Restoring a GBD New Standard 4/271 London Made Straight Bulldog


When I was at the antique mall in Edmonton a few weeks ago I found this GBD straight bulldog. It is stamped GBD in an oval over New Standard on the left side of the shank and 4/271 London Made on the right side of the shank. The stem had the brass GBD roundel on the side of the saddle. The pipe was badly cake with a thick carbon build up. The rim had build up and was also damaged. There was darkening, whether burn or tar build up flowing down the crown of the bowl at the top all the way around the rim. The finish was worn and there was a black ink stain on the left side of the bowl down low toward the bottom. It looked like a hot spot when I first saw the pipe so I almost left it in the shop. I examined it under a bright light and could see that it was not a burn but a spot of what looked like India Ink. The stem was oxidized and there was tooth chatter on the top near the button and a tooth mark on the underside along with the chatter there. The button is different from most of my other GBD’s in that it is concave rather than convex. It is shaped like this “(“ looking at it from above.
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The photo below shows the stain on the bowl. I used a flash to highlight the nature of the stain. It was not solid but rather slightly opaque so that the grain could be seen through it. I thought it was worth a try to see if I could remove the ink from the briar.
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I reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet reamer starting with the smallest head and working up to the next head that fit the bowl.
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I dropped the bowl in an alcohol bath to soak for several hours and dropped the stem in a bath of Oxyclean.
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I left the stem in the Oxyclean while I worked on the bowl. I removed it from the bath and dried it off with a piece of cloth.
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I wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish that remained and scrubbed the ink stain. I sanded the bowl with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to finish removing the finish and also the ink stain. I lightly topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage to the outer edge of the rim.
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I used a piece of folded 220 grit sandpaper to work on the beveled inner edge of the rim. I wanted to repair the burn damage and take away the ridge left behind by the light topping of the bowl.
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I sanded the bowl where the stain was and with sanding and scrubbing with isopropyl alcohol I was able to remove the ink stain from the briar. The photo below shows the area that had previously been stained.
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I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol a final time to remove the sanding dust and grit from the twin rings on the bowl.
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I cleaned out the shank of the pipe with isopropyl and cotton swabs and when it was clean I took out the stem and dried it off. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I scrubbed the stem with Mequiar’s Scratch X2.0. I rubbed it onto the stem surface with my finger and scrubbed it off with cotton pads. The photos below show the stem after one application of the polish after about 2 hours of soaking in Oxyclean.
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I continued to scrub down the stem with the Meguair’s until the oxidation was gone. I sanded the areas where there was tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I put the stem on the pipe and took the photos below. I could not believe how easily the oxidation had come off the stem. There was still more polishing to do but the overall effect of the Oxyclean and the Meguiar’s was amazing to me
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Though there was still oxidation to work on I decided to stain the bowl. I used a dark brown aniline stain. I applied it, flamed it and repeated the process until the coverage was even.
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I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl to thin the stain down and make it more transparent. I repeated the wash until the stain was the colour I was aiming for. Then I scrubbed the stem some more with the Meguiar’s and was able to get the rest of the oxidation of the stem.
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I buffed the pipe with White Diamond – both bowl and stem being careful around the stamping so as not to damage it. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and shine. I buffed it a final time with a soft flannel buffing wheel. The finished pipe is pictured below. The colour on the green background appears redder than the pipe actually is. The wax and buffing did bring out the red highlights in the briar. It is more brown than red but the contrast is quite nice. The grain is visible through the stain. I am pleased with the finished look to the pipe. It is cleaned and restored and ready for the next chapter of the trust with me.
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A New Aspect of the Hobby (at least to me) – Tobacco Stamps


A part of this hobby that never crossed my purview was the collecting of old tobacco stamps. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that others would collect them but it never did. I have seen them on the old tins I have purchased and never given them much thought other than using them to date the tins. Then several years ago in a deal with Emil of Century stamps he sent me this mint tobacco tax stamp. We had corresponded and then eventually met at the Chicago Pipe Show. He had picked up some pipe from me and we had shared some bowls of tobacco and enjoyed the fellowship of the pipe. He had introduced me to his friend Mike who also bought a few pipes – even a birth year Dunhill purchased for him by his wife for his birthday. I knew Emil had a stamp shop in Mississauga, Ontario but I figured that was for postage stamps – something that I had collected as a lad and somehow laid aside in the business of adult life.

