Tag Archives: Wally Frank Ltd. Pipes

Breathing New Life into a Wally Frank Wine Root Bruyere De Luxe Selected Grain Squat Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased on 05/08/19 from an online auction in Cedar Springs, Michigan, USA. Jeff picked it up because we both like Cumberland stems and this little Bulldog had that and some great grain. The pipe is stamped Wine Root [over] Bruyere on the top left side of the shank and  Wally Frank  [over] Limited on the bottom left side. On the top right side it read De Luxe [over] Selected Grain and on the bottom right side it was stamped ITALY. The bowl was heavily caked with a heavy overflow of lava on the beveled rim top. There was some darkening on the outer edge of the rim down the side of the cap toward the back of the bowl. The finish was dirty and oily from the heavy use it had seen. It had a Cumberland push stem and an interesting/odd stinger apparatus in the tenon. The stem was oxidized to the point that the Cumberland was almost hidden. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. The a photo of the rim top show the thick lava coat that flows out of the bowl and over the edge of the bowl. It is hard to know what the edges of the bowl – inner and outer – look like because of the lava and cake. The photos of the stem show the heavy oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides. Jeff took a photo of the stinger apparatus that shows how packed full of debris and tars that the fins around the stinger really are.The next three photos show the grain around the sides of the bowl and heel as well as the placement of the fills on the sides of the bowl. It is a pretty neat looking pipe. The next photo shows the stamping on the top left side of the shank. It was clear and readable. Jeff did not take photos of the other sides of the shank.I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Frank) to refresh my sense of the history of the brand. I quote below the history that is noted there.

Wally Frank, Ltd. was one of America’s oldest and most respected names in pipes and tobaccos, beginning in the early 1930’s. Wally Frank operated a chain of tobacco stores in New York City (the flagship store was in Lexington Avenue) and had a vast catalog business for pipes and pipe tobaccos. Their numerous private-label pipes were made by many makers, including Charatan, Sasieni, Weber, and many others. Wally Frank, Ltd. also owned the Pioneer brand of meerschaum pipes, made from both Turkish and African meerschaum. In addition to importing pipes, he had many pipes made in his own name and also employed pipemakers like Peter Stokkebye, Svend Bang, and Ed Burak (who later became the owner of Connoisseur). As a result, each Wally Frank pipe must be individually evaluated on its own merit.

Members of Wally Frank’s “The Pipe of the Month Club” received a new pipe in the mail once a month.

In 1952, Wally Frank was on a buying trip in Italy and “discovered” pipe maker Carlo Scotti. Frank liked Scotti’s pipes, but there was the small problem of Scotti’s pipes bearing the same trademark or logo as one of Wally Frank’s pipe lines, the White Bar. The two men decided on creating a new logo for pipes sold in the U.S.: a hole drilled in the stem and with a piece of silver foil inserted in the hole and covered with clear Lucite.

There was no specific information on the line I was working on but the history of the brand was good to be reminded of. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

It may seem that I praise Jeff’s work in cleaning up the pipes I work on a lot! I know I do but he is an indispensable part of the restoration work for me. He has developed a system of cleaning that is quite remarkable and leaves the pipes very clean. It saves me a lot of time so I have no issues saying that! Jeff did a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the Deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better when it arrived.    I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up but also to show the damage. The rim top photo looks good but there are some nicks and damage on the top and the beveled inner rim edge. The outer edge is also nicked. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and chatter on the surface near the button on both sides. The next series of photos show the stamping on the shank sides. The stamping is clear and readable as noted above.I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has some great grain on the side of the bowl. The stinger is very unique and is stained red from the stain on the bowl that has permeated the aluminum.I decided to address the rim top damage first. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to the beveled inner edge to minimize the damage to the rim. I think that it is definitely better once I finished. I would polish the flat top of the rim with micromesh and try to minimize the scratching there. The angle of the stem makes topping the bowl seem impractical.   I polished the briar rim top and edges along with the rest of the briar with micromesh sanding pads –dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and using a damp cloth after each pad. 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. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and was able to remove them from the surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped it down with some Obsidian Oil.I decided to try and clean up the stinger next. I used a brass bristle brush to try to clean off the stain on the aluminum. It did very little so I put it in a small alcohol bath for about an hour to see if it works. I worked on it with a cotton pads and alcohol to remove more of the stain. It did not do too much. I then scrubbed the stinger with acetone and removed some more. It did not remove any more so there is a pink tinge that remove. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Afterwards I rubbed it down with another coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry. I am excited to finish restoration of this Wally Frank Wine Root Bruyere De Luxe Selected Grain Squat Bulldog. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the polished Cumberland saddle stem. This squat Wally Frank Wine Root Bruyere Bulldog feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 31 grams/ 1.09 oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the American Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Restoring a Wally Frank Pipe of the Month Drunken Poker


