Tag Archives: William Demuth & Co Pipes

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! 

Loving the old WDC Campaign Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

Another of the pipes found during the Virtual Pipe Hunt in Montana was one stamped on the lower left side of the out 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 quite stunning with a lot of birdseye grain on the sides and mixed grain over the rest of the bowl. There was a nickel band on the shank but there was no shank stamping. The band was stamped PLATED NICKEL. The stem was lightly oxidized and the fit against the end of the shank was not tight. There was a gap caused by what I presumed was the tars built up in the mortise area.My brother, Jeff took quite a few photos of the unique old pipe because it really was a beauty. There would need to be some significant cleanup work but the grain and the shape were both unique and quite stunning. The bowl was thickly caked and a thick buildup of tars and oils had flowed over to the top of the rim. The bowl had twin airways in the bottom of the calabash cup directing airflow into the external bowl. The airway in the outer bowl enters the shank at the top of the bowl. Smoke would have been drawn from the calabash cup into the interior of the outer bowl and up the back side to the airway into the shank and through that to the stem and button into the mouth of the smoker. I did a bit of digging online and found a brief interchange on a Google group. Here is the link if you would like to read it in context and in its entirety. It has some helpful information regarding the brand and the particular pipe that I wanted to know more about. 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.

My brother took the following photos of the pipe to show what it looked like when it arrived in Idaho before he started his cleanup work. The cake in the calabash bowl was quite thick and the overflow onto the rim top was also thick. The finish while pretty decent was soiled and spotty with buildup and dirt. Jeff unscrewed the briar calabash bowl insert and removed it from outer bowl. The threads on both looked to be in very good condition. The out bowl was dirty and had a lot of dried tobacco oils and juices along the walls and bottom. The underside of the calabash bowl was dark and dirty with dried oils. It would need to be cleaned up. The next two photos show the stamping on the left side of the outer bowl. It is clearly stamped with the WDC logo in the inverted triangle and under that reads CAMPAIGN. In these photos you can see the beautiful grain of the briar. Even the bottom of the outer bowl has some nice grain. The next two photos show the wear on the finish of the shank and the oxidation on the nickel band on the shank. The band is stamped NICKEL PLATED. The stem does not sit tight against the shank and I am assuming that there is a lot of buildup in the mortise that is keeping it from seating properly.The stem was oxidized and there was some were to the sharp edge of the button. There were some light tooth marks on the surface of the button on both sides.My brother did his usual masterful cleanup on the pipe. When I received it things were much cleaner than the photos above. He had reamed back the calabash bowl to bare briar. He had scrubbed the rim top off and was able to remove the lava coat. He scrubbed the internals of the outer bowl as well. The briar had been scrubbed with Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed to remove all of the grime. The oxidation on the band was better than in the above photos. The stem was oxidized but it now sat properly in the mortise. I took the following photos before I started my final cleanup and restoration. I took some close up photos of the condition of the bowl and rim top. It looked far better than before his cleanup work. The stem also looked really good other than the oxidation. I took the calabash bowl out of the outer bowl and took some photos of the various parts of the pipe. It is an interesting piece of pipe history and it is in excellent condition for a pipe of its age. I did a bit more scrubbing of the internals to remove any remaining oils and tars. I used pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to clean out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem. I scrubbed out the inside of the outer bowl and the inner bowl with alcohol and cotton swabs. I pushed pipe cleaners through the two airholes in the bottom of the calabash bowl. I sanded the bottom of the internal bowl to remove the last of the buildup and wiped it down with alcohol on a cotton pad. I sanded the oxidized stem and reshaped the edge of the button with 220 grit sandpaper to clean things up and bring it back to the original black vulcanite. I scrubbed it with some Before & After Stem Deoxidizer to remove the loosened oxidation. I wiped off the scrub and resanded the stem to remove the remaining oxidation. The photos below show the progress of the stem cleanup. I used a folded piece of 220 sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the calabash bowl and remove the remaining debris along the edge. I sanded the inside of the bowl to clean it up as well. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim top down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. The photos show the progress of the polishing. I polished the outer bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. The photos show the progress of the polishing. To preserve the threads on the calabash bowl and the outer bowl I use a small dab of Vaseline to lubricate both. I rub it into the threads by hand and wipe it down lightly with a cotton pad. I screw the two parts together and find that it removes friction and makes the cap turn easily into the outer bowl. I hand buffed the bowl with a microfibre cloth, polished the nickel band with a jeweler’s cloth and took photos of the pipe at this point in the process. 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 to bring life back to the vulcanite and protect it. The photos show the progress of the polishing. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli to polish out the last oxidation and scratching. I buffed the pipe – stem and bowl – with Blue Diamond on buffing wheel and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. One thing that shows through in the photos is some red along the crease of the button – I am pretty sure it is red Tripoli that is left behind from the initial buffing of the stem. After I took the photos I wiped that area down with some alcohol on a cotton pad. It removed the red Tripoli around the stem. It looks far better now that it is finished. Thanks for walking through this refurbish with me.