Then one day I was looking for a humidor for cigars and Emil had one that he said he would send me. It was a beautiful inlaid box that would take my meager cigar collection to a new level. Included in that package or maybe following it a short time later was a small package containing the Tobacco Tax Stamp pictured below.
Tax Stamp
Since receiving it I have done some reading on the internet regarding tax/excise stamps and found it really interesting. I found the link below when I was trying to date a tin of tobacco that I had found in an antique shop. It seems to be a living part of the stamp collecting hobby with cross over into the pipe and tobacco hobby.

http://www.canadarevenuestamps.com/product/search3.php?category=Tobacco+and+Liquor

These stamps give a feeling of another era, of a time when things moved more slowly. The look of the stamp in terms of colour and type hark back to another time. It is one, that at least in terms of the pipe and tobacco, sometimes I would not have mind living through.

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A Book Review – Weber’s Guide to Pipes and Pipe Smoking by Carl Weber


13139507 Probably one of the first books I picked up for my pipe library was Carl Weber’s Guide. It has a price tag on it from a used bookshop that I frequented in those days that dates it to June of 2002 and I paid a princely total of $4 for it. My copy is noted on the cover and the cover pages as An Original Edition though I am not sure what that means. It originally came out in 1963 ad copy is one that was reprinted in 1967 by the Cornerstone Library, New York City. Carl Weber was the Founder of Weber Briars, Inc. a company whose pipes have passed through my collection for the past 20 years. I remember finding this book in the book shop – way back in the far left corner of the shelves in the area of collectibles and hobbies. I had read of it but not seen a copy so I snatched it up and made it mine.

The table of contents is very straightforward as to what is covered by the book and as is true of most well written books it gives an outline of the topics covered between the covers of the book.
Table of Contents:
Forward
1. What is a pipe?
2. The Briar and the Meerschaum: The King and Queen of Pipes
3. Pipe Varieties
4. Selecting Your Pipe
5. Selecting Your Tobacco
6. The Art and Science of Pipe Smoking
7. How Briar Pipes are Made
8. Pipe Accessories
9. The Pipe as a Hobby
10. Questions and Answers About Pipes

To begin this quick review I want to quote three portions from Weber’s Forward to this little handbook. The first one sets the stage for his proposition that pipe smoking is a most pleasurable pastime. He writes:

“No one really knows why men smoke. Yet long before the discovery of tobacco, smoking had become the abiding joy of many peoples. Since tobacco’s discovery, smoking has truly become one of mankind’s most pleasurable pastimes.” – page 7

The next quote I find particularly poignant in a handbook on smoking. It calls the pipeman to treat his pipe well and it will treat him well. Oh how I wish that many of the owners of the old pipes I refurbish had read these words. He writes:

“The real pipe-smoker soon learns that pipe smoking is both an art and a science. The pipe responds to its owner with exactly the same treatment that it receives from him. The man who masters the techniques of pipe smoking is repaid by a satisfying smoke, a joy which he created for himself with his own hands.” – page 8

The last quote gives the stated purpose of the book in Weber’s own words: “The sole purpose of this book is to help the smoker achieve these rare moments of serenity, which are increasingly hard to come by in the accelerating pace of the modern world.” – page 8

Weber’s Guide can be divided into four major sections – each covering several chapters. These section divisions are my own and are not found in the book. I find that they help to organize and locate material for my quick reference.

Section 1: Chapters 1-3
The first three chapters cover the topic of the pipe. Chapter 1 begins by discussing what a pipe is in terms of constituent parts and what it is used for. It gives a brief history of pipes and tobacco that is truly no different from any other pipe book I have read over the years. It is written in Weber’s inimitable style and is a very accessible quick read. In Chapter 2 compares briar and meerschaum pipes which he calls the King and Queen of pipes. He gives a brief history of the development of both. He concludes this section in Chapter 3 by giving a survey of different types not found in the two main categories already covered: calabash, corn cobs, water pipes and clay pipes. The chapter ends with a brief survey of the field of pipes and concludes with these words; “Whatever your style of smoking, chances are that somewhere you’ll find a pipe to match it.” (page 42)
Throughout each section of the text there are line drawings and sketches to illustrate the point the Weber is making in that section. They break up the text and add interest to the reader.

Section 2: Chapters 4-5
The next two chapters are about how to select a pipe (Chapter 4) and a tobacco to smoke (Chapter 5). The selection of a pipe is very individual. As Weber says, “…it must first of all, fit your personality and character.” He adds another line that has fueled much discussion. He says that the pipe should “enhance” the appearance of the pipe smoker and not detract. He gives examples of how this works in his opinion. He goes on to discuss flaws in briar with helpful insights in how to understand these natural parts of the briar. He discusses pipe shapes and gives three pages of drawing of the various shapes of pipes that is very helpful. He includes a page of stem drawings to accompany his paragraphs on the type of stem that is used. Chapter 4 concludes with a discussion of filter, the personality of the piper and the prices that pipes are selling for. The paragraphs on pipe and personality are interesting and entertaining. He suggests standing in front of a mirror and trying to match the shape of the pipe to your own shape – this idea has also engendered much derision and discussion.