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff and I cannot remember where we picked up the next pipe and have no idea where we found it or what the condition was when we found it. I know that Jeff cleaned it before it ended up here but we cannot put a finger on the pre-cleanup photos or even where we got it. So I decided to just write about it as it looks today before I start the cleanup work and describe the work that I did on the pipe. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Pipe of the Month in script. On the underside of the shank it reads Imported Briar while on the right it reads Wally Frank LTD. The pipe is uniquely shaped and I was tempted to call it a drunken poker (in fact I did in the title of the blog). It must have been a good smoking pipe from the condition of the cleaned bowl. The rim top and edges of the bowl are all damaged. It looked like the pipe had been knocked out on hard surfaces and reamed with a knife. The stem was in good condition once I received it with light tooth marks and chatter on both sides. The majority of my work would be done in reshaping and reworking the rim top.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He 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 before I started my work.  The rim top and edges of the rim looked rough with damage all around. The outer edge was rough and the inner edge was notched with what looked like knife marks. The rim top was also nicked and dented. The stem surface looked very good with some remaining oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.  I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The bowl has a definitely tilt to it and the heel is rounded. The saddle stem is tapered with a slight bend that follows the flow of the pipe. I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-w1.html) and looked up the section on Wally Frank Pipes. I have included a screen capture of the section on The Pipe of the Month.Each member of Wally Frank’s “The Pipe of the Month Club” received a brand new pipe in the mail once a month.

There was also a link to the Pipe of the Month Order form that was on the site. I have included that below for your viewing.Now it was time to work on the pipe. To take care of the significant damage to the rim top and edges I started my work by gently topping the bowl to minimize the damaged areas. I gave the inner edge of the bowl a bevel to reduce the burned areas. I also sanded the outer edge and smoothed out the damage. I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove the spotty varnish coat and to get the bowl free of the shininess so I could blend in the rim top more carefully. There was some nice looking grain under the varnish. Removing varnish always gives me pause because it can often reveal things I would have rather left hidden. However in this case it was not true. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. The bowl really began to take on a shine. The rim top was slightly lighter than the rest of the bowl so I touched it up with an Oak stain pen to match the rest of the pipe.With the rim cleaned up the bowl was in good condition. I rubbed it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips. The product works 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.  I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the stem with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks. The majority of them disappeared with the heat of the flame. Those that remained I filled in with clear super glue. Once the repairs had cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  Before I put the stem back on the shank I checked out the shank end and the edges. I was surprised when I saw a small crack on the top of the shank toward the right that was obviously there before but only now after polishing could I see it. I circled the cracked area in red in the two photos below. I glued the crack with a dribble of super glue and then pressed a thin brass band on the shank end. I really like these thin bands as they do not cover the stamping on the shank – which in this case was on three sides. I like the finished look of the pipe with the band.This Wally Frank Pipe of the Month Drunken Poker with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The smooth finish and unique grain look and feel great in the hand and should only feel better as the pipe is smoked. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to give a shine. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Drunken Poker 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 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 25gr/.88oz. 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!

A New Beginning For An Inherited Wally Frank “Blackthorne” #75 Sandblast Billiard


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I love my classic shaped pipes and one such pipe from my inheritance is now on my work table. It’s a classic saddle stem Billiard with a deep scraggy sandblasted stummel. The moment I picked it up, I thought this could be a Barling’s “Fossil” or some English brand. However, when I saw the stampings, it was not English but a US brand. The sandblast, quality of the stem and the briar all oozed quality.

