads 1500, 1800, and 2400 and follow with dry sanding with pads 3200, 3600, and 4000 and finish with pads 6000, 8000 and 12000.  Between each set of three I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to help rejuvenate the vulcanite and the expected high-level gloss of the stem makes an appearance.  Nice.  I put the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil. The newly stained stummel rested through the night and it’s time to unwrap the stummel from the flamed crust residue revealing the grain below.  To do this I mount a new felt cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed to the slowest possible to reduce the possibility of overheating with the friction.  I then apply Tripoli compound to the entire stummel.  I have been asked how long this process takes as I ‘plow off’ the crust and ‘clean’ the residue dye revealing the grain detail.  I timed it this time and the Tripoli compound application took me one hour and 10 minutes – yep, that long. When the help of my wife, she takes a picture of the process of removing the crust and revealing the hue of the newly stained briar underneath.  I’m pleased with the results.  The crater fill on the underside of the shank almost disappears as it blends with Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dyed grain.  After I complete the application of Tripoli with the felt cloth wheel, I switch to a cotton cloth wheel, increase the speed to about 40% full power, and again apply Tripoli to the stummel.  I do this for two reasons.  First, with the cotton cloth wheel I’m able to reach into the crook of the bowl and shank which the felt cloth wheel cannot reach.  Secondly, I find that it sharpens the grain presentation as additional excess dye is taken away.  The result is almost like a luminescent effect. After applying the Tripoli, I give the stummel a gentle wipe with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  This lightens the hue a bit and helps blend the new dye.Next, I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel and maintain speed at 40% and apply Blue Diamond compound, less coarse than Tripoli, to both stummel and stem.Next, I again detach the stem and I want to freshen the Silver Match ‘flame’ stamping.  It took me a while to figure out that was what it was – at least that’s what I think it is!  I apply white acrylic paint over the stamp and then gently wipe it off while still wet using the flat side of a toothpick. I use a cotton bud and the point of the toothpick to clean off the excess. The result is about 80% success.  The upper part of the flame wasn’t deep enough to catch the paint.  The result still looks good.After reuniting the stem and stummel, I mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, maintaining 40% full power, and apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe.  I give the pipe a few coats of wax then I give it a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine and complete the restoration of this nice looking pipe.

This Silver Match Toronto Squat Lumberman came out well.  The grain is striking with a smattering of swirls, waves, bird’s eye, and flame…, it’s an expressive piece of briar!  The darkened stain works great and masked the fill on the underside of the shank almost to perfection.  I’m pleased with the button rebuild, though I want to work more on reducing the air pockets in the process.  Overall, this stout Lumberman is ready for service.  Robert commissioned him and has the first opportunity to purchase this pipe from The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!