Chapter 5 on Tobacco Selection is a succinct and helpful tool to a person trying a pipe for the first time as well as to the seasoned veteran needing a quick refresher. It begins with a quick botany lesson on tobacco plants before going on to discuss the types of tobacco that are smoked and their taste to the smoker. He has descriptions and information on Burley, Virginia, Cavendish, Maryland, Latakia, Perique and Turkish tobacco. He discusses and offers a diagram of the four basic cuts of tobacco – cube cut, cut plug, long cut and granulated. He ends this chapter with two paragraphs on the art of blending tobacco to suit the tastes of the smoker.

Section 3: Chapters 6-7
The third major section of the book is about the use of the pipe and the manufacture of a briar pipe. Chapter 6 covers what Weber calls the Art and Science of Pipe Smoking and is a good general introduction to our hobby. It covers packing, lighting, and smoking a pipe. It talks about breaking in a pipe, enjoying it and maintaining it. Chapter 7 gives an overview verbally on the birth of a briar pipe from burl to finished product. That is followed by a pictorial spread showing the making of a pipe illustrating what has been said in the first portion of the chapter. It concludes with paragraphs on stem making and finishing the pipe before it leaves the factory to be held in the hands of the pipe smoker.

Section 4: Chapters 8-10
The final section picks up all of the extraneous details of pipe smoking that have not been covered in the rest of the book and are necessary to proper enjoyment of the hobby of pipe smoking. Chapter 8 covers accessories – pipe cleaners, sweeteners, humidors, tobacco pouches of various styles and layouts, pipe racks, ash trays, wind caps, pipe tools and other useful gadgets that fall outside of these wider categories. Chapter 9 on the pipe as hobby cover the pipe collecting aspect of the hobby and addresses the types of pipes that are collected from high-end to oddities – the better mouse trap version of pipes. It ends with a short treatise on how to evaluate pipes that are collected.

Chapter 10 is a Question and Answer section. It covers a wide range of topics that somehow capture many of the first questions that new pipe smokers ask. It is set up in a question and answer format and covers such topics as how to tell the difference between block meerschaum and pressed meerschaum, rehydrating tobacco, sweetening a pipe, repairing broken stems, tongue bite, the meaning of stampings such as Real Briar and Imported Briar, mixing tobacco blends, shapes and their effect on coolness of a smoke, proper moisture levels in tobacco, directions for reaming a pipe and the life expectancy of a briar pipe.

I believe that Weber did an admirable job of meeting his purpose as stated in his Foreward. While the book is not an exhaustive treatment of the topic it is comprehensive. His style of writing is inviting and makes this a very accessible and readable book. Copies of it are readily available online through such sources as Amazon.com and Abebooks. A quick search of the title will give you access to a wide range of copies and prices to match your budget. It is well worth the read and is a great book to have on hand for new pipemen you introduce to our hobby.

From the back cover.
back cover

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One Just for Fun – Restemming a Tall Stack Cob


In the grab bag from the antique mall was a tall corn cob bowl. It is not exactly a MacArthur style cob as it is designed with a weighted bottom portion of cob attached to the bowl. The bottom portion appears to be filled with Plaster of Paris. The drilling of the bowl went down into the bottom portion slightly. There was no shank or stem for the bowl in my box. The cob bowl itself was unsmoked and truly new stock. I have no idea how the stem came to be lost but my guess is that the glue dried out and the stem and shank became unattached and somehow separated from the bowl. I looked at it when I opened the grab bag and almost threw it away. It was definitely not my style of pipe and with a stack that tall it would take hours to smoke a bowl. But I carried it home and it sat in the box until yesterday.