The pipe is a classic Billiard shaped sitter with deep craggy sandblast that feels tactile in the hand. It’s medium sized with a very light weight. This pipe is stamped on the bottom smooth surface of the shank with shape code # 75 at the foot followed by “WALLY FRANK LTD” over “BLACKTHORNE” in block capital letters. The stampings appear faint due to accumulation of dirt and grime over the surface. The high quality vulcanite saddle stem is sans any stampings.    I had read about Wally Frank while researching a Wally Frank era Custombilt sitter pipe about 2 years back and had a faint recollection of Wally Frank being an old Tobacconist from around New York City in US who also sold English made pipes under his name. To chronicle specific and detailed information about the brand, I first turned to Reborn pipes, which happens to be my first go to site whenever I need information on any pipe maker or brand. Sure enough, there was detailed information on the brand and a shape chart to boot!! Here is the link to the write up…. https://rebornpipes.com/2019/07/27/i-just-had-to-work-on-this-one-next-a-wally-frank-ltd-liverpool/

I visited pipedia.org to get the shape chart, pictures and other relevant information pertaining to the pipe on my work table.

Wally Frank, Ltd. was one of America’s oldest and most respected names in pipes and tobaccos, beginning in the early 1930’s. Wally Frank operated a chain of tobacco stores in New York City (the flagship store was in Lexington Avenue) and had a vast catalog business for pipes and pipe tobaccos. Their numerous private-label pipes were made by many makers, including Charatan, Sasieni, Weber, and many others. Wally Frank, Ltd. also owned the Pioneer brand of meerschaum pipes, made from both Turkish and African meerschaum. In addition to importing pipes, he had many pipes made in his own name and also employed pipemakers like Peter Stokkebye, Svend Bang, and Ed Burak (who later became the owner of Connoisseur). As a result, each Wally Frank pipe must be individually evaluated on its own merit.

Here are two sample pictures of BLACKTHORNE pipes from Wally Frank that I got from pipedia.org which were uploaded by Doug Valitchka.   Also shown below is the shape chart that Steve had referred to in his above write up. I have marked the pipe on my work table in red on this chart. The shape chart is from the 1943 catalogue! The shape code # 75 as described in the chart is MILITARY “SADDLE BIT” which corresponds to my pipe. With the provenance of the pipe now established and I move ahead with my initial visual inspection.

