Tag Archives: topping a bowl

Wow what amazing grain on this tired looking Selected Straight Grain Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is one that neither Jeff nor I remember picking up. It could have come to us through a trade for work on a pipe or it could have come from one of an earlier pipe hunts that either Jeff or I did. Either way, the long and short of it is that this is another pipe that we have no idea how it came into our hands. It is stamped on the left topside of the shank and reads faintly Selected[ arched over] Straight [over] Grain underneath that. The rest of the stamping is lost to overzealous buffing. While I was trying to figure out the stamping on it and finally was able to read the Selected  Straight Grain stamp I remember that I had worked on several with the same stamp in the past and had come understand that they were Comoy’s made pipes. The shape definitely looks like a Comoy’s Canadian shape. It was a nice pipe that showed some extraordinary grain.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.   I took a photo of the rim top to show the interior the bowl and the rim top and inner edge. The rim top and edges were quite damaged with nicks, dents, darkening and burn marks. The vulcanite tape stem is in decent condition with light tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.  I took a photo of the top left side of the shank to try to capture the stamping that was there. It is too faint to pick up with my camera.I found a photo of the same shank stamp when I did a google search for Selected Straight Grain pipes. It perfectly matches the one that is barely visible on the pipe that I am working on now. It is faint but it is identical to that in the photo to the left.

I took the stem off the bowl and took a picture of the parts of the pipe to give a sense of the beauty of the grain on this pipe.Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to double check the connection that my brain had made when I made out the stamping. I turned to a blog that I had written on the restoration of another Selected Straight Grain pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/selected-straight-grain-pipes/). This is what I found.

…I did a bit of hunting online and read on Pipedia that these pipes were made by Comoy’s and were essentially “Specimen Straight Grain” (exceptional line of Comoy’s pipes). The Selected Straight Grain pipes were seconds to the Specimen line that exhibited some small flaw or sand pit. They were listed in the 1965 catalogue at $15 or $17.50 in Extraordinaire size.

I decided to begin my work on the pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and edges. I topped the bowl on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. Once I had finished I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to rework the inner edge of bowl. It took some time but I was able to bring it back to a pretty clean condition.   I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. I carefully avoided damaging the already faint stamping.   I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. It looks quite nice at this point.  With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I used the pads to remove the tooth marks on the stem on both sides near the button. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I was just getting ready to post the final photos of the restored pipe when my daughter’s dog, Frankie came and climbed up on the desk top and laid down in front of me with his head on my arm. He has taken it upon himself to be my buddy when I am working on pipes.

With Frankie’s help I am posting these last photos of the pipe. This beautifully grained Comoy’s Made Selected Straight Grain Canadian is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar is clean and really came alive. The rich medium brown coloured stain gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Selected Straight Grain Canadian is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 26grams/.92oz. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. 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.

 

 

Rescuing a Forsaken ‘No Name’ Smooth Meerschaum Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

This No Name Smooth Meerschaum Billiard was obviously much loved and used by its former steward, but he is a mess!  I’m glad Daniel chose this needy Meerschaum as one of the 7 pipes he commissioned from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection.  The ‘Dreamers’ collection is available for pipe men and women to peruse and choose vintage pipes of varying conditions to be resurrected and adopted.  Some pipes are more needy than others and this No Name Meerschaum qualifies as among the needier!  Yet herein is the challenge for those of us who seek to restore pipes to their former glory and sometimes even better than new: so that they will have another life in service of a new steward.

I acquired this No Name Smooth Meerschaum in 2018 when my son, who was then studying in St. Louis for his master’s degree, came upon a lot of 26 pipes in an antique shop.  Josiah proposed that he contribute to part of the purchase price with the condition that I would choose one pipe among the 26 as a Christmas gift from him – an offer I could not refuse!  I chose the huge French made Champion Churchwarden in the center.  It was a good Christmas for me! The No Name Meer is on the bottom of the picture below – a pipe that pipe man Daniel chose, a Green Bay, Wisconsin, resident, that required a lot of dreaming on his part!Taking a closer look now at the No Name Meer, I take more pictures to show its condition. Now, looking even more closely at the chamber shows a thick cake which Meerschaum pipes do not need!  In fact, no carbon cake buildup is better.  In briar pipes the rule of thumb is a cake the width of a US dime is good to maintain to help protect the briar from premature burn deterioration.  Meerschaum is a mined material that does not deteriorate from the heating of the chamber.  A thick cake could result in cracking the Meerschaum as the carbon expands with its heating.  A quick review of the qualities of Meerschaum come from the Altinok Pipes’ website:

The noble Meerschaum is unique among pipes. Its mysterious properties make it a perfect smoke and, at the same time, a work of art; a pipe highly prized by the Connoisseur and beginning smoker alike. Meerschaum is a German word meaning sea foam. The geologist knows the light, porous Meerschaum as hydrous magnesium silicate. The pipe smoker knows it as the perfect material for providing a cool, dry, flavorful smoke. The mineral itself is the fossilized shells of tiny sea creatures that fell to the ocean floor over 50 million years ago, there to be covered and compressed over the ages by layer upon layer of silt. Profound movements in the earth’s crust raised the creamy white stone of Meerschaum above sea level. Their men eventually discovered it and created an incomparable pipe from it. The first record of Meerschaum as a pipe dates from around 1723.