 

Restoring a William Demuth Co. Wellington


Blog by Alan DP

I was going through files on my computer the other evening and came across an article I picked up somewhere on the web back in October 2008. Alan DP wrote this and posted it February 25, 2008 for one of the Pipe Forums or online pipe communities. I have always liked WDC pipes and have had many over the years that I kept for my own collection or repaired and restored for others. The vast array of styles, shapes and designs may contribute to my like of the brand. I have older ones from the late 1800’s and later ones as well. When I came across this post of Alan’s I read with interest his work on the Wellington and his helpful information and thought I would share it here. Alan if you happen to read this thank you for your post. It is a great read. Here are Alan’s own words.
–Steve

Here’s a scannergraph of the old Wellington not long after I brought it back from the brink of oblivion. It was part of an eBay lot and I immediately decided it was a keeper, because I had no other pipe like it.WDC1

The Wellington is the WDC copy of the Peterson System pipe. Here’s a cutaway diagram that I snagged from Pipe & Pouch to help explain this pipe’s design.WDC2

The bit, rather than connecting directly to the bowl via the shank, fits into a sort of pocket or reservoir where the air sort of swirls around as it goes into the bowl. The upper air passage goes on into the bowl, and the bottom reservoir collects moisture. This looks like another odd gimmick, but in my opinion, this one works very well. Of course, it requires additional attention when cleaning. I use a cotton swab to clean out the reservoir, and pipe cleaners as usual to clean the air passage.

WDC3

Another thing about the Wellington (and other Peterson copies) is the military bit. Rather than the traditional tenon/mortise arrangement, the bit simply tapers down slightly and wedges into the shank, remaining in place from the pressure of insertion. This design makes it safe to remove the bit while the pipe is still warm–something that is not a good thing with a tenon/mortise design.

A third thing that sets the Wellington/Peterson pipes apart is the button on the bit. Go back and look at the first photo as well as the cutaway graphic and pay attention to the end of the bit. This is a bit design created by Peterson and is called the P-lip. The hole is on top of the button rather than in the very end, and is angled upward to direct smoke toward the roof of the mouth rather than straight into the tongue. Also, the curved underside of the bottom helps to prevent the tongue from touching the opening of the air passage. The upward-pointing opening is supposed to help prevent tongue-bite, and the curved “tongue shield” helps keep saliva from getting into the stem by being touched with the tongue (something that is a troublesome unconscious reflex for some pipe smokers).

Some people hate the P-lip because it feels different. I have no special preference nor objection to it, at all. To me it’s just another bit. The P-lip bit does have a more rounded shape than most bits, and it does feel somewhat different, but it’s nothing that anyone shouldn’t be able to get used to.

This old Wellington has become one of my favorite pipes. Its size and deep bend gives it an impressive appearance and a comfortably low center of gravity. As you can see in the second photo, I have managed to wear off some of the finish since it came into my hands, and I will eventually be refinishing this one. Meanwhile, this is one of my regular truck pipes and I often smoke it on the long commute home in the afternoon. If I manage to come across any more of these pipes in my eBay adventures, I will probably keep them all–at least until I build up a good week’s worth of pipes for rotation.

FYI, Kaywoodie also had a copy of the Peterson System pipe, called the Chesterfield. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to acquire one of those yet.