Initial Visual Inspection
The deeply sandblasted saddle stem sitter is covered in dirt, dust and grime. There is a decent layer of cake in the chamber and the flow of air through the mortise is not very smooth and full. The saddle stem is heavily oxidized and the bite zone is peppered with deep bite marks and minor tooth chatter on both the surfaces. Here is how the pipe appears as it sits on my work table. Detailed Inspection Of The Pipe And Observations
The bowl is nicely rounded and wide at the rim with a depth of about 2 inches. The chamber has an even layer of medium cake. The sandblasted rim top surface is covered in lava overflow and dirt and grime from previous usage and subsequent storage. The inner and outer rim is in pristine condition. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The chamber has very strong smells from the old tobaccos. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber and that makes me believe that it should smoke smooth. The stummel all around appears solid to the touch and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. I may have to resort to the salt and alcohol treatment of the chamber if the ghost smells are not reduced after the cake has been removed and the shank internals are thoroughly cleaned. As is commonly seen on rusticated or sandblasted pipes with some serious age on them, the crevices in such sandblasted surfaces are always filled with dust, dirt, oils, tars and grime from all the years of smoking and storage. This one is no exception to this observation. The grooves of the deep craggy sandblast are filled with dust while the smooth bottom shank which bears the stamping is covered in dust and grime. The fact that the grooved patterns are dusty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to the brown and black hues on the stummel and the shank. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry and has taken on dirty grey hues. I need to be careful while cleaning the shank bottom surface to preserve the stampings on this pipe. Thorough cleaning and rising under warm water of the stummel surface should highlight the grain patterns, depth and cragginess of the sandblast. The mortise shows accumulation of oils, tars and gunk and the air flow is not full and smooth.    The high quality straight vulcanite saddle stem is so heavily oxidized that it appears brownish green in color! Some minor tooth chatter and deep bite marks are seen on both surfaces of the stem. This issue should not be a major headache to address. The lip edge on both sides has bite marks and would need to be reconstructed and reshaped. The tenon has accumulated ash and oils/ tars that have dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has calcium deposits which will have to be cleaned. The tooth chatter and the bite marks will be raised to the surface by heating and the deeper tooth indentations will be filled using charcoal and CA superglue mix.      THE PROCESS
I started the restoration of this pipe by first cleaning the internals of the stem with bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I scraped out the dried oils and tars from the tenon end with my fabricated knife and also removed the calcified deposits from the slot end. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the surface oxidation. It has been our (Abha, my wife and self) experience that sanding a stem before dunking it in to the deoxidizer solution helps in bringing the deep seated oxidation to the surface which in turn make further cleaning a breeze with fantastic result.I dropped the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface, making its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding helps to draw out the complete oxidation as the sanding opens up the stem surface that has been initially covered with oxidation. I usually dunk stems of 4-5 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in green arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight to do its work. While the stem was soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 1, 2 and 3 Castleford reamer heads. I further scraped the chamber walls with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposits. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smoothen out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are sans any damage, though a single minor superficial vertical heat line to the front and back of the stummel is seen. I may resort to coating the bowl with a mix of charcoal and yogurt to further protect the walls. The smells from the chamber are still very strong. I will have to resort to salt and alcohol treatment to get rid of the ghost smells.   This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my fabricated knife to remove the dried oils and tars. The heap of gunk scraped out and the number of pipe cleaners and q-tips tell the sordid saga of the condition of the shank internals. Though this further eliminated trace of old smells from previous usage, however, I must admit that I was still not very happy with the internal cleaning of the stummel and shank. The old smell was still very prevalent and called for more invasive methods to completely eliminate it.     To completely eliminate the smell, I decided to resort to salt and alcohol bath. I packed the chamber, just below the rim, with cotton balls. I stretched a cotton ball into a thick wick, tapering at one end and wound it around a folded pipe cleaner. I inserted it in to the shank and pushed it as far inside as I could so that the tip of the pipe cleaner came out through the draught hole and in to the chamber. I topped the bowl with isopropyl alcohol using an ink dropper. I know that it is generally a practice to use Kosher salt for this procedure, but since Kosher salt is not easily available here, and when available, it’s very expensive, I use cotton balls. I find that cotton balls work just fine in drawing out all the tars and smells from the mortise and the bowl. I topped the bowl with alcohol again after 20 minutes when the alcohol level had gone down and set it aside overnight for the soak to do its intended job. The next day, the cotton and alcohol had turned a dirty brown. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. I set the stummel aside to dry out all the alcohol from the walls of the chamber. The internals of the stummel is now clean and fresh. While the chamber was soaking overnight in the salt and alcohol bath, the next morning, Abha removed the stems that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem and the stem airway under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Scotch Brite pad and the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem. This now gives a clearer picture of the extent of depth of the bite marks as can be seen in the pictures below. These will definitely require a fill. The oxidation is deep and stubborn and can be seen over the stem surface as dirty green coloration. I need to further sand the stem to completely remove the oxidation.I used a 220 grit sand paper to sand the stem and remove all the oxidation that was raised to the surface. This step further reduced the tooth chatter and bite marks present on the stem. I wiped the stem with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. This helps in cleaning the stem surface while removing the loosened oxidation. Using a lighter, I flamed the surface of the stem. This helped in raising some of the tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface as vulcanite has a property to regain its original shape on heating. The remaining tooth chatter and bite marks would be addressed subsequently.I addressed the deeper tooth chatter and bite marks by filling them up with a mix of activated charcoal and CA superglue. I applied a slightly thick layer over the lip which I will later sand down to create a defined edge. Once I had applied the mix, I set it aside to cure overnight. Once the fill has hardened, I shall file and sand the fills to match the surface of the stem and sharpen the button edges on either surface.   With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I generously applied “Briar Cleaner”, a product that has been developed by my friend Mark Hoover, to the external surface of the bowl and the sandblasted rim top surface. It works similar to Murphy’s oil soap and needs to be applied to the stummel surface and set aside for 5- 10 minutes. The product pulls out all the dirt and grime to the surface making further cleaning easy. I am quite happy with this product. I used a hard bristled tooth brush to scrub the stummel and rim top with the solution. After the scrub with Briar cleaner solution, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I deliberately cleaned the sandblasted rim top with hard bristled toothbrush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the intricate sandblast patterns on full display. The brown hues of the raised portions of the sandblast contrast beautifully with the black of the rest of the stummel. These brown hues will darken considerably once the stummel briar is rehydrated and rejuvenated using the balm and subsequent wax polishing.  Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips, working it deep in to the sandblasts and let it rest for a few minutes. I generously rubbed the balm in to the sandblasted rim top surface. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful sandblast patterns displayed in their complete splendor. The contrast of the dark browns of the raised sandblast with the dark black of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel which may be insufficiently described in words and be rather seen in person. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush.  With the stummel rejuvenation almost complete, save for the final wax polish, I worked the stem. The fill had cured and with a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. For a better blending, I further sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the scratch marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below. To complete the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further and remove any residual wax from in between the sandblasts. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. I only wish it could share with me its life story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend or maybe just keep admiring it!! The finished pipe is as shown below.