The rim is also severely caked with lava.  The smooth Billiard stummel surface shows many scratches and cuts amid the dirt also caked over much of the surface.  These closer pictures survey the stummel’s condition. During the stummel survey, I see a small crack in the Meerschaum’s right side of the shank.  Looking at the shank facing, the crack line continues to the acrylic push tenon insert.  It doesn’t appear that this crack is creeping and might pose a problem of integrity to the shank.  This observation is based upon the push tenon insert prohibiting any expansion of the mortise.  The crack most likely happened with a hit on the stem or a drop – only guesses.  One thing is for certain, this crack certainly has not kept the pipe from rugged use!  After cleaning the area, it may be helpful to place a small line of CA glue to seal the hair line crack and to reinforce to be on the safe side of things.The acrylic stem has seen better days too!  It needs a thorough cleaning inside and out.  The acrylic stem is rough and faded.  The bit has been chewed up. To begin the restoration of the No Name Meer Billiard, I begin with clearing the cake in the chamber.  I do not use the Pipnet Reaming Kit blade heads as is the norm with briar pipes.  This could create more surface torque than is good and crack the Meerschaum.  Instead, a slower and less invasive approach is to begin with carefully scraping the chamber with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool and Winchester pocketknife.  With these tools in hand, the caked rim is also carefully scraped.  I repeatedly use ‘carefully’ describing the approach to cleaning the Meerschaum.  As a stone-like substance it can crack and gouge if I’m too aggressive.  Patience is good.  From the scraping, I transition to sanding the chamber using a Sharpie Pen wrapped with 240 grade paper.  I like the progress. Continuing the cleaning process now on the external Meer surface, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad and scrub the stummel and rim.  I take a couple ‘starting’ pictures to mark the progress.  I’m looking forward to what the Murphy’s Soap can do for this ‘No Name’! After scrubbing with the cotton pad and Murphy’s, instead of rinsing the soap off in the sink, I use a wet cotton cloth to wipe the stummel and remove the soap.  I don’t want to saturate the Meer with water in the sink.  The pictures may not show it as clearly as I can see it, but the difference after the cleaning is remarkable.  Not only is the dirt and soil removed, but now the residual hue is identifiable as patina.  There is a gentle darkening of the Meerschaum and some identifiable ‘hot spots’ of the coveted patina.  As the Meerschaum pipe is smoked, the Meer absorbs the oils of the tobacco and smoke and this gradually darkens the stummel with a honey-like hue.  The value of Meerschaum pipes increases with this patina.  Before moving to cleaning the internals of the stummel, I address the darkened scorching of the rim.  The scraping improved the rim’s appearance appreciable, yet it still needs to be cleaned up further.  To do this I use medium and light sanding sponges to top the stummel.  Using sanding sponges gently is not as intrusive as sanding paper. A closeup of the rim not only show the staining but also small chipping on the rim’s edge. After inverting the stummel on the sponges, starting with the medium grade sponge, the stummel is rotated over the sponges.  The results are good.  The rim still shows some patina but is cleaned up considerably.     The pictures above and below show two distinctive and distracting (to me!) residual dark spots in the chamber just below the rim.  I use the Sharpie Pen wrapped with 240 grade paper carefully to sand the spots to remove them.  The potential problem with this pinpointed sanding is to create in the rim a wobble in the circle of the inner rim lip.  This I want to avoid as well.The result is good!Next, I use the light grade sanding sponge and lightly sand the stummel to clean and smooth it somewhat.  Again, the sanding sponge is gentle on the surface. To polish and smooth the surface, next I apply to the stummel surface the last 4 micromesh pads, 4000 to 12000.  It is not my purpose to sand out all the nicks and marks that have left imperfections in the Meerschaum.  I want to guard the aged patina that this No Name Meer has earned.  I’ve read on groups and forums that often restoration of Meerschaum pipes is too aggressive, and the goal is somewhat different than briar pipes.  With briars, a restoration seeks to return the pipe to its original pristine unsmoked state.  However, with Meerschaums that have aged, the value is to preserve the current good state of that aging process – preserving the hues and patina.  Aggressive sanding would remove all imperfections but also return the Meerschaum to a pure white state – the color that Meerschaums generally have in the store (there are exceptions to this!).  Before moving on to the stem, I clean the internals of the stummel using cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 99%.  A small dental spoon is used to reach into the mortise, beyond the push tenon insert, to scrape the walls.  Shank brushes also were used to complete the task.Now to the stem.  Using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 99% I go do work on the internals of the stem.  The tenon is also cleaned up using cotton pads and alcohol.  I use a long dental probe to scrape and clean around the internals of the tenon as well.  My assumption is that the stem is acrylic, but it feels almost like plastic in some ways.  It doesn’t appear to be a high-grade acrylic, but it does clean up in time and I move on!   I mentioned earlier that this pipe was well loved by his former steward.  Well loved. but poorly maintained!  With the stem clean, I take another look at the condition of the bit. The bit has been chewed excessively with tooth compressions littering the landscape on the upper and lower bit.  The former steward obviously used this pipe to contemplate much or comfortably clinching while his hands were free actively engaged in other activities on the workbench or table.     An attempt to only sand out this damage would leave the acrylic dangerously thin so I decide to build up the bit area using clear CA glue which will be transparent and able to allow the stem color to come through.  The bit is thoroughly cleaned using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 99%.  I want the bit as clean as possible because I don’t want to encase a dirty stem!  Discoloration will show through the patch.  To build up the compressed and chewed bit I apply a few layers of CA glue.  I use an accelerator after the application of each layer to build up the patch material.  The accelerator causes the glue to cure very quickly keeping it in place.  I also apply a few layers of CA to the button lip – upper and lower, which have also sustained some chewing damage.  After applying the CA glue, with the hour late, the lights are switched off and the stem will await tomorrow’s efforts!   The next morning, I have a few hours in the earlier morning to work on the No Name Meerschaum and to do some activities on the ‘to do’ list with my wife!  Still getting settled here in Golden, Colorado, had me hanging pictures in the foyer as one of the items on the list!  Also, grandchildren will be coming over this morning while their super mom goes to the local Costco to stock up on the necessities.  The CA patch has cured through the night.  With the bit CA patch ready for filing, I begin the shaping using a flat needle file. I initially file along the button to reestablish and refresh the lip.  I’ll leave the button lips for sanding later.  After the lip has been scored and defined, filing continues to bring the patch down to the acrylic stem’s surface.  The process is the same for the upper and lower bit.And lower:Next, I use the flat needle file to flatten and define the slot facing.  Then, using a sharp, rounded needle file, the slot itself is cleaned up and sharpened.  I like how it’s looking!With the main filing completed, the process transitions to 240 sanding paper.  The focus is on continuing to smooth and shape the bit and button patch area, but the sanding is expanded to the entire stem to clean the roughness and cuts.  I utilize a plastic disc on the tenon side to guard the crisp edge from shouldering.   Transitioning next to 600 grade sanding paper, the entire stem is again sanded followed by applying 0000 grade steel wool. The transformation of the stem has been remarkable.     On a roll, the stem is next the recipient of the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Starting with pads 1500 to 2400, the stem is wet sanded.  Then, with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, the stem is dry sanded.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to help rejuvenate the acrylic stem. As I was sanding, I asked my wife what kind of material she thought this stem was?  Her response was that it was acrylic, but that it had a different feel to it than other acrylic materials.  I had asked her because I noticed as I was moving through the micromesh pads, normally I would expect the acrylic to shine more during the micromesh progression.  This stem did, but only little. Instead of glossing up, it deepened it color and remains a more of a matte finish. I asked her next what color she would say it was?  Her response after rattling off a few colors and then shaking them off – ‘no’, she settled on a dark mottled ivory.  That sounds good to me!    After completing the micromesh cycles, the stem and stummel were reunited to get a look at the progress to this point.  I’m liking very much what I’m seeing.     Before moving forward, the question of the small crack on the right side of the shank is in view.  Because the crack is not a new one and it doesn’t appear to have any pressure on it so that it would progress, it wouldn’t appear to be an impediment to the integrity of the shank. Yet, I decide to be on the safe side to apply a small amount of clear, thin, CA glue to the crack line.  In the picture below, the scratch to the left of the crack is not a crack, but a deeper scratch.  At first glance one is left with the impression that it is a triangular fissure that would inevitably break.  I’ve inserted arrows to identify the crack. To shore up the crack, the thin CA glue applied fills the fissure and when cured, should provide additional reinforcement.  I put the stummel aside to allow the CA glue to cure.After the CA glue cures, using a 240 grade piece of sanding paper tightly rolled, I surgically sanded the thin mound of patch material running down the crack line.  I want to keep the abrasion of sanding off the Meerschaum surface surrounding the patch.  When the mound is removed, I follow by wet sanding with grade 600 paper to further smooth and blend.Call me a perfectionist and it would not be false.  After finishing sanding the shank crack patch, I did a quick survey of the surface of the Meerschaum Billiard stummel and I wasn’t satisfied that the surface was as clean as it should be.  I decide to run the stummel through the full micromesh regimen by dry sanding with pads 1500 to 12000.  I’m satisfied now. Next, I apply beeswax to the Meerschaum stummel.  Beeswax has been used to polish and protect Meerschaum for a millennium.  The beeswax on my table came with me from Bulgaria and it is a darker hue.  The Meer seems to respond well to it.  I keep the wax in a mason jar that is impervious to heat.  I use a hot air gun to heat and melt the beeswax in the jar.  I then use a real, horsehair paint brush to apply the melted wax to the stummel surface after the stummel is also warmed with the hot air gun.  I’ve learned the hard way not to use a synthetic brush because it will melt.  When the wax has melted, I paint the stummel.  I direct the hot air gun on the stummel while I’m doing this to help keep the wax thin during application.The beeswax congeals quickly and I allow it to cool.After cooled, the edge of a former clothespin is used to scrape the excess wax off the stummel surface.  This helps to remove the hardened wax before using a cloth rag.Next, using a microfiber cloth I continue to wipe and rub the stummel to remove the excess congealed wax.  This takes some time because the beeswax is firm and isn’t easily wiped off.  When the excess is finally removed gradually in the progression, it’s nice to see the beeswax shine on the clean Meerschaum emerge!   The beeswax is absorbed into the microscopic, porous surface of the Meerschaum.Next, with the stummel now waiting for the stem, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the rotary tool and set it at about 40% full power and I begin to apply Blue Diamond to the stem alone.  The effort did not last long. As I started applying the Blue Diamond compound with the rotary tool, I notice almost immediately that the surface of the stem rippled from the heat generated by both the high spin of the buffing wheel and the compound.  I stop immediately.  I discovered that the material composition of the stem does not tolerate the speed and the friction. I decide to forgo application of Blue Diamond and try my hand at applying carnauba wax to the stem.  I set the speed slightly slower and move the wheel more rapidly over the surface of the stem as I apply the carnauba wax.  It works well and I had no further difficulties.After some thought, I decide on one additional project for the No Name Meerschaum Billiard.  Earlier I started thinking about adding a band to the pipe to not only give added support for the shank crack repair, but in addition, give this No Name a bit of classy bling.  I went through my assortment of brass bands and ferrules and found a perfect candidate.  I found a perfect brass ring that wraps the facing edge and fit just over the end of the shank.  To complete the mounting of the ring fully over the shank facing, I heat it with a hair dryer which softens the metal allowing it to expand.    After the ring is heated enough, I firmly direct the shank downward pressing the ring more firmly in place over the end of the shank facing.  It works perfectly.I like the look of the brass ring – it adds a bit of class to a very deserving No Name that has come a long way, endured a lot and ready to serve again! The stem and stummel are reunited and the restoration is finished with a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.  I’ve enjoyed seeing this battered pipe come back to life.  As I said at the beginning – the fact that it had been used into almost oblivion proves that he’s a good smoker as a classic Meerschaum.  Now he’s ready for a second life.  This No Name Meerschaum Billiard is Daniel’s third pipe of seven that he has commissioned and he will have the first opportunity to claim the Meerschaum in The Pipe Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Fresh Life for a Small Imported Briar Kettle Mini Churchwarden


