Tag Archives: WDC pipes

Cleaning up a gift WDC Marlborough Twin Bore Bent Briar


Blog by Steve Laug

One of the gifts I brought home from Pune, India and my visit with Paresh, Abha, Mudra and Pavni was one of his Grandfather’s unique pipes. It is an old timer that is very similar to a CPF Cromwell pipe that I restored previously. I referred to this very pipe in that blog. Here is the link to the blog on that pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/01/out-damn-spots-a-c-p-f-cromwell-double-vertical-stem-bent-billiard/). Paresh’s Grandfather was obviously gifted this old pipe. It did not appear to have been smoked very much (unlike the other pipes that Paresh received from him). Like the C.P.F. pipes from this time period this WDC Marlborough has some real charm. It is on the petite side of things – 4 ½ inches long and 1 3/4 inches tall. It is not a bad piece of briar, a mix of grains. The brass/silver collar on the shank is stamped with faux hallmarks and the WDC triangle logo. The stem is the unusual part of the mix. It has two brass plated spigot tenons that fit into openings in the shank collar. The twin stems merge into one single airway. Looking at it I could not wait to examine it and see the internals in the mortise and shank. The finish was worn but the pipe looked like it still had some life in it. The left side of the shank is stamped in worn gold leaf Marlborough in script. The right side of the shank is stamped in gold leaf with the WDC Triangle logo. The stem is also stamped on the left side with the WDC triangle and SOLID RUBBER on the right side. I took photos of the pipe from a variety of angles to show the uniqueness and the condition before I started my cleanup work. I took some close up photos of the bowl top to show what it looked like before I started the cleanup work on it. I also included some close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides. The finish looks very good with a little dust and debris on the briar.The stamping on the left side of the shank and stem is readable – Marlborough on the shank in gold leaf and WDC in a triangle on the stem. It is clear and readable. You can also see the hallmark and logo on the brass/silver band. The stamping on the right side of the shank and stem is also clear. The shank reads WDC in a triangle in gold leaf and the stem reads SOLID RUBBER. I took the stem out of the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. You can see the dual ports in the shank and the dual ports in the stem. I turned to the previous blog on the CPF pipe to refresh my memory of the information I had found at that point in the processs (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/01/out-damn-spots-a-c-p-f-cromwell-double-vertical-stem-bent-billiard/). I quote from that blog and also include a diagram that I did on the airflow of the pipe.

I did some digging online and found a WDC Marlborough that had a similar configuration though far more boxy. It did not have the elegance that the C.P.F. does in my opinion. Playing around with the mechanics of the smoke and how it flowed through the stem I examined the dual mortise and the way the stem was laid out. I fed a pipe cleaner through the stem and found that natural flow of the cleaner was from the button through the top of the stem and into the top mortise. I could plug the lower tenon and the air was unobstructed from tenon to button. When I plugged the upper tenon and blew air through it I could feel it against my fingertip and then it made its way out the lower tenon. The airflow seems to have flowed against my finger and back a short distance to an opening between the two stems and out. From that I figured out that the smoker draws smoke through the upper mortise and into the airway on the stem. It flows into the bottom stem and mortise (which is a sump like the Peterson System pipes have) where moisture is collected and the smoke exits up the lower stem and into the button and into the mouth of the smoker. In my online search I found a photo of the Marlborough with the airpath drawn out as I conceived it in my words above. I drew the same kind of pattern on the C.P.F. to show how it appeared from my experiments. I used the link on the previous blog to go back and read the online forum about the Marlborough pipe. Here is the link to the Marlborough (http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/wdc-marlborough-double-airway).Now that I had a bit of the back story on the pipe from Paresh’s Grandfather’s collection it was time to go to work on it. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down with a clean damp cloth after each pad. I brought back a package of Restoration Balm from Mark Hoover from Idaho. He included a sample of a new product that he was experimenting with called Briar Cleaner. It is to be used prior to scrubbing (possibly instead of scrubbing with Murphy’s Oil Soap) and to be followed up with the Balm. I decided to give it a try on the smooth finish of this pipe. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips and scrubbed it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a microfiber cloth to dry and shine it. The product seemed to work well to lift the dirt and grime from the finish. I am still not sure if it a necessary extra step for me but I am working with it on the next few pipes. The photos below show the pipe after cleaning with the product. I used some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to repair the gold fill in the stamping on both sides of the shank. I rubbed it on and pressed it into the stamping with a tooth pick. I buffed it off with a soft cotton pad and a microfiber cloth. The photos tell the story. I rubbed Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar and worked it in with my fingertips. I let the bowl sit while the Balm did its work on the briar. Once it had been sitting for a few moments I buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. The photos show the bowl after the Balm had worked. After cleaning the exterior of the briar with Mark’s new product it was time to clean the internals. I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. I was surprised to find that the pipe was pretty clean. I was also surprised to see some of the dark stain coming out of the shank. It appears that the pipe may have been dip stained. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I interrupted the polishing after the 4000 grit pad and used Rub’N Buff Antique Gold to touch up the WDC Triangle stamp on the left side fo the dual stem. I cleaned off the excess Rub’N Buff gold and then continued polishing with 6000-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I used some new product that Mark Hoover put together – Before & After Restoration Balm that was made to work on vulcanite. It did a good job of polishing the vulcanite. I finished by polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down a final time with Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.I put the stem back on the shank and buffed it lightly with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise a shine in the briar. The finish on the briar came alive with the buffing and took on a deep shine. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad and with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is an interesting little pipe measuring 4 1/2 inches in length, 1 3/4 inches in height. The outside diameter of the bowl is 1 1/4 inches and a chamber diameter of 3/4 of an inch. The unique design and the flow of air through the pipe make this a very interesting looking pipe. It is a beautiful, bent billiard with a double shank and stem. This pipe is staying with me as it is the background to the similar CPF Cromwell that I have in my personal collection. It is another beautiful old pipe that fits into my old US Made pipe collection. Thanks for reading the blog. Enjoy.