 

I just had to work on this one next – A Wally Frank Ltd. Liverpool


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is the second pipe that I found on my recent Bellingham pipe hunt this week. I had a some fun cleaning up the Custombilt Figural carved by Hetzer Hartsock (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/07/25/new-life-for-a-rich-era-custombilt-carved-figural-billiard/) so I figured I might as well clean up the Wally Frank Ltd. Liverpool as well. It is a great looking pipe with some beautiful grain – birdseye, straight and flame grain around the bowl and shank. The pipe was filthy with overflowing lava but the grain peaked out under the grime. The carver did a great job utilizing the block of briar to maximize the grain. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank. It reads Wally Frank over Ltd. The tapered stem is vulcanite and has no marking or stamping. Some would probably call it a long shank Billiard but it really suits the Liverpool Designation – longer shank and a short tapered stem. The bowl has a thin cake inside but the tars cover the crowned rim top. There some darkening on the rim top. The exterior of the briar was dirty and dull looking – lifeless after sitting unused for years. The oxidized vulcanite stem was surprisingly clear of chatter or tooth marks. When I removed the stem there was an interesting stinger apparatus pressure fit in the tenon. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. There was significant darkening on the rim top and a cake in the bowl flowing over as lava on the top edge. The inner and outer edges of the bowl appeared to be in good condition, but I would only be sure once I removed the lava. The stem was in decent condition under the thick oxidation on the surface. There was none of the usual tooth chatter and tooth marks on the stem.I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the stem and stinger apparatus in the tenon. It was pressure fit and firmly stuck in place by the tars and oils.I took a photo of left side of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photo below and is as noted above – Wally Frank over LTD. I remembered a a lot about the brand in that Iknew it was an old US pipe and tobacco store in and around New York City. I also knew that they did not make their own pipes but had others carve them from a variety of well known pipe making companies. I wanted to double check and seek more information on the brand before I went to work on this one. To me it certainly looked very British but other than that I had no idea.

I turned first to the Pipephil website (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-w1.html). There was some information on the various stampings and lines of the brand but not one of them matched this one. I did find out though that the… brand started in 1930. The pipes came from English, French, Danish, Italian and even US companies.

That was a good start but I turned to Pipedia for more information and found some helpful clues regarding the pipe (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Frank). I quote:

Wally Frank, Ltd. was one of America’s oldest and most respected names in pipes and tobaccos, beginning in the early 1930’s. Wally Frank operated a chain of tobacco stores in New York City (the flagship store was in Lexington Avenue) and had a vast catalog business for pipes and pipe tobaccos. Their numerous private-label pipes were made by many makers, including Charatan, Sasieni, Weber, and many others. Wally Frank, Ltd. also owned the Pioneer brand of meerschaum pipes, made from both Turkish and African meerschaum. In addition to importing pipes, he had many pipes made in his own name and also employed pipemakers like Peter Stokkebye, Svend Bang, and Ed Burak (who later became the owner of Connoisseur). As a result, each Wally Frank pipe must be individually evaluated on its own merit.