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is a mini churchwarden that we picked up somewhere in our travels. Neither of us remembers where we found it but it is an interesting pipe. Looking at it brought back all kinds of memories. Do you remember when the Salvation Army used have the big kettle sitting on the side walk or hanging from a tripod in front of shops during the Christmas season? There would be folks ringing bells there and taking donations for their work with the poor. When I look at this pipe that is what I see in the bowl. It is shaped like a kettle with feet on the bottom of the bowl. The feet make it a sitter. It is a nice looking briar bowl with rusticated triangles on both side of the bowl and the rest of the bowl is a mix of various grains. The long vulcanite stem is tweaked to the left from sitting in the heat somewhere and will need to be straightened out and re-bent. The bowl has a rich reddish brown colour combination that highlights grain. The pipe has some grime ground into the surface of the rustication and the smooth finish. This pipe is stamped on the sides of the shank. On the left it reads Imported Briar. On the underside it reads Made in Italy. There is a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the top and inner edge of the bowl. The rim top looks good but it is hard to be certain with the lava coat. The stem was oxidized, calcified and there were some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The pipe looks to be in good condition under the grime. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake and the thick lava coat. It is hard to know what the condition of the rim top and edges is like under that thick lava. It is an incredibly dirty pipe but obviously one that was a great smoker. The vulcanite taper stem had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.    He took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the mixture of grain around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. You can see the grime ground into the surface of the briar.    He took a photo of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. It was time to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. Other than the damaged rim top and twisted stem the pipe looked good.   I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. The inner edge of the bowl was in very rough condition. The rim top and the edges of the bowl had darkening, burn marks and some nicking. The vulcanite stem had light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges.  It also was slightly twisted to the left side.  The stamping on the sides of the shank is clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a interesting looking pipe that should clean up very well. I started working on the pipe by wiping the bowl down with acetone to remove the spotty varnish coat from the bowl and shank. I wiped it down with a cotton pad until the varnish coat was gone and the grain began to stand out.  I liked the way the rusticated panels looked at this point as well. I reworked the damaged rim top and edges. I worked over the rim top and inner bevel of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper. I smooth out the damage and gave the  rim top and edge a clean look that would polish out nicely. I wiped the rim top down with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris.   I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad.     I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.  I set the bowl aside and turned to the stem. I heated it with a heat gun and worked the twist out of the vulcanite. I also gave it a more subtle bend that allowed the feet on the kettle bowl to sit flat on the desk top.    I polished the Lucite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. The photo below shows the polished stem. This nicely grained Imported Briar Kettle Mini Churchwarden with a long taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar is clean and really came alive. The rich reddish, brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Kettle Mini Churchwarden is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 7 inches, Height: 1 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: ½ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 19grams/.67oz.Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Fresh Life for a Savinelli Oscar Lucite 111KS Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us 2018 from a fellow in Pocatello, Idaho, USA. It is a nice looking Billiard with cross grain and birdseye grain and has a Fancy Lucite half saddle stem. The Lucite stem fits the name on the left side Oscar Lucite. The bowl has a rich reddish brown colour combination that highlights grain. The pipe has some grime ground into the surface of the briar. The finish had a few small fills around the sides but they blended in fairly well. This pipe is stamped on the sides of the shank. On the left it reads Oscar [over] Lucite. On the right it has a Savinelli “S” Shield and next to that was the shape number 111KS [over] Italy. There is a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the top beveled inner edge of the bowl. The rim top looks good but it is hard to be certain with the lava coat. There were some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the Lucite stem near the button. The pipe looks to be in good condition under the grime. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake and the thick lava coat. It is hard to know what the condition of the rim top and edges is like under that thick lava. It is an incredibly dirty pipe but obviously one that was a great smoker. The acrylic half saddle stem had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.   He took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the beautiful grain around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. You can see the grime ground into the surface of the briar. He took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Savinelli Product. I turned first to Pipephil’s site to look at the Savinelli write up there and see if I could learn anything about the Oscar Lucite line (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-savinelli3.html). There was a listing for the Oscar Lucite and I did a screen capture of the pertinent section.I looked up the Savinelli brand on Pipedia to see if I could find the Oscar Lucite line and the 111KS Shape (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Savinelli). There was nothing that tied directly to the line I am working on. There is a detailed history of the brand there that is a good read. I also captured the shape chart and boxed in the 111KS shape in red. The shape is identical to the one that I am working on. The stem on this one is the original shape that was on the Lucite Line but there was no shooting star logo on the left side.It was time to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub all-purpose cleanser and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. Other than the damaged rim top the pipe looked good.   I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. The rim top was in very rough condition. The rim top and the edges of the bowl had darkening, burn marks and some nicking. The Lucite half saddle stem had light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges.  The stamping on the sides of the shank is clear and readable as noted above.     I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a nice looking billiard that should clean up very well. I started working on the pipe by dealing with the damaged rim top and edges. I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I worked over the rim top and inner bevel of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper. I smooth out the damage and gave the  rim top and edge a clean look that would polish out nicely. I wiped the rim top down with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris.   I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad.     I stained the rim top with an Oak stain pen to match the rest of the bowl. Once I buffed and polished the bowl it would be a perfect match. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.  I polished the Lucite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. The photo below shows the polished stem. This nicely grained Savinelli Made Oscar Lucite 11KS Billiard with Lucite half saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar is clean and really came alive. The rich reddish, brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Oscar Lucite Billiard is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 46grams/1.62oz.Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring a No Name Tortoise Shell Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is one that neither Jeff nor I remember picking up. It could have come to us through a trade for work on a pipe or it could have come from one of an earlier pipe hunts that either Jeff or I did. Either way, the long and short of it is that this is another pipe that we have no idea how it came into our hands. It is an attractive no name billiard with a tortoise shell stem with a fancy trio of acrylic and wood decoration on the shank end of the stem. It had a smooth finish on the bowl and a inwardly beveled rim top. Under grime on the finish it appears that pipe may have had a light brown or tan stain to highlight the grain around the bowl. There were a few small sand pit fills around the bowl on the left back and the top and right side of the shank. The pipe had no stamping on the shank or underside. There was also no identifying stamp on the stem. It was in decent condition when I brought it to the table. The finish was dirty with grime ground into the briar sides and rim. There was a light cake in the bowl and light lava on the rim top and some damage on rear inner edge of the bowl. The stem was dirty but otherwise in good condition. There were light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. I took photos of the pipe before my cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe.  I took a photo of the rim top to show the interior the bowl and the rim top and inner edge. It is moderately caked with some damage to the rim top and edges and some lava coat on the right and back top of the rim. The Tortoise Shell stem is in decent condition with light tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. The two black acrylic bands were slightly smaller in diameter than the stem and the wooden insert so it gave those areas a slight bulge. I would need to smooth out the transition on both sides of the black acrylic on the stem.I took photos of the sides of the shank to show the lack of stamping. There was no stamping on the shank so it was a bit of a mystery pipe. I took the stem off the bowl and took a picture of the parts of the pipe to give a sense of the parts of the pipe.I decided to begin my work on the pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and edges. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean off the rim top and the inner edge of bowl. It took some time but I was able to bring it back to a pretty clean condition.  There is a large fill on the rim top on the back right side.The pipe had been reamed recently so all I had to do with it was clean out the shank and airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I was surprised that I also was removing some brown stain from the end of the shank.    The diameter of the shank and the diameter of the black Lucite bands on the stem did not match. I decided to sand down the shank and stem to try and smooth out the transition between them. I sanded the shank as well as the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth. This served a dual purpose of both removing the sanding debris and the dust that had accumulated in the rustication patterns around the bowl and shank.  Once I was finished the flow between the stem and shank was much smoother.  I touched up the light areas on the sanded shank and the rim top with a Maple stain pen that matched the finish on the rest of the bowl very well.   I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. It looks quite nice at this point.     With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I had sanded the stem earlier to deal with the flow of the bands on the stem end. I also sanded it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I used the pads to remove the tooth marks on the stem on both sides near the button. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I am excited to finish this No Name Tortoise Shell Stem Billiard. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping through on the bowls sides and rim top. Added to that the polished Tortoise Shell acrylic stem was beautiful. This smooth finished Billiard turned out to be a nice looking pipe that feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 49grams/1.73oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store in the Metal and Pipes from Various Makers section soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