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A Unique Piece of Pipe History – A Beautiful WDC Calabash with Bling


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is an old timer that Jeff picked up somewhere in his journeys whether online in his pipe hunting is antique shops. This one an interesting older WDC Calabash with a brass shank cap and a rim top cap. The stem is Bakelite with an amber colour. It is stamped on the left side of the shank WDC in a triangle (William DeMuth & Company). It is a Calabash shaped pipe decorated with a brass rim top and cap as well as a brass ferrule. Both have a pattern of filigree and hearts. These older WDC and CPF Calabashes were decorative and had a real flourish that makes them readily identifiable. The finish is smooth and is in good condition despite the years. The brass rim top has some dings in it and there was some lava buildup on various spots. The inner edge of the brass cap was turned down into the inner edge of the bowl. It was dirty with lava and there was a thick cake in the bowl. The brass was tarnished but looked easy to clean up. The pipe was dusty but the finish looked like it was rich and would clean up well. The stem is an amber coloured Bakelite with a threaded tenon in the shank and the stem. The stem has tooth marks and chatter on both sides at the button edge. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. Jeff took a photo of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The spots of lava overflowing on the rim top made me thick that some of the lava had been scraped off by the seller.  There was a thick cake in the bowl that would need to be reamed out. There was dust and debris in the curls and curves of the brass cap.He also took a photo of the right side and underside of the bowl and shank to show the amazing birdseye and swirling grain around the bowl. The classic WDC stain looked pretty good under the grime.Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank and the setting between the brass ferrule and the bowl. The WDC triangle logo stamping is legible and very readable.The next photos show the rim cap and ferrule and highlight the heart and filigree patterns in the brass. You can also see the oxidation on the brass in the photos.The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. They also show the deep oxidation on the stem. The third photo below shows the threaded bone tenon. Jeff did a thorough clean up job on the pipe so that  when it arrived here in Vancouver it looked amazingly good for a pipe that is at least a hundred years old. Jeff carefully 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 of the pipe. He rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove all of the lava build up on the beveled rim top of the pipe. The brass rim top and ferrule looked very good. The birdseye and cross grain was beautiful and the pipe looked very good. There were tooth marks and chatter visible on both sides of the stem at the button. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work. I took close up photos of the bowl, rim and stem surfaces to capture the condition of the pipe after Jeff had done his cleanup. The rim top was clean and the brass inner edge was in excellent condition. The stem was quite clean with some tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank and the flow of the grain on the shank and bowl side. It is a beautiful piece of briar.The bowl and rim top looked really good after Jeff’s clean up work. I decided to go straight to polishing 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 the bowl with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the grain really stood out on the smooth rim. The finish looks very good with the grain popping through the brown stain on the bowl and the brass on the rim top and shank end. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks on both sides with clear super glue. It takes a while  to cure so I set it aside and worked on another pipe while it hardened.Once the repairs had cured I used a needle file to sharpen the edge of the button and smooth out the repairs on the surface of the stem. I sanded it with 220 and 400 grit sand paper to smooth out the repairs and blend them into the surface of the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I finished by giving it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and setting it aside to dry. Since I had finished both the bowl and stem I put them back together and carefully polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. The combination of metal, Bakelite and briar makes this a very touch process. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I carefully 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 brass rim cap and shank end and the beautiful grain of the briar on the bowl came alive on the buffing wheel. The rich brown stain works well with polished amber coloured Bakelite stem. The finish looks amazing and it is smooth and light weight in the hand. Judging from the condition when we got it, I am sure that this will be another amazing smoker. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 7/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This beauty will be going into my collection of old WDC and CPF. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beautiful old time WDC Calabash pipe.

Sprucing up the first of my WDC; a Demuth Gold Dot #77 Bulldog


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

There a quite a few WDCs that I have inherited from my old man and the one on my table now is a “Demuth, Gold Dot”. I love the classic Bulldog and Rhodesian shape in pipes and am naturally attracted to pipes with this shape. Thus, no surprise here that I chose to work on this WDC Demuth Gold Dot in a classic Bulldog shape!!

This is the first WDC from my grandfather’s collection, a smooth Gold Dot in an impressive Bulldog shape. The beautiful straight grain follow a circular pattern on the right and front of the bowl while linear pattern adorns the left side of the bowl and along the diamond shank, neatly divided by the spine on either side. The shank is stamped on the left with the trademark inverted equilateral triangle with letters “WDC” enclosed in it. This is followed by “Demuth” over “GOLD DOT” in block capital letters. On the right, the shank is stamped “IMPORTED” over “BRIAR ROOT” followed by the shape number “77” towards the bowl and shank joint. A half inch thick gold band adorns the shank end and is stamped on the left with the trademark WDC triangle over “14 K”, indicating the purity of the gold band. The ¾ bent saddle stem has two gold filled dots in the center of the saddle portion of the stem on the left side. I searched pipedia.com for more information on this pipe and attempt at estimating the vintage of this pipe. Here is what I have found on pipedia:-

William Demuth. (Wilhelm C. Demuth, 1835-1911), a native of Germany, entered the United States at the age of 16 as a penniless immigrant. After a series of odd jobs he found work as a clerk in the import business of a tobacco tradesman in New York City. In 1862 William established his own company. The William Demuth Company specialized in pipes, smoker’s requisites, cigar-store figures, canes and other carved objects.

The Demuth Company is probably well known for the famous trademark, WDC in an inverted equilateral triangle. William commissioned the figurative meerschaum Presidential series, 29 precision-carved likenesses of John Adams, the second president of the United States (1797-1801) to Herbert Hoover, the 30th president (1929-1933), and “Columbus Landing in America,” a 32-inch-long centennial meerschaum masterpiece that took two years to complete and was exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

The Presidential series was the result of Demuth’s friendship with President James A. Garfield, a connoisseur of meerschaum pipes. Demuth presented two pipes to Garfield at his inauguration in 1881, one in his likeness, the other in the likeness of the President’s wife. Later, Demuth arranged for another figurative matching the others to be added to the collection as each new president acceded to the White House, terminating with President Hoover.