In 1952, Wally Frank was on a buying trip in Italy and “discovered” pipe maker Carlo Scotti. Frank liked Scotti’s pipes, but there was the small problem of Scotti’s pipes bearing the same trademark or logo as one of Wally Frank’s pipe lines, the White Bar. The two men decided on creating a new logo for pipes sold in the U.S.: a hole drilled in the stem and with a piece of silver foil inserted in the hole and covered with clear Lucite.

Wally Frank (the person) wrote the forward to Georges Herment’s 1954 book “The Pipe.”

There was also a great pipe shape chart on the site that I thought was helpful (https://pipedia.org/images/d/d2/1943WallyFrankPipes.jpg). They labeled the pipe as a “Round Shank Canadian”. I have drawn a red box around it in the photo below. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe reamer to take the cake back to bare briar. The cake was thin but the lava over flow on the rim was heavy and dark. The rim top looked pitted and damaged. I sanded the internal walls of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. The filthy exterior of this pipe was perfect for me to continue experimenting with a new product from Mark Hoover of Before & After Products. This one is a product he labels briar cleaner and it has the capacity of absorbing grime and dirt from the surface of briar. I rubbed the bowl down with some of his Briar Cleaner to see how it would work in this setting. In speaking to Mark he noted that the product is completely safe to use. The main product is even FDA approved edible. I rubbed it onto the bowl and rim top with my finger tips and worked it into the grime and grit on the bowl. I let it sit on the pipe for about 5 minutes before I rubbed it off with a microfibre cloth. I rinsed it under warm running water to remove the residue. I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the surface on the bowl looked when I was finished. The mortise and the airway in the shank was filthy. There was a thick build up of tar and oils on the inside of the shank. I scraped the shank walls with a thin bladed knife until the briar was bare. I scrubbed the walls of the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol until they were clean. The inner edge of the rim still had a bit of darkening on the bevel so I carefully sanded it with a worn piece of folded 220 grit sandpaper to remove the darkening. I polished the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad to remove the sanding debris. My goal was to further remove the darkening on the both the rim top and the first half inch of the bowl. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar 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. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. Fortunately the stem was quite clean and other than oxidation there were no other issues. I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I cleaned the stinger with alcohol and a cotton pad and then scrubbed the grooves out with a brass bristle brush to remove the debris. Once I was finished I put it back in the stem. It is easily added and removed so the choice will belong to the next pipeman or woman who takes the pipe in trust.With both parts of the pipe finished I put the pipe back together again and I polished the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained Classic Liverpool. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This beautiful Wally Frank Ltd. Liverpool will soon be taking it place on the rebornpipes store. If you are interested in it be sure to let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

 

Craig’s Pipes #3 – Restemming and Restoring a Wally Frank Natural Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

In my previous 2 blogs on Craig’s pipes I spoke of the five pipes that I am working on for him. In this blog I am taking on the third of his pipes – a Wally Frank Natural Unvarnished Bulldog that came to me sans stem. It was by far the most used pipe he sent me with a cake in the bowl that was thick and hard. I am going to include what Craig wrote me about his pipes. I have included it in the previous two blogs but I think it adds context to the bunch.

I was recently given a bag of pipes…literally, a BAG of 20 or so pipes that are 50+yrs in age and VERY used. I was wondering if you would have time to either Skype or FaceTime with me, and go through what I have in order to determine which are worth sending to you to have them refurbished. If you would be so kind, I’d really appreciate it.

We met on FaceTime and walked through each of the pipes in his bag. He pulled out a grocery bag with no rhyme or reason to it. It was filled with a jumble of no name or low-end drug store pipes. The only pipes that stood out for me were an old WDC Campaign pipe and a Grabow Starfire. We excluded all but five of the pipes. The amount of work necessary to bring them back was not worth the price. These are the five that we chose to work on. As I finish them, I will include the link to the blog covering that pipe.