Discovering the Vintage of a Paul Viou ‘Feather’ with the Help of Sebastien Beaud of Genod Pipes of St. Claude


Blog by Dal Stanton

When I first laid eyes on this unique ‘Feather’ or ‘Plume’ shaped pipe, I debated adding it to my own personal collection and not posting it in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection, making it available for pipe men and women to commission.  Well, the Feather did find a place in the ‘Dreamers’ collection and Daniel eventually added the P. Viou Feather to his trove of commissioned pipes totaling 7(!) benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  I acquired the P. Viou Feather from the French eBay auction block in 2018.  This ‘French Lot of 50’, which is what I have affectionately called it, has offered up several treasures – one restoration that became my first publication adding to Pipedia’s wealth of information (See: Discovering the History with the Reclamation of this Petite EPC Majestic Bent Horn Stem Billiard and for Pipedia contribution see: A. Pandevant & Roy Co.).  The picture of the Lot provided by the Parisian seller only created the urge to know what was hidden within the tangle of stems and stummels.  That I could see so many interesting shapes and horn stems supplied the impetus to acquire the Lot.  The P. Viou Feather is mostly hidden in the picture (arrow below left) and it wasn’t until later after the package arrived in Sofia and I gleefully sorted and grouped the pipes that I came to realize the treasure trove of pipes in this Lot.  The Feather grouping is pictured below.Looking more closely at the P. Viou Feather, I take some additional pictures. The nomenclature is worn and thin at points but generally recognizable.  On the left flank is stamped in fancy cursive ‘P’ [underscored] followed by ‘Viou’ which is punctuated with a flared underline.  The COM stamped on the right flank of the Feather stummel reads: St CLAUDE [over] FRANCE.  St. Claude is the pipe center of France and the birthplace of the production of briar pipes.  The horn stem is also stamped, P. VIOU.  This stamp is also thin, but I’m hopeful to refresh it later.     I had the opportunity of restoring another Paul Viou from the French Lot of 50 – a Churchwarden (See: Recommissioning a Vintage French Paul Viou Churchwarden of St. Claude).   There is scant information about the Paul Viou name on the internet that I could find.  Pipedia’s article of Paul Viou is brief:

From Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes’

Paul Viou was the brand and name of a French artisan who sold his pipes by correspondence and then he was a pipe supplier for military institutions. He also made sculpted pipes and sometime used horn stems.

The brand is currently sold by Jacques Craen and made by Genod in Saint-Claude, after having also belonged to Paul Guilland and Vuillard. They are stamped P. Viou and made primarily for export.

This information is confirmed by Pipephil.eu with the addition of the date of 2006 when the Paul Viou name transferred to Sebastien Beaud of Genod.As I broaden my online research, I discover that Sebastien Beaud is an interesting story.  He currently is the owner of the Genod house of pipes in St. Claude and is a younger entrepreneur.  In trying to find out further information about Paul Viou, Genod information is prevalent in the research.  The Pipedia article dedicated to Genod of St. Claude is also interesting (See: Genod).  The Genod story began in 1865 when Comoy founded pipe production in St. Claude.  In 1923 the production is taken over by Georges Vincent and in 1939, son in law John Craen joined Vincent.  John Craen’s son, Jacques, joined the business in 1959 and took over the business in 1977 where he expanded the Genod name and opened the shop in St. Claude to visitors to observe the pipe production.

From the same Pipedia article: In 2006 the young pipemaker Sebastien Beaud started his work in Jacky’s factory. As Craen himself he took over the brand Viou to start with. In future he will take over the business in its entire and continue this sympathetic workshop in its traditional way.

In the excerpt above, the Paul Viou line is mentioned as continuing under Genod during the Craen period, then Sebastien Beaud took over the Viou line.  Unfortunately, this article nor the article in Pipedia dedicated to Paul Viou, provide much in the way of specific dating of the Paul Viou branding.

I’ve searched several forums for answers to questions regarding when the historical Paul Viou began production using this name?  The Paul Viou Feather, or Plume (French translation) appears to have some age.  The horn stem would suggest a dating in the 1940s during the rubber shortages of WW2.  Horn became a ‘go to’ material in place of rubber compound stems.  Yet, a question arises regarding this older dating when I discovered in Genod’s current offerings of pipes on its website an almost identical ‘Plume’ yet, not with a horn stem but an ebonite or vulcanite stem (See: Link). Also missing is the P. Viou nomenclature. Furthermore, more than many pipe manufacturers today, Genod’s quality offerings include many horn stemmed options.  I like this(!) but it brings into question the necessity of an older dating for the P. Viou on my worktable.With the foundational question being, when did the P. Viou name begin?  Was it before or during the Craen era of Genod?  Was the P. Viou stamp on this Feather an indicator of a pre-Genod production?  My experience with tracking down and nailing down French pipe production details has never been easy but always interesting!

Potentially to find answers about the dating of the Paul Viou name, I sent an email via the ‘Contact’ form provided on the Genod website.  I have been surprised in the past to receive responses from ‘Hail Mary’ requests to pipe houses in Europe and America.  We’ll see what happens.

Well, I am continually amazed at ‘names’ in the pipe world being accessible to folks like me!  The next day I received a reply from Sebastien Beaud, currently at the helm of Genod.  I include my original message with the replies that followed:

DAL:   Greetings,  Thank you in advance for your time! I restore vintage pipes and publish the restoration process and research online at www.ThePipeSteward.com. I have restored some Paul Viou pipes and have researched a lot and enjoy the connection of Paul Viou and Genod. However, there is very little information that I can find on the internet regarding Paul Viou, historically. Can you please provide any information about Paul Viou’s origins, when he lived, when the P. Viou name started being placed on pipes? My current restoration is a P. Viou Plume with a horn stem. I see that you still produce these shapes on your website but with Ebionite stems. I’m trying to determine the potential dating of this pipe but cannot find much information about when Paul Viou came onto the pipe scene. Thanks so much for your help in advance if you are able!