In early 1937, the City of New York notified S.M. Frank & Co. of their intent to take by eminent domain, part of the land on which the companies pipe factory was located. This was being done to widen two of the adjacent streets. As a result of this, Frank entered into negotiations to purchase the Wm. Demuth Co.’s pipe factory in the Richmond Hill section of Queens. It was agreed upon that Demuth would become a subsidiary of S.M. Frank and all pipe production of the two companies would be moved to DeMuth factory. New Corporate offices were located at 133 Fifth Avenue, NYC.

Demuth pipes continued to be made at the Richmond Hill plant till December 31. 1972. Then the Wm. Demuth Company met its official end as a subsidiary company by liquidation.

I came across an interesting advertisement on the same page on pipedia.com which shows the exact same pipe that I am now working on. It is the same pipe as the first pipe on the left. A close scrutiny of the picture confirms the following:

(a) The Gold Dot line of WDC pipes was offered sometime before 1941 as inferred from the bottom line of this flyer which encourages readers to “WRITE FOR NEW 1941 STYLE BOOKLET”, implying that this flyer was published prior to 1941!!!!!

(b) The Gold Dot line of WDC pipes was at the time their top of the line product as it is the most expensive of all the pipes advertised in the flyer, retailing at $10!!!Pipephil.eu too has the same pipe shown with shape # 77. Here is the link; http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-w1.html

From the above gleaned information, it is safe to conclude that the pipe now on my worktable is of 1940s vintage and at that point in time was WDC’s top-of-the-line offering!!!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
Age definitely shows on the stummel surface!!! The briar is dull and lifeless and has taken on a layer of aged patina, through which one can make out the beautiful straight grain patterns all around. There is a heavy overflow of lava all over the entire stummel surface. The bowl cap, bowl, shank and even the stem is covered in oils, tars and grime accumulated over the years of storage and is sticky to the touch. To be honest, the stummel is filthy to say the least. A thorough cleaning of the stummel followed by polish should accentuate the beautiful straight grain pattern seen on the stummel through all the dirt. The double ring that separates the cap from the rest of the bowl is even and undamaged; however, it is filled with dust, dirt and grime. The chamber exudes a strong, but not definitely unpleasant, smell. I hope that this will be addressed once the chamber has been reamed and internals of the shank and mortise is cleaned with isopropyl alcohol. There is heavy buildup of cake with a thick layer in the chamber. The buildup is such that I am barely able to squeeze my little finger in to the bowl. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained only after the cake has been removed completely and taken down to bare briar. The bowl however, feels robust and solid to the touch from the outside. The rim top has a thick layer of overflowing lava. The condition of the beveled inner and outer edge and rim top can be commented upon once the overflow of lava is removed and the chamber is reamed. The shank end of the pipe is clean. However, the mortise does show signs of accumulated dried oils, tars and remnants of ash, greatly restricting the air flow, or dare I say, completely restricting air flow. These issues should be a breeze to address, unless some hidden gremlins present themselves!! The vulcanite stem has deep tooth indentations and minor tooth chatter on the upper and lower surface. It is heavily oxidized and has traces of overflowing lava, dust, oils and tars on the saddle portion of the stem. The opening of the tenon is filled with dried oils and tars. The air flow through the stem is greatly restricted to say the least. The fit of the stem in to the mortise is very tight, which will loosen further after the mortise and tenon have been cleaned. The metal tenon has a slot like groove extending more than half way towards the stem end on either side; probably to securely seat the “changeable filter” as advertised in the flyer above (actually I was wondering the purpose of the metal tenon, which as it is, was new to me, with slots on either side. This doubt was cleared by the flyer!!). The overall condition of the pipe, with the thick build-up of cake in the chamber, clogged mortises and stem airway, overflowing of lava covering the entire stummel, makes me believe that this would have been one of my grandfather’s favorite pipes.