– A No Name Meerschaum that looked interesting – https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/31/is-it-a-meerschaum-looks-like-one-feels-like-one-but/
– A leather clad billiard marked R20 and bearing a shield – https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/01/rejuvenating-a-leather-clad-billiard/
– A Wally Frank Bulldog marked Natural Unvarnished lacking a stem
– A Dr. Grabow Starfire 39 that had great grain
– A WDC Campaign underslung pipe

After our conversation, he packed up the pipes and threw the rest of the pipes in a separate bag for me to scavenge parts. The box did not take too long to get to Vancouver and when it did I opened the box and had a look. Here are pics of what I saw – there were two bags inside. One bag held the discards for the scrap pile and the other held the five pipes he wanted restored. The third pipe was the stemless Bulldog on the lower right of the photo above. The briar was very dirty with lots of grime and some residue that had hardened on the surface of the bowl. The rim top was in good condition but I would not be sure until I was able to remove the lava overflow from the bowl over the bevel. The outer edges were undamaged all around the bowl and I was hoping the same was true of the inner edge. There was some darkening on the rim as well. The bowl had a thick cake in it and remnants of tobacco. On the front of the bowl on the cap there was some hardened sticky substance. The shank is stamped on the left side Natural over Unvarnished. On the right side it is stamped Wally Frank Ltd. On the underside of the left side it reads Imported Briar. There was no stem so I was going to need to fit one to the shank. I took the following photos of the pipe before I started cleaning it up. I went through my can of stems and found one that would work with the pipe. It was a diamond saddle stem. The saddle portion was slightly larger than the shank of the pipe but I could work that to make it fit well. The tenon would need to be turned with the PIMO tenon turning tool make it a snug fit in the shank.I drilled out the airway in the stem with a drill bit the same size as the post in the centre of the tenon turning tool. Once it was open I adjusted the cutting head on the tool to take the tenon down incrementally to the right dimension. I readjusted it and repeated the process until the fit was right. I sanded down the tenon lightly with 220 grit sandpaper to fine tune the fit and put it in the shank of the pipe. I took photos of the pipe at this point to show what needed to be done to adjust the fit. It needed some work. The bowl was also very caked and that needed to be reamed. I took the stem off and reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer. I started with the smallest cutting head and worked my way up to the one that was the same diameter as the bowl. I reamed it back to bare briar. I cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. With bowl reamed I turned to the rest of the internals. I used a dental spatula to scrape out the heavy tar buildup in the shank. There was a lot of mess there and it took a lot of scraping before I had it cleaned out. I cleaned the shank and mortise with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I scrubbed out the shank and mortise until the pipe cleaners and swabs came out clean.I sanded off the lava and darkening on the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove all of the buildup and damage on the rim.I sanded the saddle portion of the stem with a Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the sides to match the shank. I sand it on a slower speed and carefully work to keep it from hitting the shank of the pipe. I finish the fitting with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to sand it to match the shank. I sand the shank at the same time to make the transition smooth. The next set of four photos show the fit of the stem at this point in the process. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the wood. I worked the balm into the rim top and inner bevel of the rim to polish the cleaned up area. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The grain in the wood came alive and there was a rich shine to the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I polished the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with acetone to clean off the sanding dust. The photos show the progress of the polishing. I used a dark brown stain pen to blend the sanded shank end with the rest of the bowl. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads to blend it in and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks from the reshaping work. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish, using both Fine and Extra Fine polishes to polish out the remaining light scratches in the vulcanite. When I finished with the polish I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. With the stem replaced and polished I put it back on the pipe and buffed the entire pipe again with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I polished it with the polishing compound until it was shiny. I gave the entire pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The new stem and the bowl polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown with the original stem in the photos below. This is the third of Craig’s five pipes. Once I finish the other two pipes I will pack them up and get them out to him. I am looking forward to what he will think once he has them in hand. Thanks for walking through these restorations with me. I am thinking that the pipeman who gave Craig these pipes would be happy that they are back in service and that Craig is carrying on the pipeman’s trust with them. Cheers.