———–

Dear Dal,

Congratulations for your work and your website! All I know about Paul Viou is that as a former officer in the French army, he used to advertise his pipes in the army magazines.  So he used to sell a lot to the soldiers during the Algerian war, back in the 50’s / 60’s. He ran the business together with his wife Odette.  Their workshop was located right next to ours, and when they got old, Jacques Craen, started making pipes for them.  At the same time, Jacques Craen created the “Genod” brand to start selling directly to the smokers instead of selling to whole sellers. Genod is a tribute to his grandfather Georges Vincent-Genod (on his mother’s side) with whom he had learned and from whom he inherited the workshop. In the early 90’s, Jacques bought the Paul Viou brand and customers’ addresses file. I myself took over when Jacques retired, and kept Paul Viou’s name for a while, but it is the exact same product as a Genod pipe, so now I stamp all the pipes “Genod”.  I hope this helps.

Best regards,
Sebastien BEAUD
www.maitrepipier.fr
SARL GENOD VIOU
13 Faubourg Marcel – BP 145
39205 SAINT CLAUDE Cedex FRANCE
Tél. (+33) (0)3 84 45 00 47

———

DAL: Sebastien,  Thank you so much for responding to my inquiries! This information needs to be added to Pipedia. If I could ask one follow up question regarding the pipe on my worktable. The nomenclature is the cursive ‘P. Viou’ and COM: St. Claude, France. The horn stem is stamped, ‘P. Viou’. Can you venture a guess as to what period this ‘Plume’ was manufactured with this nomenclature and horn stem?   Before the Jacques Craen period (50/60s?) or when Jacques Craen was making them for Paul Viou (60/70s) or during the Genod period starting in the 70s but still using the ‘P. Viou’ stamp? I hope you can understand this! I’m simply trying to place this pipe in a time period. I’ve attached a few pictures if this is a help.  Again, much thanks.

———

Dear Dal,

I think this pipe has been made by Jacques Craen back in the 80’s (even though it could also be the 90’s or late 70’s).

Best regards,

Sebastien BEAUD

With deep appreciation to Sebastien Beaud for his time and for the information he supplied, I have a much better understanding of the Paul Viou name and a small piece of the man himself.  Valuable information added was regarding Paul Viou, the man.  He was formerly an officer in the French army – a military man but also a pipe man/entrepreneur.  Apparently after his time with the military and residing in St. Claude, he was undoubtedly very much a part of the ‘pipe world’ milieu and at one point added his hand to the pipe making industry.  With his connections in the military, he advertised his pipes in the military magazines of the time and in military institutions.

It is noteworthy that Sebastien pinpoints this activity during the Algerian War.  A quick search on the internet renders a Wikipedia article describing the war that was from 1954 to 1962 that found France engaged in a ‘decolonization’ war with the Algerian National Liberation Front and facing turbulent times at home with a war that garnered international attention.  The war gradually resulted in an independent Algeria – much resembling the turmoil of the Viet Nam conflict of the United States.  Paul Viou had developed his business selling pipes and during this difficult time, with French servicemen abroad, Paul Viou, along with the support of his wife, Odette, provided pipes for the troops via army magazine adds.  The personal relationship between Jacques Craen and Viou family is interesting – their shops were next door to each other and the aging of the senior Viou created a transition from Paul Viou’s actively working in the shop to his work being done by Jacques.  During this transition period, undoubtedly steps were taken to sign over the Viou name to Craen and the Vincent-Genod legacy.  Another transition alluded to by Sebastien’s words – the brand created by Jacques, “Genod”, was a tribute to his grandfather.  The Viou brand joined the Genod brand and again, this legacy was passed on to Sebastien Beaud.  The Viou name is no longer used to mark pipes, but the quality of the Viou pipe was brought under Genod craftsmanship.

One last question I brought to Sebastien was the dating of the P. Viou Feather on my worktable.  His qualified answer is somehow in sync with French pipe dating in general!  Most likely the P. Viou Feather is from the hands of Jacques in the 80s, but the late 70s or the 90s could be possibilities as well!  Much thanks to Sebastien Beaud for his help in this project!

One very interesting piece of information related to horn stems I discovered on the Genod site written by Sebastien Beaud in March of 2020 regarding Genod’s current use of horn stems (See tab: All About Pipes).  More than most pipe houses, Genod continues to fit their pipes with horn stems which I find interesting.  His article was excellent and apropos since a horn stem from the Genod house is now on the worktable!  I include his article which taught me a good bit!

Close up on the horn!

March 16, 2020in All about the pipe by Sébastien Beaud

Most of the pipes fitted to briar pipes are made of ebonite because this material combines flexibility and resistance to wear by the teeth. But other materials are interesting for the production of pipes. There is one that is dear to us, because it is comfortable, beautiful, and presents various shades of colors, it is the horn.

 Which horn for pipe stems?

The horn is made of hairs bonded with keratin, the material from which our nails are made. This hair-armed keratin protects and strengthens the bone that grows on each side of the head of cattle. The horn we use to make the pipe stems is that of the zebu. It can reach 1 meter in length. As we have seen, a horn is hollow because it contains a bone. Therefore, only the end (the tip) is suitable for turning work. A cow’s horn is therefore not long enough to be used in turning.

Zebus also have a brown, white or marbled coat, their horn presents a magnificent variety of shades, ranging from sometimes very dark brown to blond, the association of the two colors being called “marbled”.

 Filming on horn.

The zebu is bred for its meat in Brazil, Argentina and Madagascar. The horns, instead of being lost like the other inedible parts, are exported for use in the manufacture of combs, knife handles, beads, and of course, for turning pipe stems.

Once arrived in the workshops of the Jura, the horns are possibly softened by heating in a bath or steam, in order to straighten them by pressing.  Then comes cutting, turning, shaping, then drilling. Now here is a straight pipe stem.
If necessary, it can be bent in a “form” press dipped in a hot oil bath, and there it is, ready to be adjusted to the heather.

 How to maintain the horn?

An organic material, the horn offers a soft contact, and quickly takes the mark of the teeth. And what a pleasure to combine plants and animals in a beautiful object!  The maintenance of horn pipes is very simple: just avoid exposure to heat sources, and if you want to prevent the shine of the pipe fading over time, you can rub it regularly with a simple cloth, as a polish.  Choose now the pipe with horn stem that suits you, fill it with your favorite mixture, natural or aromatic, and… good tasting!