THE PROCESS
I started this project by reaming the chamber with size 2 and followed it up with size 3 head of PipNet reamer. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber of the pipe. Once I had reached the bare briar, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust from the chamber. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of heat fissures or cracks. I scrapped out the overflowing lava from the rim top with my fabricated knife. The inner and outer rim edges are pristine and that was a big relief.This was followed by cleaning the mortise and air way of the pipe using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips dipped in alcohol. The mortise and the draught hole were given a final clean with shank brushes dipped in alcohol. I dried the mortise with a rolled paper napkin. The shank internals and the draught hole are now nice and clean with an open and full draw. The gunk in the mortise had hardened to such an extent that I had to resort to using all the tools of the trade to get rid of the accumulated gunk, not to mention the time spent on cleaning it. The crud that was extracted from the mortise can be seen in the picture below. I had expected that the ghosting would be history by this stage. However, that was not to be the case. I had to resort to alcohol treatment to get rid of all the ghosting. I packed a few cotton balls in to the chamber. Drawing out a wick from one cotton ball, I inserted it in to the mortise of the pipe. Using a syringe, I topped the chamber with isopropyl alcohol and set it aside. Half hour later, I topped the chamber again with isopropyl alcohol as the level of alcohol had gone down from spreading inside the stummel. This process is usually done using Kosher salt as it leaves no aftertaste or smells. But here, in my part of the world, Kosher salts costs a huge bomb and from my personal experience, I have realized that cotton works equally well in drawing out all the oils and tars from the internals of the stummel exactly as Kosher salt does, but at a very economical cost. I set the stummel aside overnight to allow the alcohol to do its intended task. Next morning, I discard the wick and cotton balls from the stummel and wipe the bowl clean. Though the cotton balls and the cotton wick did not turn a dirty color as usual, the old smells were completely eliminated. While the stummel was soaking in the alcohol bath, I cleaned out the internals of the stem using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. Well, that sounds easier than actually done. From the amount of overflowing lava deposits on the stem, I had anticipated a difficult time in cleaning the stem internals. But what really confronted me was a nightmare of a time cleaning it. For starters, the pipe cleaners would not move an inch in to the airway from either ends!!! I soak the internals of the stem, after packing the slot with a pipe cleaner, by filling it with isopropyl alcohol using a syringe. This helped in loosening the hardened oils and tars in the air way. Thereafter began the tedious process of cleaning the stem internals with a straightened paper clip and scrubbing the aluminum tenon with the fabricated dental spatula. The blobs of accumulated gunk removed from the air way could not be photographed as my table and tray was cleaned out by my helper before I could take a few pictures!!!! After a great deal of struggle, time and lots of pipe cleaners, the air way is finally clean with an open draw.The deep bite marks on the stem were flamed using a Bic lighter. However, this did not work. From my experience, I have learnt that getting rid of the oxidation from and around the surface to be filled helps in subsequent better blending of the fill with the stem surface. With a folded piece of used 220 grit sand paper, I sand the area that is required to be filled. I cleaned the sanded portion of the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol and spot filled the damaged area with a mixture of activated charcoal and clear superglue. I set the stem aside for the fill to cure. Now, it was the turn of the stummel to get cleaned up. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the stummel, cleaning the surface thoroughly. I was very deliberate on the surface areas which were covered in overflowed lava over which dirt and grime had accumulated over the years. I rinsed the stummel under tap water, taking care that water does not enter the mortise or the chamber. I dried the stummel using cotton cloth and paper napkins. On close inspection, I observed a couple of dents and ding on the front portion of the crown. These would need to be addressed. Other than this, the stummel is now clean and devoid of any grime and dirt. It is really surprising that the rim top, inner bevel and edges and the stummel is in such pristine condition after so many years of storage and without a single fill. Speaks volumes about the quality of this line of pipes from WDC!! I addressed the dents and dings to the front portion of the crown by the steaming process. I heated my fabricated knife over a candle. I placed a soaked Turkish hand towel over the dents and placed the hot knife over the wet towel. The steam that was generated pulled the dents to the surface. The stummel is now without any blemishes.To further clean and highlight the grains, I sand the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stummel after each wet pad with a moist cloth to remove the resulting dust. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. The pipe now looks lovely with beautiful grains showing off their beauty in all glory!! With the stummel nice and clean and attractive, I worked the stem of the “GOLD DOT” by sanding the fills with a flat heat needle to achieve a rough match with the surrounding stem surface. I sharpened the lip edges using a needle file and sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper to perfectly blend the filled surface with the rest of the stem surface. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. By mere sanding itself, the minor tooth marks seen on stem surfaces were completely addressed. This process also eliminated the deep oxidation seen on the vulcanite stem. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Extra Virgin Olive oil after every three pads. I completed the restoration of the stummel by cleaning the grooves between the twin rings separating the crown from the rest of the stummel, of all the dust, grime and polishing compounds accumulated during the restoration process. Lucky me, there is no damage to the rings, which would have been a challenge to restore.To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my local machine which is similar to a Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and polished the entire pipe with White Diamond compound. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel and the stem. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe, with the dark brown hues of the grains on the stummel contrasting with the shiny black stem, looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. If only the pipe could tell some of my grand Old man’s stories and recount incidents witnessed while being smoked.…Cheers!! I am grateful to all the readers for their valuable time spent in reading this write up and joining me on this part of the journey in to the world of pipe restoration while I attempt to preserve a heritage and past memories of a part of me. 

Working on another of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

Paresh, my friend in India reached out to me over Whatsapp to talk about a few more of his Grandfather’s pipes. He was confident in working on many of them but there were a few that he wanted me to try my hand on. His wife Abha would ream and clean them for me so I would be able to start with a relatively clean pipe. The first of these was a beautiful older WDC Bulldog with an amber coloured Bakelite stem. It was in rough condition when Paresh and Abha started working on it. They reamed the thick hard cake with a KleenReem pipe reamer and clean up the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap. They also cleaned the interior with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The rim top had a thick over flow of lava that hid the briar that Paresh topped to smooth out. There was some darkening to the rim top and down the sides of the bowl cap. The briar was very dirty. There was a gold stamped WDC triangle on the left side of the shank and a brass decorative band that was loose. The stem was a mess. There was a large chunk of the Bakelite missing on the underside and deep tooth marks on the top and underside near and on the surface of the button. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition when it arrived.You can see the work that Paresh and Abha had done to the rim top to clean it up and remove the damage. He had also worked over the inner edge of the bowl to smooth out the damage to the edge. You can also see the extensive damage to the stem in these photos.I took some close up photos of the bowl and stem to give a better idea of what I was working with on this pipe. The rim top was clean but there was darkening down the edges of the cap for about a quarter of an inch. The stem was a mess. Paresh had tried to repair the damage and tooth marks with some clear super glue that he picked up in India. He found that it was inferior and did not harden quickly. Once it did the repair tended to fall out. It was very frustrating. He was able to patch the tooth marks on the stem but not the missing chunk at the stem/shank union.The bowl was the easiest part of the restoration on this old pipe so I started there. I worked on the darkening along the top edge of the cap and was able to remove it with micromesh sanding pads. I used 1500-2400 grit pads to remove the damage and then polished it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad after each pad to check out the progress. I polished the rim top at the same time. The photos tell the story. With the rim darkening removed and the rim and cap polished it was time to touch up the stain to blend it into the rest of the bowl. I used a Mahogany stain pen and stained the cap and the rim top. The match was a little darker than I wanted and not as transparent either. I wetted a cotton pad with alcohol and wiped down the cap to blend the stain and make it more transparent. This did the trick and I was happy with the finished colour. The photos show the process. I slipped the loose brass shank cap/band off the shank and used a tooth pick to put some all-purpose glue around the shank end. I pressed the band in place on the shank and wiped off the excess glue that squeezed out with a damp cotton pad.The briar was clean but dried out and in need of some deep cleaning. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a needle file to clean up the edges of the button on both sides. I also used the file to smooth out the repairs that Paresh had made to the tooth marks on the surface of the stem. He had done a good job and now it was time to blend them into the surface of the stem.I sanded the file marks out of the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper and blended the repairs into the surface of the stem. I filled in the missing chunk of Bakelite with multiple layers of amber super glue. I could have used clear glue but I had the amber around and it is a thicker product so it used it. I use layers so that the repair does not get to thick. It makes the drying time shorter and I think it gives a better bond.I laid the stem aside and went to bed. I touched up the final layer of glue in the morning and went to work. The stem had the entire day to cure. When I returned in the evening I sanded the repaired area with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the entire stem surface to make the flow of the taper correct. I would need to add some more glue to the patch but progress was being made. Slowly but surely I was conquering this repair.I touched up the glue repairs and wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I took the next two photos to send on Whatsapp to Paresh and Abha. The stem is looking really good. There is still a lot of polishing to do but it is getting there.I polished the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratches and polish the Bakelite.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I carefully polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond (using a soft touch) to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I gave the stem several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a soft cloth. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The transparent medium brownish red stain worked really well with the golden/amber Bakelite stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 4 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This is the first of three of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes that he sent me to finish. I will set it aside and when the others are finished I will pack them up and send them back to India. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of it once he gets to load it with his favourite tobacco and carry on the pipe man’s legacy of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me as I worked over this beauty.