A Renewed WDC Bakelite and Briar Pipe Restemmed


I received the Bakelite bowl base in a lot that I picked up on EBay. At first glance I figured I would trash it and not worry about working on it at all. However, I tend to be drawn to working on things that others would throw away so I decided to see what I could do with it. The two bowls pictured below are threaded and both fit the base. The Dublin like bowl, once on the base, was too narrow for the base but the bulldog bowl fit well. It was packed with a cake and there were chips out of the double line band around the bowl. The bowl rim was damaged and the finish was absolutely shot with dark black stains in the briar all around the bowl where the thumb and fingers held the bowl. The Bakelite shank had the WDC in a diamond stamped on it. The ornate band that usually adorned the shank as well as the metal washer like band on the top of the bowl base was missing. The shank had a broken metal tenon stuck deep within it. The surface had scratches in it but none of them were too deep.

Bakelite bowl base and two potential bowls before beginning the process of refurbishing.

Bakelite bowl base and two potential bowls before beginning the process of refurbishing.


The bowl is pictured below. You can see the thickness of the cake and the rough surface of the rim where a previous owner had damaged it when emptying the bowl. The second photo shows the exterior damage and the finish on the pipe. I reamed the bowl to clean out the cake. I decided to take it back to bare wood and start over with the cake. I checked the bowl for cracks and damage but surprisingly there were none to be found. Eventually I would top the bowl.
SIde view of the bowl before refurbishing.

SIde view of the bowl before refurbishing.

Top view of the unreamed pipe bowl showing its condition before cleaning

Top view of the unreamed pipe bowl showing its condition before cleaning


I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad, used a dental pick to clean out the grooves and screwed bowl on the base to get an idea how the pipe would look. I also wiped down the bowl base with Everclear to clean off the grime and buildup on that surface. I went through my can of stems in search of a diamond shaped stem that would finish out the look of the pipe. I came up empty-handed so I chose a round stem of the right diameter and length that I could shape to fit the shank. I drilled out the shank to remove the metal tenon and also to open the diameter of the mortise. The original stem had been a screw on one and the metal mortise and the metal tenon were firmly welded together so the drill was the only way to remove it. I opened it as wide as possible while still leaving enough material on the shank to maintain strength. I turned the tenon with the PIMO tenon turning tool and then a Dremel to bring it to the correct size for the new shank. The next two photos show the stem and the fit of the stem to the shank.
WDC base in need of a diamond shaped stem. Necessity is the mother of invention. I used a round Lovat stem.

WDC base in need of a diamond shaped stem. Necessity is the mother of invention. I used a round Lovat stem.


I turned the tenon to fit the mortise and then inserted the stem against the shank.

I turned the tenon to fit the mortise and then inserted the stem against the shank.


Now I needed to shape the stem and remove material to transform the round saddle bit to a diamond saddle bit. I used a Dremel to cut the basic shape in the stem. I proceeded from side to side with the stem on the shank to make sure to match the angles of the shank. I wrote a post on the process for the blog and posted that earlier. You can read about the details of that process on this link https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/shaping-a-diamond-shaped-stem-from-a-round-one/ The next eleven photos give a quick look at the shaping work on the stem. It took time and I had to be careful to not damage the shank when I was using the Dremel and sanding drum on the stem.
Figure 3 I used a Dremel to shape the stem to match the diamond angles of the shank. I worked on one side at a time.

Figure 3 I used a Dremel to shape the stem to match the diamond angles of the shank. I worked on one side at a time.

Figure 4 Pipe resting against the Dremel with a sanding drum. Shaping progressed quite quickly. This picture shows one side beginning to take shape.

Figure 4 Pipe resting against the Dremel with a sanding drum. Shaping progressed quite quickly. This picture shows one side beginning to take shape.

5 Top view of the shank. Both sides of the round stem are beginning to take on the shape of the shank.

5 Top view of the shank. Both sides of the round stem are beginning to take on the shape of the shank.

Figure 6 Top view after more shaping with the Dremel.

Figure 6 Top view after more shaping with the Dremel.

Figure 7 Bottom view before the Dremel did its work.

Figure 7 Bottom view before the Dremel did its work.

Figure 8 Left side view after the first side has begun to take shape.

Figure 8 Left side view after the first side has begun to take shape.

Figure 9 Bottom view after both sides have begun to take shape.

Figure 9 Bottom view after both sides have begun to take shape.