Restoring an old Wally Frank Ltd. Huntleigh Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

I gravitated toward restoring this old Pot shaped pipe next because it looked rough with a worn finish and what I thought was an oversized band on the shank. When I took it out of the box and looked at it more closely my first impression was that someone had banded it post manufacture. It covered the stamping on both sides of the shank so that on the left the HUNTLEIGH stamping only read HUNTLEI and the Wally Frank Ltd. on the right only read ally Frank Ltd. On the flat bottom of the shank it is stamped Imported Briar in a Germanic Script. You can imagine my surprise when I found that what had appeared as a band was not. It was metal mortise and cap fitting that held a threaded screw mount stem and tenon. The tenon had a stinger apparatus that extended into the shank. Now the mystery – I don’t know if this was how the pipe was shipped from Wally Frank or if it was a later addition to a favourite pipe. The saddle stem appears to be original and fits against the cap perfectly. It is the same diameter as the shank of the pipe.Wally1

Wally2 The finish on this old boy was very tired. The finish on the top half of the bowl was worn off while on the lower half it had an old varnish coat that was peeling away. The outer edge of the rim was not beat up or worn at all. The inner edge was slightly damaged and had nicks in that made the bowl out of round. The top of the rim was damaged with small pin prick holes that look like they came from knocking out the pipe on a rough surface. The end cap/mortise insert was polished aluminum and it was oxidized. The stem had a lot of tooth chatter on both sides from the button up the stem about an inch. The button itself had nicks in it and there was a small tooth mark on the top and bottom of the stem next to the button in virtually the same spot. The stinger was quite clean. The bowl had been reamed out recently.Wally3

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Wally7 I decided to start with cleaning up the finish on the bowl. The peeling varnish and overall worn and tired appearance bugged me so I started there. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove as much of the finish as possible.Wally8

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Wally10 I mentioned above the damage to the rim surface so I have included the first photo below to show a close up view of the damage. I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board and removed the damaged surface. I sanded until the rim was smooth and the pinpricks were gone.Wally11

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Wally13 With the rim clean and the finish partially removed I decided to drop the bowl in my alcohol bath and let it soak awhile. I figured the alcohol would loosen what remained of the finish and also lend a patina to the sanded rim and the bowl. When I removed it from the bath after an hour of soaking it looked pretty good – as long as it remained wet!Wally14

Wally15 Once I dried it off I could still see the line around the bowl where the finish had been and where it had worn off. This was a stubborn bowl. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I also repaired some of the fills that were pitted with super glue and briar dust. The next two photos show the bowl after I had sanded the finish off. It was finally getting to the point where I could start again with the finish. There were many imperfections and fills in the bowl and shank. This one was going to be a challenge. I knew I could not remove all of them but I wanted to give the old pipe a bit of dignity and take away the tired looking finish.Wally16

Wally17 While I reflected on what to do with the bowl I worked on the stem. I sanded the tooth chatter and tooth marks with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove all of the tooth marks and chatter. The stem would clean up nicely.Wally18

Wally19 I sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. The stem surface was free of marks now but still needed to be polished to bring back the shine to the vulcanite.Wally20

Wally21 I cleaned out the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. The dirty portion of the shank was the grime in the threads of the mortise. The airway ahead of the metal mortise was clean. It took a bit of scrubbing but I was able to clean out the grime. The internals of the shank were clean. I ran pipe cleaners through the stem and stinger. I was surprised that I could easily run a pipe cleaner from the slot to the bowl without major issues with the stinger. Once it was clean I threaded the stem on the shank to see what the pipe looked like so far. It had come a long way and had the potential to turn out to be a good looking pipe.Wally22 I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth and then worked it over with the micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-3200 grit pads this time and then dry sanded with 3600-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. I also used the later grit pads to polish the aluminum of the mortise insert. After sanding the stem with the 12,000 grit pad I rubbed it down a final time and let it soak in before taking it to the buffer.Wally23

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Wally25 I buffed the stem with White Diamond and a blue plastic polish bar that I picked up. It really gives the stem a deep shine.Wally26

Wally27 I stained the bowl with several coats of a cherry aniline stain and flamed it. In the photos below the pipe is shown after a light buffing with a soft cloth. (These photos were taken before I polished the stem.)Wally28

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Wally31 I sanded the bowl with the 6000-12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads and then buffed it with White Diamond. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff. The finished pipe is shown below. I have also included a photo of the reworked rim and the tenon and aluminum mortise just to show the finished pipe in all of its parts. It should make someone a good smoking pipe if the original condition was any sign of the smoke-ability of this pipe.Wally32

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