Craig’s Pipes #5 Restoring a William Demuth and Company (WDC) Campaign Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

In my previous 4 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 fifth of his pipes – a WDC Campaign Calabash. It was another one with a cake in the bowl that was thick and hard. For the last time I am going to include what Craig wrote me about his pipes. I have included it in the previous four 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 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. This last pipe is one of the two pipes that stood out for me – the old WDC Campaign pipe and a Grabow Starfire. He had several others that he liked. But 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. I have included the links to the blog covering each pipe. I am finally addressing the last one.

– 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 https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/02/craigs-pipes-3-restemming-and-restoring-a-wally-frank-natural-bulldog

– A Dr. Grabow Starfire 39 that had great grain – https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/03/craigs-pipes-4-restoring-a-dr-grabow-starfire-39/

– 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.  This is last of Craig’s five pipes. It is the second WDC Campaign that I have worked on. It is stamped on the lower left side of the outer bowl with the WDC triangle logo over the word CAMPAIGN. There was no other stamping on the pipe. The bowl was like a calabash bowl and screwed into the outer bowl. The entirety was made out of briar. The grain on the bowl and rim top is mixed grain with straight, flame, swirled and a bit of birdseye thrown in as well. The briar was very dirty and there were some sticky spots around the sides of the bowl. The rim top had some lava on the surface and there was an uneven cake in the bowl. There was a polished nickel band on the shank but there was no shank stamping. The band was stamped NICKEL PLATED. The stem was lightly oxidized and the fit against the end of the shank was snug. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. I took close up photos of the bowl, rim top and all of the parts of the pipe. The first photo shows the stamping on the left side of the bowl. You can see the WDC triangle over the word Campaign. The surface of the outer bowl was dirty and grimy. The rim top had some tars and lava on the surface and a few nicks along the outer edge of the bowl. I unscrewed the cup from the outer bowl and took photos of the parts. It was actually surprisingly clean. The photos show the cake in the bowl and the dust and grime between the bowls. The stem had some minor tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button and scratching on the surface. There were some small nicks on the top side of the stem. There was an X on the underside of the stem at the shank/stem junction. The surface of the stem was lightly oxidized and dirty.The previous Campaign pipe that I restored was posted on the blog earlier. I am attaching the link to that blog and some of the information that I found in researching the brand at that time. (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/wdc-campaign-calabash-pipe/). In my online research I found a brief interchange on a Google group. I include the link if you would like to read it in context and its entirety. It gives some helpful information regarding this particular pipe. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.smokers.pipes/kpkpd3zXoiwExcerpt from pipedia.org

To a request for information regarding the WDC Campaign pipe on the Google Group there was quite a long string of answers. I am quoting two of those in full…

Respondent 1: While I can’t say anything about this pipe specifically, I have a hazy memory of that shape listed in a book about pipes; (I may be totally misremembering this, but here goes) the shape being called the “Dawes”, named after Harding’s Vice President?  Anyone else remember this? Sounds like an interesting pipe, whatever it’s called…

Respondent 2: From Weber’s Guide to Pipes: “The Dawes Pipe (more correctly named the Lyons, after its inventor, Charles Herbert Lyons) happened to be the favorite pipe of General Charles G. Dawes, Vice-President of the USA from 1925 to 1929. General Dawes smoked the curious pipe incessantly and it became popularly known as the Dawes Underslung, because the shank joined the bowl near its rim.”

I looked on Pipedia, (https://pipedia.org/wiki/William_Demuth_Company) and I quote in part from the article on the William Demuth Company.

The Demuth Company is probably well known for the famous trademark, WDC in an inverted equilateral triangle. William commissioned the figurative meerschaum Presidential series, 29 precision-carved likenesses of John Adams, the second president of the United States (1797-1801) to Herbert Hoover, the 30th president (1929-1933), and “Columbus Landing in America,” a 32-inch-long centennial meerschaum masterpiece that took two years to complete and was exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

The Presidential series was the result of Demuth’s friendship with President James A. Garfield, a connoisseur of meerschaum pipes. Demuth presented two pipes to Garfield at his inauguration in 1881, one in his likeness, the other in the likeness of the President’s wife. Later, Demuth arranged for another figurative matching the others to be added to the collection as each new president acceded to the White House, terminating with President Hoover.

From the above information I learned some significant details about the Campaign pipe. It was invented by Charles Herbert Lyons and was the favourite pipe of General Charles G. Dawes who was the Vice President of the USA under President Harding from 1925-1929. It fits nicely into that period when WDC was having Presidential Pipes commissioned ending in 1933. That places this old pipe in the time period between the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Reminded of the history of the brand and the provenance of this particular pipe it was time to begin working on the cleanup. I removed bowl cup and cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I cleaned out the inside of the outer cup with cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the buildup of tars and oils in the threads and sides and bottom of the bowl.I reamed the inner bowl/cup with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape away the remaining cake that was in the bowl. I scraped it back to bare briar. I scrubbed out the outside and the inside of the bowl with cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the remaining oil and tars. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inner edge of the cup. I worked on the edge until it was clean. 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 a damp cotton pad to clean off the sanding dust. The photos show the progress of the polishing. Once again I decided to do this before the deep cleaning with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar on the bowl and the rim top with my finger tips to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the wood. 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 sanded the band with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I polished the nickel band with a jeweler’s polishing cloth.I set the bowl aside in my rack and worked on the stem. I started by sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the light oxidation, tooth chatter and nicks in the surface.I cleaned the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners to remove the debris and tars in the airway from the tenon to the slot in the button. 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. When I finished with the last micromesh pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both the fine and the extra fine polishes. I wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and buffed the entire pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I buffed 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 stem and the bowl polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the final pipe of Craig’s five. Now that I have finished the last of the pipes it is time to pack them up and get them out to him. I am looking forward to hearing what he will think once he has them in hand. Thanks for walking through these restorations with me. Once again I can’t help 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.