Figure 10 Right side view of the stem after it began to take shape.

Figure 10 Right side view of the stem after it began to take shape.

Figure 11 Back to the worktable and the hand sanding.

Figure 11 Back to the worktable and the hand sanding.

Figure 12 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 12 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 13 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 13 Hand sanding continues.


The original shank had sported an ornate band and the stain in the Bakelite showed the marks of the band. I did not have any ornate bands in my collection of bands so I chose instead to band it with a nickel band. I shaped the band to fit, beginning with a round band. This took a bit of fussing to get the shape and fit correct. I have written that process up in detail in a previous blog post as well. You can read about the process at this link https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/shaping-a-round-metal-band-to-fit-a-square-or-diamond-shank/ Once the band was shaped correctly I heated it with a heat gun until it was pliable and then pressure fit it on the shank of the pipe. The next series of five photos show the process I used to pressure fit the band on the shank. Once it was in place I carefully used my furniture hammer to flatten the band against the shank.
The square is done

The square is done

Fitting a nickel band on the shank

Fitting a nickel band on the shank

Fitting a nickel band on the shank

Fitting a nickel band on the shank

Nickel band fitted on the shank

Nickel band fitted on the shank

Nickel band fitted on the shank

Nickel band fitted on the shank


The next series of four photos show the newly shaped stem in place on the banded pipe. There was still a lot of work to do on the pipe including cleaning the internals and reworking the bowl and rim but the overall look of the “new” pipe is intriguing.
New band and stem in place.

New band and stem in place.

New band and stem in place

New band and stem in place

Bottom view of the newly banded and stemmed pipe

Bottom view of the newly banded and stemmed pipe

Top view of the new band and stem

Top view of the new band and stem


I have included one photo below to give you an idea of the shape of the new stem. I remove a lot of vulcanite to get it from its original round shape to the diamond shape pictured below. The fit and the angles match the shank perfectly. These older pipes are tricky to fit a diamond stem on because none of the sides of the diamond are the same dimensions. Each one is just slightly different so you have to do the fitting work with the stem in place on the shank.
View from the tenon end of the diamond stem at this point in the process.

View from the tenon end of the diamond stem at this point in the process.


With the stem fitting correctly it was time to tackle the bowl. I set up my board and emery paper so that I could top the bowl. The first photo shows the set up. The second photo shows the state of the bowl rim when I started the process.
Set up for topping the bowl

Set up for topping the bowl

Reamed and ready to top

Reamed and ready to top


Once I had it topped I decided to wipe it down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the finish and the grime from the topping. The next three photos show the clean bowl and the topped bowl. The finish work would take some time but the bowl was ready to move on to the next stage of rejuvenation.
Wiping down the bowl with acetone

Wiping down the bowl with acetone

Wiping down the newly topped rim with acetone

Wiping down the newly topped rim with acetone

Wiping down the bowl with acetone

Wiping down the bowl with acetone


I sanded the bowl with 240 and 320 grit sandpaper and finished sanding with a fine grit sanding sponge. The next two photos show the cleaned and prepped bowl ready for staining. The dark oil stains on the sides of the bowl would not come out. I wiped the bowl down with repeated washings of acetone and the surface was clean. I also sanded the stem with the sanding sponge while I worked on the bowl.
Bowl sanded, in place and ready to stain.

Bowl sanded, in place and ready to stain.

Bowl in place, sanded and ready to stain.

Bowl in place, sanded and ready to stain.


I decided to restain this old timer with an opaque oxblood aniline based stain. I wanted the opacity so that the dark stains would be minimized beneath the new stain and would eventually be blended in through smoking the pipe. I applied the stain and then flamed it. After flaming I hand buffed it to remove the excess stain. I also used a cotton pad and a dental pick to clean out the grooves on the bowl.
Stained with oxblood stain.

Stained with oxblood stain.

Stained with oxblood stain.

Stained with oxblood stain.


The next series of four photos shows the hand buffed bowl in place on the pipe base. The finish was matte at this point and still needed to be taken to the buffer to raise the shine. The third photo shows the rim. The surface is smooth but there is still damage to the inner edge of the rim. I chose to leave that without reworking it too much. I did not want to change the roundness of the inner bowl and decided that I could live with the nicks in the inner edge.
Left side of the pipe with a hand buff on the newly stained bowl.