With a better understanding of the Paul Viou name and man who originally have his name to the pipes, I take a critical look at the Feather or Plume shape now on the worktable.  The grain on the stocky Feather stummel is attractive.  The briar block was cut allowing very intricate Bird’s Eye grain to emerge on both sides.  Looking at the stummel straight on – at the nose of the ‘torpedo’, the cross grain is visible connecting the sides creating the cross grain perspective.The finish on the briar is dark and in need of cleaning.  The surface shows dents and scrapes on the heel of the stummel as well as on the upper side.  The diminutive size of the Feather allows it to be the perfect ‘pocket pipe’ but in the pocket are keys and change to compete with!  The chamber has light cake buildup and will be removed to allow a fresh start for the briar.  The rim also shows caking which needs removing so that the condition of the rim can be seen more clearly and to rediscover the rim’s grain.  There are nicks and dents around the rise to the rim.  The horn stem is predominantly a dark hue except for near the bit area where it lightens.  The horn is rough but should clean up very nicely.I start the restoration of the P. Viou Feather by addressing the cake in the chamber. Only the smallest blade head is accommodated by the 3/4-inch diameter chamber.  The process of clearing the carbon cake transitions quickly to employing the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls.  The rim is carefully scraped as well with my Winchester pocketknife then the chamber is sanded with 240 grade sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  The progress looks good.  With the chamber cleared of the cake buildup, After taking a starting picture, I clean the external briar surface using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap.  The stummel is scrubbed with a cotton pad as well as utilizing a brass bristled brush to work on the darkened rim. The brass brush will not negatively impact the briar as it scrubs the rim.To further the cleaning the stummel is transitioned to the sink.  Using warm water, shank brushes are employed with anti-oil liquid dish washing soap to clean the internal mortise chamber.  The brass bristled brush is used a bit more on the rim.  Back at the worktable I take another picture to show the cleaning progress.  The cleaning did a great job revealing very nice looking briar. The rim is much improved as well.  With a clean stummel before me, I take a closer look at the dents and pits primarily on the underside of the stummel I observed earlier.  The rough surface is from normal wear placing the Feather stummel down on the table or other harder surfaces.  The pictures show the comparison of ‘before and after’ to see how much progress is made with the repair.The approach I take capitalizes on the fact that wood is a very porous substance – spongelike in its composition.  Using a hot iron (with my wife’s permission!), I place a wetted cloth between a hot iron and the dents and press.  The heat generated by the iron heats the water in the cloth turning it into steam which permeates the briar surface with water.  The hot steamed water is absorbed and softens the wood allowing it to regain all or some of its pre-damaged condition. A comparison after several steaming sessions shows that the main heel damaged has lessened in its severity as the briar has expanded.  The side dent is now almost invisible.  To repair the residual pitting, using a toothpick as a guide, clear CA glue is spot dropped to fill the pits.  I put the stummel aside to allow the CA to cure.Turning now to the horn stem, pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99% are used to clean the airway.  Along with smooth and bristled pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99%, shank brushes are used to clean the airway.  A dental probe is used to scrape inside the slot as well as inside the nickel tenon.  Eventually, the pipe cleaners begin to emerge lighter and I move on.Before continuing working on restoring the horn stem surface, I place a piece of painter’s tape over the thin P. Viou stem stamping to protect it. In no way do I desire to contribute to its demise!I approach working on horn stem much like on vulcanite stems.  I take a few more pictures looking at the current condition of the horn material – upper and lower.  I like the solid blackish hue of the horn’s midsection contrasting with the gradual lightening of the bit.The condition of the stem is good except for one small tooth compression on the lower bit.  I fill it with a drop of CA glue and allow it to cure before sanding. The CA patches on the stummel heel have cured.  A flat needle file is used to file the glue mounds down to the briar surface. Transitioning to 240 grade paper, the patches are sanded further followed by 600 grade paper. I’m pleased with the results.  There is almost no visible reminder remaining of the rough area.  The repair blends nicely. The rim continues with darkened, scorched areas.  There are nicks as well on the right side of the rim (top of the picture below).  Using a hard backing behind a piece of 240 sanding paper, the slightly canted bevel is sanded and refreshed.  Following the 240 paper, the same is done with 600 grade paper.  I’m pleased with the refreshed rim.   Next, utilizing the full regimen of micromesh pads, the stummel is sanded.  Before sanding, painters’ tape is used to cover the P. Viou and COM on the sides of the stummel.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 the stummel is wet sanded.  Following this, the stummel is dry sanded with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The protective tape was removed for the last 3 pads to even out the briar tone.  The beauty of the briar grain emerges through the micromesh process – I’m liking what I see!   Before returning to the stem, I’m looking forward to applying Mark Hoover’s ‘Before and After Restoration Balm’ to the stummel.  I apply some of the Balm to my fingers and rub it into the briar surface.  At first it has a cream-like consistency but as it works into the briar it transforms into a waxy consistency.  After applying the Balm, the stummel is set aside for 20 minutes or so for the Balm to enrich the briar.  After 20 minutes I use a microfiber cloth to wipe off excess Balm and then hand buff the stummel to raise the shine.  I like the way the Restoration Balm enhances the natural hues of the briar.Returning now to the horn stem, the sanding process is much like that of vulcanite stems.  After the CA patch has cured filling a tooth compression, using the flat needle file, the lower bit patch is filed until level with the stem surface.  The file also helps to refresh the lower button lip. Next, I transition to 240 sanding paper and smooth further the lower bit blending the patch more.  Flipping the stem over, the upper bit is sanded to smooth and tighten the horn surface from normal wear.   Next, the entire stem is wet sanded using 600 grade paper.As with vulcanite stems, next I apply 0000 steel wool to the entire stem to smooth and shine further. While using steel wool, I also apply it to the nickel tenon which shines it up very nicely.  Next, with the P. Viou stem stamping still covered with painters’ tape, the stem is the recipient of the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Starting with pads 1500 to 2400, the horn is wet sanded.  Following the wet sanding, I dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I remove the tape for the last two pads to sand more closely to blend the area.  Obsidian Oil is applied and worked into the horn between each set of 3 pads.  The horn almost ‘drinks up’ the oil. To get a look at the progress, the stummel and horn stem are reunited.  Two issues surface after I do this. The seating of the stem into the mortise is off.  The next picture shows this with a gap of sunlight on the upper side of the connection point.  To remedy this, I fold a piece of 240 sanding paper and insert it between the lower halves of the stem and stummel and sand in a sawing motion.  This hopefully will even out the high point to bring the two faces back together flush – or as close as possible.   The result is good. There is still some daylight, but I’m satisfied at this point.  Sanding to remedy an unseated stem can be a bit finicky and sometimes ‘less’ is ‘more’ – I don’t want to complicate things!The other issue that emerged was that through the cleaning process the internal mortise cavity expanded somewhat so that the nickel tenon is not as snug as it should be.  The ways to fix this are limited.  If this were a vulcanite stem and tenon, the approach would be to expand the width of the tenon by heating it and forcing expansion by wedging the end of a drill bit in the softened tenon airway.  A nickel tenon, however, does not expand.  The remedy is to paint the external surface of the metal tenon with an acrylic nail polish or with CA glue.  The results are the same.  The hardening of the acrylic creates a hardened layer around the metal tenon, thus expanding its diameter and creating a snugger fit seated into the mortise.  I use a small bottle of acrylic nail polish and apply the acrylic polish with the small brush that comes along with the bottle. After each coating, I wait until the acrylic is cured before applying another layer.  After each cycle, the tenon is carefully fitted into the mortise to determine if another layer is needed.  To help it to dry evenly after each application, I ‘post’ the stem vertically on the end of a chop stick.  After several coats of clear acrylic nail polish, the fit of the stem was much snugger.  Mission accomplished.   Next, I attempt to refresh the P. Viou stem stamping, but am not successful.  The vestiges of the stamping were not deep enough to allow the white acrylic paint to grab the stamp channels.  After several attempts, I settle for what is. Now on the homestretch.  After mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, speed set at about 40% full power, I apply Blue Diamond compound to horn stem and stummel.  After completing this, a felt cloth is used to buff the pipe to clear the compound dust before applying the wax.To apply carnauba wax, the cotton cloth wheel is changed to a wheel dedicated to carnauba.  With the speed on the Dremel maintaining 40% power, wax is applied to the entire pipe.  The first coat applies the wax thoroughly over the surfaces.  Following this, the pipe is buffed up using the Dremel to make sure all the wax is dispersed and absorbed.  Finally, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further.I’m pleased with how this product of Jacques Craen in St. Claude has turned out.  With Sebastien Beaud’s generous assistance, we can date this pipe after Jacques received the P. Viou name from the aging Paul Viou and his wife, Odette, who provided pipes to French military servicemen.  This ‘Plume’ is a beautiful example of French pipe making with its subtle intricacies, flow, and lines.  The grain, especially the exceptionally tight Bird’s Eye, is pleasing to behold! The horn stem with its gentle natural bend, has unique coloring.  The glassy shine of finely polished horn is pleasing to the eye and its rustic character will make it a pleasure to enjoy tobacco fellowship.  Last but not least, the unique Plume or Feather diminutive shape allows it to cradle very nicely in the palm.  This is the second of Daniel’s commissioned pipes and he will have the first opportunity to claim the P. Viou Feather from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Bringing a Savinelli Estella Non Pareil  9128 Billiard Back to Life