A Lady’s Choice – WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

Is there a psychology in the choosing one makes when befriending a pipe?  A young Bulgarian lady, who also is a budding pipe lady, chose a pipe out of my ‘Help Me!’ baskets and boxes.  After looking at scores of hopeful candidates, there was only one – only one – that she held in her hands, looking at it and smiling. A beautiful, graceful, WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard caught her attention, and it would seem, her affections.  Is there a psychology unfolding in the process, the evaluation, and the weighing of one pipe against another?  Or, is the process more like the lore of Harry Potter’s choice of one’s wand?  The young wizard does not choose the wand – the wand chooses his wizard.  Does the pipe do the choosing?

And is there any credence to the oft unspoken observation – do pipe stewards resemble their pipes like canine lovers sometimes uncannily resemble their 4-legged friends?  These observations come to my mind because intriguingly, the young lady who was claimed by the WDC Milano Swan Neck, shares, in some very remarkable ways, pleasing characteristics of this graceful pipe.

And then there is the ‘question’ of the ‘Pipe Lady’ more so than the ‘Pipe Man’.  A Pipe Lady lives closer to the social and cultural ‘edge’ when she takes her pipe in hand and enjoys a bowl of her favorite blend.  This picture I found somewhere on the internet (sorry, can’t cite!), I suspect would never be ascribed to Pipe Men.  Yet, a Pipe Lady looks at the three with a smile of agreement and a wink, while she is thinking, ‘You’ve got that one right!’This graceful, Milano Swan Neck stem comes from the William Demuth Company, established in 1862 – one of the oldest pipe manufacturing houses in the United States (Pipedia article).  The WDC Milano patent goes back to the 1920s with an example of the familiar WDC rhombus from the same WDC article in Pipedia (courtesy of Doug Valitchka).The eBay seller from Akron, Ohio, described the long dimensions of the Lady’s Choice WDC Milano:  Very graceful bent billiard! About 6″ long, bowl is 2″ tall, 1 3/8″ wide. ID 3/4″, depth 1 13/16″. From Pipedia’s WDC article, courtesy Doug Valitchka, a very nice example of what appears to be the same Swan Neck Billiard of the Milano line.From my worktable on the 10th floor of our flat here in Sofia, Bulgaria, I take these pictures to fill in the gaps. On the left side of the shank is stamped the traditional WDC rhombus [over] MILANO.  The right side is stamped the single shape number, ‘63’.  The chamber appears to have been cleaned to some degree and the carbon cake is very light.  The rim is sad.  It appears someone took a divot out of the internal lip trying to clean it or something.  The rim’s outer edge is beat up and I can see the vestiges of a bevel.  There is lava crusting as well on the rim surface and some hardened light stuff – the rim needs cleaning.  The stummel has few if any fills that I see – the grain of the tall bowl is impressive.  The stem has the WDC inlaid white triangle on the top.  Oxidation is present and the former steward was a clencher and chewer.  Both top and bottom of the bit shows deep bite dents.  The top button lip is dented.