Left side of the pipe with a hand buff on the newly stained bowl.

Right side of the newly stained bowl with a hand buffed surface.

Right side of the newly stained bowl with a hand buffed surface.

Top view of the hand buffed newly stained bowl.

Top view of the hand buffed newly stained bowl.

View of the underside of the bowl and Bakelite bowl base.

View of the underside of the bowl and Bakelite bowl base.


The next three photos show the pipe after I had buffed it with White Diamond. The bowl shines and the dark marks around the bowl show faintly beneath the finish but add a flair of character to the old pipe.
Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond


The next series of three photos are included to give an idea of the polishing process that went into bringing the stem work to completion. Again I invite you to read the post mentioned above on the transformation of a round saddle stem to a diamond shaped one to understand the full work that the shaping took to bring it to this place.
Stem sanded with 320 grit sandpaper

Stem sanded with 320 grit sandpaper

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Stem sanded with 320 grit sandpaper

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Stem sanded with micromesh sanding pads


Once I had finished polishing the stem with the various grades of micromesh from 1500-12,000 grit I took the pipe to the buffer once again and buffer the entirety with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it and to give it a deep shine. The next series of four photos show the finished pipe. It is ready to load up with a favourite tobacco and be gently sipped in the solitude of an afternoon on the porch.

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A WDC Milano Hesson Guard Reworked


I just worked over this old timer – A WDC Milano Hesson Guard. In order to know more about the pipe I was working on I searched for information regarding the patent number stamped on the pipe and went to the US Patent site where I found documentation. The patent was filed for it in 1932. It is an early example of the pipe. It is in the acorn shape. It has the patent number stamped on it as well as the other WDC labels. The triangle on the stem is silver or steel inlay. For me this is a part of the mystery of unpacking the history and life of the brand and mark. I always like to know as much of the back story as I can find on any of the pipes I refurbish. Patent numbers stamped on the pipe provide a means of ferretting out information on the design and the particular part of the pipe that is patented. I have included the patent site information on the pipe for your reading pleasure. At least to me this part is fascinating information.

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The pipe was caked with a crumbly thick cake that pretty much filled the bowl when I picked it up. I reamed it out to field dress the pipe. I generally do this with most of the pipes I bring home for renewal. It keeps the mess of the carbon from the cake outside and away from my work desk. In the photos below you can see that the finish was pretty dirty with a lot of hand oils and grease ground into the bowl surface. The rim was caked and tarred and it looked like it was damaged. The finish was worn and the stain faded in many places on the bowl sides. The stem was oxidized and had some bubbles in the surface along the button – the bubbles are visible near the button in the second photo below.

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I scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil soap, undiluted. I wipe it on with a cotton cloth and immediately wipe it off. Others have said that it removes the stain if left to long and it does indeed do that. But I have found it unsurpassed in quickly removing grime and grease if rubbed on and rubbed off quickly. I worked on the rim as well with a soft bristle tooth brush and the oil soap to remove the buildup. Once that was done I put it in the alcohol bath and removed the finish that was on it. It seemed to have had some built up waxes and also some kind of varnish coat over the stain. It came off with a bit of elbow grease after soaking. I decided to not stain this pipe as the briar looked great as it was. I just sanded it with the micromesh pads to polish it and remove the surface scratches. Then I took it to the buffer to give it a buff with White Diamond.

I worked on the stem while the bowl soaked in the bath. I soaked it in the Oxyclean mixture for a while to soften the oxidation. I dried it and buffed it with Tripoli to remove the surface oxidation. I sanded it with 240 grit sandpaper to get the deeper oxidation. I also had to lift a few tooth marks from the underside of the stem near the button. I used the heat gun to do that. The bubble on the top of the stem also was heated to try to smooth it out. It was evidently not a blister but a bump from teeth. It went back in place with the heat. I sanded the remaining signs of bite with 240 grit sandpaper and then 400 and 600 grit wet dry and water. I finished it with the normal regimen of 1500-6000 grit micromesh pads to polish. I put it back on the bowl and then gave the entirety a buff with White Diamond to polish it and finished the restoration with several coats of carnauba wax.

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