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my work table is a Savinelli made Estella that my brother purchased 2 years ago at an antique shop in Pocatello, Idaho, USA. It is stamped on the heel of the bowl on a smooth patch – Estella over Non Pareil over 9128 with the Savinelli S shield next to that and Italy to the left of that very faintly stamped. There was also an upper case E on the top of the stem. The rugged rustication on the bowl and shank looked to be dirty or at least had darkening where the hand of the previous owner had wrapped around the bowl. The thick cake in the bowl had overflowed on to the rim top and left behind a thick black mess. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the bowl looked like because of the thickness of the cake and lava. The outer edge of the bowl looked very good. The Lucite shank extension and the matching Lucite stem in grey, brown and ivory tones looked really good – from the side view. The stem had light tooth chatter on both the top and underside near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The close up photos of the rim top and bowl show the condition of the pipe. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the thick lava on the rim top. The stem is in decent condition with light tooth marks and chatter on both sides and the button surface. The next photo shows the stamping on the bottom of the bowl and the shank extension. Other than the S shield logo pointing to a link between Estella and Savinelli the stamping on the Lucite shank extension certified the connection.  There was also an uppercase E on the top of the stem. My brother did his usual thorough clean up on the pipe. He reamed the bowl and scrubbed the externals with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a soft tooth brush. He was able to remove all of the buildup on the rim top. It looked better but there was some burn damage on the inner edge of the rim all the way around the bowl as well as some darkening on the top of the rim. He cleaned the internals of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. He wiped down the stem so that when the pipe came to me it was ready to restore. The next four photos show the pipe when I brought it to my work table. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the damage on the inner edge of the bowl and the rim top. I took close up photos of the stem. It was in decent condition with light marks on both sides.   I took a photo of the stamping on the heel of the bowl and the underside of the shank extension. They were readable as noted above.I removed the stem from the pipe and took a photo of the parts to show the overall look of the pipe before I started my work on it.I started my work on the bowl by addressing the issues with the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I reshaped the inner edge and cleaned up the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to minimize the damage to the edge by giving it a slight bevel and the top by smoothing it out and removing the burn marks.   Once the top and edge were clean I polished them with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad to remove the debris. By the last sanding pad the rim top looked very good.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to get into the rusticated grooves and channels. The product works well to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.  I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on both sides with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. You will note some darkening on the tenon end that would not come off with scrubbing and sanding would reduce the diameter of the tenon and affect the fit in the shank. I touched up the stamp on the top of the stem with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I rubbed it on the stem surface and worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick. I buffed it off with a cotton pad. It looked better when it was finished.    I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each set of three pads I wiped the stem down with the damp cotton pad to check the progress. I had been able to blend in the tooth marks on both sides.  This Savinelli Estella Non Pareil Rusticated 9128 Billiard with a variegated brown, grey and ivory Lucite stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. There is some great grain on the rim top that really shines and the Caminetto Style rustication is exceptionally well done. I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel to see if I could further smooth and blend the repairs. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad and then once again by hand with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The bowl and rim look really good and the finish is clean and as good as new. The stem and shank extension have a rich glow and they look amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 51gr/1.80oz. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restemming and Restoring a No Name Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I received another call from a customer sent to me by the local pipe shop. The fellow had a pipe that needed to be restemmed. He said he would stop by and drop the pipe off for me to work on. Irene and I were out and about so he left it in the mail box. When Irene brought it down to me in the shop the smell was overwhelmingly strong and filled the room with the overly sweet smell of years of aromatic vanilla smelling tobaccos. It was in a plastic bag and once I opened the bag it was even more pungent. The bowl was filled with a thick cake that took over half the diameter of the bowl. There was tobacco debris stuck on the walls of the bowl. The cake was sticky and tacky with the tars and oils. The exterior of the pipe was cake with sticky substances around all the sides and on the rim top. The rim top had been beat up and was in rough condition with a thick buildup of lava on the top. The finish was in rough condition with a lot of nicks and gouges around the sides of the bowl and shank. It was really a mess. The stem was chewed and split in half at the button forward for about an inch up the stem. Once I removed it the inside of the shank was as smelly as the rest of the pipe. I took photos of the pipe before I began my clean up. I took a photo of the rim top to show condition of the bowl. You can see the damage to the top and the inner and outer edge. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the thick lava coat on the heavily damaged rim top. It is a very dirty pipe. I also took photos of the stem to show its condition. It has tooth marks and cracks on the top and underside of the stem near the button.  You can also see that the stem does not fit tightly against the shank but has gaps on both sides. I took the pipe apart and took photos of the pipe as a whole. It is in rough condition and I think that the stem was a replacement at some point in its life.The pipe stunk so bad and filled the room with the odor to the degree that I decided to clean the bowl before restemming the pipe. I reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer using three of the four cutting heads. I removed the cake back to bare walls so I could check for damage to the inside of the bowl from heat or otherwise. I scraped the remainder of the cake from the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and scraped the rim top at the same time. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I worked to get the thick grime off the outside of the bowl and shank. I rinsed it with running water and rinsed off the soap and grime. I cleaned out the shank and the airway into the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol to remove the tars and buildup in the shank. I wanted the shank clean before I fit a new stem.I built up the inside edge of the bowl and the damage to the rim top with super glue and briar dust. I layered the mixture on the rim and rebuilt the inner edge. Once I had it built up I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. Once I topped it smooth I stained the rim top with a Maple Stain Pen. I found a stem that was the same diameter as the ruined stem. I turned it on the PIMO tenon turning tool and my hand drill. I took the excess material off the diameter and the length of the stem to get a snug fit in the shank. I took photos of the fit of the stem to the shank. The fit of the stem to the shank end was the same as the previous one.There was a gap on both sides and it sat firm against the top and bottom. I examined the shank end and saw that it had been damaged and was no longer flat. I decided to square it up with a thin brass band as it would give a flat surface for the stem to face against. I glued and pressed it onto the shank end and set it aside to cure.   I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take down the excess diameter of the stem and sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had the fit correct I put the stem in place on the pipe and took photos of the fit and look at this point in the process.    I filled in the nicks and chips in the finish with briar dust and clear super glue. Once it had cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol to remove the finish and the dust on the briar.  I restained the bowl and shank with a light brown aniline stain. I flamed it with a lighter and repeated the process several times until I had the coverage that I was looking for.Once the stain had cured I took the pipe off the cork and took photos of the stained look of the bowl and shank with the brass band.   I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol to make the stain more transparent. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down between pads with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.    I sanded out the scratch marks on stem from the Dremel with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further the stem. The photo below shows the polished stem.  This pipe has come a long way from where it was when I received it to restem. It is not flawless but it looks better. The Vancouver piper who it belongs to has received far more that what he originally wanted – just a new stem. The briar around the bowl is clean and looks better. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The rim top while not perfect is far better. I put the newly fitted vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inch, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The pipeman will be picking it up soon and will be reintroduced to this pipe. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

New Life for an English Made Titan Patent Metal Pipe and Briar Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction in 2018 in Nampa, Idaho, USA. It is an interesting looking Metal Pipe that is made of Stainless steel rather than aluminum. The stem is removable from the base and the bowl is removable from the cup as well. The bowl has a rich reddish brown colour combination that highlights grain. The pipe was in surprisingly good condition other than the normal wear and tear. There was some grime ground into the surface of the briar. This pipe is stamped on the underside of the base – the cup and the shank. On the cup it reads Made in England in a circle around a flat portion of the cup. On the shank it is stamped TITAN Pats. Pend. There is a moderate cake in the bowl as well as tobacco debris. There was a thick coat of lava on the rim top making it impossible to adequately assess the condition of the rim top and the inner edge of the bowl. The outer edge looked very good. The stem was oxidized, calcified and dirty with light tooth chatter and marks on the stem surface. The pipe looks to be in good condition other than being dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. He took a photo of the rim top to show condition of the bowl. The inner edge of the bowl appears to have some damage on both the front and rim of the bowl. It is hard to know what the rim top will look like under the lava coat. He also captured the condition of the stem. It is oxidized, calcified and has light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button.  Jeff took the bowl off the base and  took photos to show how it was connected. It is different from the way that many of the briar bowl are connected to the base. This bowl has a nut inside the hole that is threaded and turns onto the threaded screw in the base. There is also a piece of the metal threading that goes across the top of the nut to keep tobacco from falling into the base. It was very dirty but it obviously was a great smoking pipe.   He took a photo of the stamping on the heel of the base and the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.    I turned first to a site I always turn to for metal pipe with briar bowls or alternative bowls. It is a site in the UK called Smokingmetal (http://www.smokingmetal.co.uk/pipe.php?page=1410). They had the pipe listed and I include both the description given as well as some photos that were included on the site.