The recommissioning of this Lady’s Choice WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard, begins by putting the stem into the OxiClean bath to work on the oxidation.  The second thing I do is toss the tubing that was hanging in the tenon.  If it belonged to this pipe originally, something is missing as the airway diameter of the tenon is much larger than the tubing.  On an interesting note, there is a patent number stamped on the tubular stinger.  I looked it up in Google patent search but found nothing that had bearing on pipes (PAT. NO. 5861 / IX – I think).Next, after spreading paper towel to catch the carbon dust, I use the Savinelli Pipe Knife to remove the little carbon left.  I follow with sanding the chamber walls with a 240 piece of sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. I then turn to cleaning the internals of the stummel using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%.  There’s a good bit of tar and oils in the mortise.  After some time, I decide to switch to a Kosher Salt and alcohol soak to finish off the internal cleaning and to freshen the stummel.Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap I work on the external surface of the stummel and the rim with cotton pads.  I also use a brass bristled brush on the rim.  After the scrub, I rinse the stummel in cool tap water.  The condition of the rim becomes more evident.  I think I will be able to remove the large divot at 4 o’clock in the second picture below by creating an internal bevel on the rim after I lightly top it. I start with by topping the stummel using 240 grit paper.  I follow by creating an internal and external bevel around the rim.  After a few rounds of working on the bevels, I realize that the internal rim divot is too much for the bevel to erase.  I switch gears and mix some briar dust with thick CA glue and create a putty and fill the divot on the rim.  I spray it with an accelerator to shorten the curing time.  With a needle file, I file down the briar dust patch material until it’s almost flush with the briar.  I then use 240 and 600 grit sanding paper to blend the patch and finish the bevel on the internal and external edges of the rim.I then sand the stummel using a medium grade sanding sponge followed by a light grade sanding sponge.  I remove the minor nicks and scratches on the bowl surface.I then proceed to sand the bowl using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then 3200 to 4000, then finally, 6000 to 12000.  The process brings out the beautiful horizontal grain flows from the front of the bowl downward to encompass the heel.  Bird’s eye grain is sprinkled nicely on the stummel sides. With the day ending, I continue the cleaning and refreshing of the stummel internals using a Kosher Salt and alcohol soak.  I create a wick to insert into the shank/mortise by twisting and stretching a cotton ball.  I take a straight stiff wire to help stuff it deeply into the mortise.  With the stummel secured in the egg carton I fill the bowl with Kosher Salt (which leaves no iodine after taste) and give it a shank to displace the salt.  I then, using a large eye-dropper, put isopropyl 95% into the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  I put it aside for the night.  The next morning, the salt and alcohol soak did the job well.  The salt had turned dark and pulling the wick out – the same was true of it.  I toss the expended salt and wick in the waste and wipe the bowl out removing leftover salt.  Then returning to the use of cotton swabs and alcohol, in only a few plunges down the mortise, the internals are clean.  Pictures show the cleaning process. The stem was soaking in an OxiClean bath to raise the oxidation from the vulcanite.  I take stem out of the bath and the oxidation was raised showing the normal olive-green color.  I then take 600 grit sanding paper and wet sand the stem to remove the oxidation and to work on the serious teeth clenching damage. After the 600 grit sanding, I give the stem a stiff buffing from 0000 grade steel wool.  Interestingly, I noticed it earlier but thought that it would go away with the OxiClean and sanding.  I see a small lighter (reddish?) dot on the underside of the stem (second picture below), almost below the WDC triangle mark but just off center.  I’m not expecting a ‘manmade’ mark there so I assume it’s a discoloration in the vulcanite.  I take a little 240 grit paper and go after it, but it remains for now.  Pictures show oxidation and post-oxidation sanding. The button area is in bad shape.  The former steward was a clencher par excellence.  Neither upper nor lower bit areas were spared.  The upper has deep bites and a ‘wedgy’ dent on the button lip.  The lower button lip is spared, but there is a ‘go to’ clench handle which is distinct.  I take pictures to mark the start. Focusing first on the topside, I use the heating method to see if I might hopefully tease out the concave dents.  Then the bottom-side.  Vulcanite, a form of rubber, amazingly will seek out its original disposition when heated as the rubber expands with the heat.  I light a candle and pass the bit-end of the stem over the flame in back and forth style.  I try not to cook the vulcanite, but simply heat it strategically.  After some time, using heat on upper and then lower, I take pictures to compare.  You can see the closing of the dents in the picture comparisons below.  I think there is a beneficial change, but there are still dents to repair.  Pictures 1 and 2 are before heating and after for the upper side.  Pictures 3 and 4 of the lower side – before heating and after.  I first use 240 grit paper on the upper bit.  I sand out as much as possible all the smaller dents. Through the years of clenching, the button lip has lost its distinction so using a flat needle file, I reintroduce the lip edge and then follow by sanding with 240 to erase file tracks and shape more.  I’m wondering if I can avoid having to rebuild the button lip.  I gently sand the upper button lip as well.  The tooth grip has turned into only a small dimple – good movement.  I sand gently to remove the dimple because I don’t want to lose too much button real estate.  The top looks great.  The only patch needed is the remaining large dent.  The topside filing, sanding and shaping progression is pictured below. Turning to the lower bit, again I use 240 grit sanding paper to sand out what can be removed and blended by sanding. The dent/clench configuration was minimized by sanding but I need to patch what remains of the surface damage.To prep the vulcanite for the patch work, I wipe down the upper and lower bit with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I mix activated charcoal powder with Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA Instant Glue (extra thick) to form a putty which is like molasses in viscosity to apply to the damaged areas.  I use a tooth pick as my trowel and tamper and I apply more putty than needed – the patch mound allows me to file down gently to the surface of the stem to achieve a better blended patch.  I apply putty to the upper bit, and a dab on the small, remaining dimple on the button lip.  I spray it with accelerator to cure the putty.  I then do the same for the needed area on the lower bit.  The pictures show the patch progress. Using a flat needle file, I begin filing the patch mound on the upper bit until I’m very close to the vulcanite surface.  With the patch expanding closely to the button lip, I also utilize the flat needle file to separate and define the button lip.  When close to the surface, I switch to 240 grit paper to bring the patch flush with the vulcanite surface.  After I’ve blended as far as 240 paper will take me, I switch to 600 grit paper and then finally, 0000 steel wool which fine tunes the blending and each in turn erases the former’s scratch marks.  I take pictures along the way to document progress. At this point, not surprised, I see very small air pockets exposed on the patch area (see picture above).  Taking Hot Stuff CA Glue, thinner than the ‘T’ I used for the patch, I dip a toothpick into the glue opening to give a coat of CA glue on the toothpick.  With this wet glue, I paint the patch with a thin glaze of glue which fills the air pockets.  I give the glaze of glue a quick spray of accelerator to cure it.  I then take 600 grit paper followed by 0000 steel wool to blend and complete the upper bit patch work.  The micromesh sanding later will further blend the patches.Now, to the lower bit patch.  As before, I use the flat needle file initially, then 240, 600 and then 0000 grade steel wool working toward the vulcanite surface then blending.  Again, a few miniscule air pockets are revealed in the patch, and I repeat the same procedure as on the upper patch. Having been so focused on the button repairs, I almost forget (again) to clean the stem internal airway.  With pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol, I do that and it does not take long to clean.Putting the stem aside, I pick up the stummel.  I will use Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to add some unifying hues on this very attractive WDC Milano’s grain.  I like the lighter motif which is what the Milano’s picture included above courtesy of Doug Valitchka.  I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to make sure it’s clean.  I then warm the stummel with the heat gun after inserting a whittled cork into the shank to serve as a handle.  After the bowl is warmed, helping the briar more effectively to absorb the dye, I apply the dye liberally using a folded over pipe cleaner.  After the stummel is covered, I fire the dye with a lit candle which ignites the alcohol in the dye and sets the pigment in the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat the procedure concluding with firing.  I then put the stummel aside to rest. While the stummel rests, the stem is ready for the micromesh pad cycle.  I wet sand with pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  After each cycle, I apply Obsidian Oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite, and my how it likes it!  The pop of a newly restored stem is wonderful to behold! The next day, I’m home from work, and it’s time to ‘unwrap’ the stained and fired bowl.  I mount the felt buffing wheel on the Dremel, which provides more abrasion to the surface, helping to remove the crust.  I used Tripoli compound with the Dremel set at 20% speed – slow because I don’t want to generate too much friction. Using the Dremel’s adjustment wrench, I purge the old compound off the felt wheel to clean and soften it.  I work the felt buffing wheel applying the abrasive Tripoli compound over the stummel.  I am not able to reach the bend curve between the shank and the bowl with the felt wheel.  I change to a cotton cloth buffing wheel again, only dedicated to Tripoli compound.  Each compound has its own dedicated Dremel buffing wheels.  With the cotton cloth wheel, I’m able to reach into the harder to get places.  I run the wheel over the entire surface.  I take a picture showing the completion of the ‘unwrapping’.  One of the helpful aspects of aniline, or alcohol-based dyes, is the ability to wipe it with alcohol to lighten the application as well as blend the dye.  I want to lighten this WDC Milano so I wipe it down with cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I take a picture before and after.  Immediately after wiping down the surface, the surface clouds with the alcohol.  Then I remove the alcohol wipe clouding effect with Blue Diamond compound, with a cotton cloth wheel mounted on the Dremel at 40% speed.  Following the Blue Diamond application, the true ‘after’ picture is taken.  I also reunite the stem with the stummel for the Blue Diamond buffing.  Well, the third picture below represents the lighter ‘after’ picture, but I don’t believe the picture does justice to what my eyes are seeing.  The lightening and blending of the surface hue is showing off the grains quite nicely.  I’m liking it!  I think this, “Lady’s Choice” is going to like her choice too! I give the pipe a hand buffing with a felt cloth, not so much to buff up the shine at this point but to remove the compound dust from the surface.  The compounds are abrasives and the dust is the residue left over.  After this, I mount the Dremel with a dedicated cotton cloth buffing wheel, leaving the speed at 40%, I apply the carnauba wax evenly over the stummel and stem.  I finish with a hefty hand buffing of the pipe with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine more.

This WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard is a lady’s choice.  I hope she likes it.  It is an elegant pipe and showcases beautiful flowing grain.  I’m pleased with the button repair that blended very well – without knowing it’s there, most people would not see it.  The repaired rim also looks good – forming the beginning of the long elegant lines carried through to the swan neck stem.  Nice.  Each pipe I restore benefits the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  For more information about this and pipes I have available, check out the store at The Pipe Steward.  Thanks for joining me! 

Cleaning up an Unusual Petite WDC Monitor Disk Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

This petite and unusual disk shaped pipe came to me in the lot my brother and I found on our virtual pipe hunt in Montana (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/04/26/a-virtual-pipe-hunt-a-new-way-to-experience-the-joy-of-a-pipe-hunt/). It was in the same lot as the older C.P.F. and WDC pipes that I have been working on. I am guessing it is from the same era as the rest – late 1880s through early 1890s – but I am not positive. I can find nothing on the WDC Monitor in my pamphlets, books or online. The dimensions give you a picture of the size – length 4 ½ inches, height 1 3/8 inches, diameter of the bowl 1 inch, diameter of the chamber ½ inch. I have also included a photo of the pipe next to a Canadian Toonie ($2 coin, same size as the American $2 coin) for you to get an idea of the size of the bowl (the second photo was taken after I had begun the cleanup on the stem and band).The pipe was in decent condition. The finish was worn and dirty. There was a cake in the bowl and the inner edge of the rim was damage slightly on the back edge. There was lava on the top of the rim but it looked like it was not too heavy and it did not appear that there was burn damage. There was one fill/sandpit on the front side of the bowl near the top. The stem was like the WDC Wellington faux P-lip with the airway coming out at the end rather than on top. It was oxidized and dirty. There were some light scratches and chatter on the stem but it was in decent shape. The brass band was oxidized and dirty with some heavy buildup on the edges where it met the briar. It was also loose on the shank. My brother took quite a few photos to show the look of the pipe. It really is an interesting shape and one that I have not seen in this aged pipe before.The stamping on the shank of the pipe had some faded gold leaf and read Monitor in script and underlined on the left side and WDC in a triangle on the right side. The stamping was very sharp with a little shallowness on the capital M of Monitor.The grain on the bowl was very nice and the carver had placed the shape on the grain to highlight the variety of grain – birdseye, cross grain and flame. It is a good looking piece of briar and I could only find the one fill. The next two photos show the bowl. Notice not only the cake and the lava overflow on the rim but also the small nicks on the back, inner edge of the rim in both photos.The stem was oxidized as noted above and had scratching but did not have any tooth marks or chatter. The airway in the button was still round and did not show signs of damage. The WDC triangle logo was stamped on the top side of the stem behind the saddle and on the underside of the stem it was stamped SOLID RUBBER. The Solid Rubber stamping was fainter than the WDC logo on the top side of the stem with the word Rubber fading toward the end.Jeff thoroughly cleaned the pipe before he sent it to me. He reamed the bowl and scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals of the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and put the stem in a bath of Oxyclean to bring the oxidation to the surface and soften it. The next photos show what it looked like when it arrived in Vancouver. He did a great job cleaning up the rim and other than the small nicks on the back side of the inner edge it looked flawless.The oxidation on the stem came to the surface after the Oxyclean soak and it had that “wonderful” brown tint that would need to be removed.I wiped the bowl down with a soft cotton pad and a little alcohol to remove any dust or debris left behind by the packing material and dried it off. I used some Rub’n Buff European Gold to touch up the stamping on both sides of the shank. I reglued the band with a white all purpose glue and polished it with micromesh sanding pads.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work over the damage to the rim edge and it did not take too much work to remove it without damaging the shape of the rim or the bowl.I polished the rim top and rim edge with micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the remaining scratch marks from the sandpaper. I hand buffed the bowl a microfiber cloth and took the next four photos to show where I was at with the pipe at this point. I rubbed the stem down with Brebbia Stem Polish to remove as much of the oxidation as I could. I worked on it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I took the next photo to show the stem at this point. There was still oxidation that shows up under the bright flash.I worked on the stem some more with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to further remove the oxidation and when I was happy with the result I used some Rub ‘n Buff European Gold to fill in the WDC Triangle logo on the top of the stem behind the saddle. Like its name you put the gold on the place you want it to be and rub it off. The next two photos show the process. The excess gold turned the area around the stamping gold as well. I  would need to buff it off and finish the polishing with micromesh pads.I buffed the stem with red Tripoli to polish it further and remove some of the excess gold on the stem and saddle. I polished it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil.I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish it more. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a nice piece of briar and a unique old timer that is over a hundred and twenty years old. In the photos the flash revealed yet more oxidation :(. This would have to be polished out later. Off to work now. Thanks for walking through the process with me.