TITAN

Titan, made in England is unusual in that the screw is part of the cup and the bowl has a threaded insert ‘nut’.

The stem is of stainless steel, and cleaning by immersing in boiling water is recommended for the metal stem only

Strangely there are two identical pipes, one stamped TITAN PATS PEND under the shank, near the mouth piece, and another with CITY PATS PEND. This of course calls for more investigation.

The bit comes in 3 styles, straight, curved and dental, an easy push fit to enable easy interchangeability. There were 6 shapes of bowl (in image below from left to right) which they called

Billiard which confusingly equates to the Falcon Dublin)

Bullcap (Falcon- Genoa)

Dublin equates to Falcon Algiers

Devon (nearest in Falcon would be the Dublin) not shown here

Pot which I find it hard to differentiate from their Dublin

Apple seems the same in both ranges

Also found a meerschaum lined bowl

All six shapes were available in smooth or rustic and cost at the time of my brochure 16 shillings,(which means it had to be before 1971) or 80 p ( $1.40) in today’s cash. The complete pipe was £2 ($3.70)

Not yet established the cost of the case set of pipe and three bowls. I looked up the Titan brand on Pipedia to see if I could find any information and there was nothing there. I turned to Pipephil’s site and surprisingly I found the information included below in the screen capture (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-t6.html). It also included the information that follows in the sidebar: The Titan pipes came with 6 shapes of interchangeable bowls available in smooth or rustic finish each.

It was time to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. I took photos of the rim top and stem to show the condition. The rim top and edges showed obvious issues. There were burn marks on the flat rim top and the inner edge had damage all the way around and was out of round. There was one small burn spot on the front outer edge as well. The vulcanite taper stem had light oxidation remaining and light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges.   The stamping on the heel and the underside of the shank is clear and readable as noted above. I removed the bowl from the base and the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is an interesting metal pipe and should clean up very well.       I started my work on the pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top. I topped I on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I removed the damage to the rim top and on the outer edge. I was able to minimize the damage on the inner edge some but would need to work on it some more. I gave the inner edge a slight bevel with a piece of folded 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove and minimize the damage to the inner and outer edge of the rim.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down between pads with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.     I polished the stainless base and shank with micromesh pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a jeweler’s cloth afterwards.   I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further the stem. The photo below shows the polished stem.     This interesting metal pipe stamped Titan Patd. Pend. with a short Dublin bowl is a beauty. The stainless steel base and vulcanite taper stem add to the mixture and contribute to a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar around the bowl is clean and really came alive. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Titan Patd. Pend. pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 30grams/1.06oz. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Breathing Life into a Leonard Payne Classic Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is one that came to us from one of our pipe hunts – maybe one of them in Alberta. It is another Leonard Payne pipe that is very interesting. The pipe is a classic ¼ bent Bulldog. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Leonard Payne in an underscored signature style [over] Classic. On the right side it is stamped Made in Canada. There was a stamped P on the left side of the taper stem. This is a unique Leonard Payne pipe in that the shank has not been snapped and reconnected as was the usual practice that he claimed strengthened the pipe at its weakest point. The bowl has a thick cake that overflows onto the rim top as lava. There are some nicks and scratches on the top and edges. The bowl is slightly out of round from damage on the inner edge.  The outer edges have a few nicks around the right side. The exterior was very dirty with grime and debris ground into the finish on the bowl. The taper vulcanite stem is oxidized, calcified, scratched and has tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. I took some photos of the pipe before I did any clean up.  I took photos of the rim top and the stem. The photo of the rim top shows the damage and the cake in the bowl and lava on the top. The stem photos show the oxidation, calcification and tooth chatter and deep marks. I took photos of the stamping on the right and left side of the shank. The stamping on the left side is the Leonard Payne signature over Classic. The stamping on the left side reads Made in Canada.   I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts to give an idea of the flow and form of the pipe. It is a nice looking Bulldog.I reread several of the blog I have written on the brand in the past restorations of Payne pipes and decided to include the material on the brand before I write about the cleanup of the pipe. I am including advertisement for Leonard Payne’s pipes. Here is the link to the blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/11/16/a-pipe-maker-i-had-never-heard-of-leonard-payne-pipes/).

Further digging with Google came up with this short note from alt.smokers.pipes forum. It was written by Mike Glukler of Briar Blues. I quote it below in full. (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.smokers.pipes/RrICLiVgE2o)   “Leonard Payne was based in B.C. for many years. He came to Canada from England. He had shops in Surrey, B.C. and Kelowna, B.C. Interesting fellow. Gruff as the day is long. When you bought a pipe it was handed to you in a paper bag. No sock, no box. Most of his pipes carried a “carburetor” system at the shank / stem junction. Another Payne idea was his shanks. Almost all his pipes were two pieces. He’d turn the bowl and shank, then cut off the shank and reattach with glue (not always with the same piece of briar, so many did not match grains). His thinking was that the shank being the weakest link, if cut and glued would never break and thus “correcting” the weakest link. You may find his pipes on E-Bay on occasion listed as a Len Cayne. The P in his stamping looks more like a fancy upper case C.”

The pipe I am working on now is more of a classic looking bent Bulldog and does not have the characteristic quirks of other Payne pipes that I have worked on.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. I reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the remnants of the cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the bowl with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. I scraped off the rim top with a pen knife to remove the lava top coat on the rim. The rim looked better with the lava removed. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed it off with running water to remove the soap and the grime. The pipe looked better and the grain stood out nicely.  With the externals cleaned I moved onto the shank. I scraped it with a dental spatula and removed the buildup of tars and oils on the internal walls. I scrubbed the internals of the shank and mortise, the vulcanite stem and the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I worked on them until they were clean.    I worked on the damaged rim top and damage to the edges. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I reworked the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.     I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bark on the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. Before I went to lunch I dropped the stem in a bath of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. It would soak for the afternoon and in later I would see what it did.  I took it out of the bath and scrubbed it off with a paper towel and was able to remove the oxidation and calcification. The stem looked amazingly better at this point in the process. There were deep tooth marks in the stem surface on both sides. I “painted” the tooth marks and chatter with the flame of a lighter to lift them. I was able to lift most of them. Even the deeper marks came up significantly. I filled in the remaining marks with black superglue and set it aside to cure.   Once the repairs cured I smoothed them out with a file. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend them into the surface of the vulcanite. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This Leonard Payne Classic Bent Bulldog is a great looking pipe that is void of the Payne innovations. The smooth finish on the pipe looks good and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Canadian Made Leonard Payne Classic is a great looking pipe that looks almost new. The flow of the grain around the bowl and the shape contribute to the beauty of this pipe. It fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 38grams/1.38oz. This one will soon be on the rebornpipes online store. If you are interested in carrying on the legacy of this Canadian Made pipe let me know. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This was an interesting pipe to bring back to life.