Last evening I was looking at some parts that were collecting dust on my work table – a piece of briar shank that I had liberated from a destroyed bowl, a cocobolo wood stem extension with a tenon turned on each end and a long stem that was without a tenon. I took out the cob bowl and laid out the parts next to each other. I thought to myself that it might be fun to put all the pieces together and see what I could do with them.
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It took very little sanding for the tenon on the cocobola extension to fit into the piece of briar. I sanded the other side of the extension and drilled out the end of the stem until the tenon fit into the stem as well.
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I mixed a batch of two part epoxy and glued the tenon extension to the stem and sanded the extension to fit the diameter of the stem. This took a bit of time as the extension was square and the stem round. But once the sanding was done it fit well and the transition was smooth. Then I debated on what to do with the briar piece. I could set it in the cob bowl and have a removable stem or I could attach it to the stem and make it a permanent feature. Looking at the size and weight of the bowl it seemed to make sense to make the stem one piece. I did not want to risk having the stem split the piece of briar or have the bowl fall off and damage the briar. So I used the epoxy to glue the briar to the stem as well.
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I sanded the briar with a Dremel to remove the excess material and to get it close to the same diameter as the stem extension. Once it was close I hand sanded the entire new extension with 220 grit sandpaper and medium and fine grit sanding sponges to make the joints between the materials seamless. The photo below shows the stem sanded and ready to insert into the cob bowl. I really liked the way the stem and extensions had turned out. The cocobolo band looked good against the briar on one side and the black vulcanite on the other.
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I drilled out the hole in the side of the cob to get a good snug fit of the shank to the bowl. I decided not to extend it as deeply into the bowl as the old shank had been but rather to extend it through the wall and then raise the bottom of the bowl with more Plaster of Paris. I glued the shank into the bowl with all purpose white glue.
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I used a dental pick to push glue deep into the joint of the stem and bowl before setting it aside to dry. I wanted the joint to dry solid with no gaps in the sides for air to enter or to weaken the connection.
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In the morning after the glue had dried all night I sanded the stem with a fine grit sanding sponge and then micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I also decided to stain the stem extension with some cherry Danish Oil and then sanded the extension to polish it.
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The stem was slightly twisted from age and sitting too long so I set up the heat gun and heated it until it straightened. Once it was straight I carefully bent it over my buffing motor to get a slight bend in the end of the stem.
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I buffed the stem carefully with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and give it a shine. I buffed the cob and stem with a soft flannel buff to finish the look and polish both bowl and stem. The finished pipe is pictured below. It was a fun experience to work with the various materials and see what I could craft with them. The joining of the shank extensions was part of my ongoing “education” in bonding materials together using the tenon to give strength to the joint. While the pipe is ungainly and huge it nonetheless has a certain charm and elegance to it. Whether I ever use it or just have it sitting in the cupboard as decoration working on it provided me with great lessons and several hours of enjoyment.
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I Had Heard of Royalton but not of the Smoke-Control Deluxe


In my antique mall grab bag was the bowl that is pictured below. It is stamped on the left side of the shank, Royalton over Smoke-Control over Deluxe and on the right side of the shank, Selected Briar over Pat. No.2326658. I had heard of Royalton pipes and have cleaned up a few of them in the years that have gone by. But I had never heard of the Smoke-Control or the Smoke-Control Deluxe. Obviously it was a system pipe of sorts, one of those creative ideas that lasted about as long as its maker. It never seemed to have caught on because in all the years I have been hunting and refurbishing pipes I have never come across one even to walk by in my prowls of thrift, junk or rummage shops. It was a brand unknown to me.

The bowl was in excellent shape and had not even been smoked to the bottom of the bowl. The bottom half of the bowl was bare briar. The top half was darkened but not carbonized at all. It was for all intents and purposes a new pipe. The shank was clean and contained a strange metal apparatus that filled the mortise and then stepped down to fill the airway all the way to the smoke hole in the bottom of the bowl. It was aluminum, the first ¼ inch was smooth and then it had threads that went to the bottom of the mortise. The airway was smooth. The finish on the bowl was non-existent. Whatever stain or coating had been on the bowl was no long present. The stamping was crisp and readable. There were no fills in the briar but there was a nice swirling mix of grain all around the bowl. The rim was clean and showed no burn or dent marks. The pipe was missing the stem. Judging from the mortise the stinger apparatus on this stem must have been a unique looking piece of hardware.
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Since I had no idea what I was working on I decided to do a bit of digging on the internest and see if I could find out about the brand and kind of stem and stinger apparatus that it had. I wanted to know what the patent on the shank covered so that once I had a clear picture in mind I could hunt down a stem or work on one that would fit the shank in the meantime. I found out that Royalton pipes were manufactured by Henry Leonard & Thomas, Inc. (HLT) of Ozone Park, New York. HLT manufactured other brands as well including Dr.Grabow, Bruce Peters, Broadcaster and Vox Pop. I found on Pipephil’s logos page the two photos below that showed the stamping on the stem and the shank. The stamping on the bowl I had was a Smoke-Control with a hyphen rather than the one picture below and also was a Deluxe rather than a Supreme.
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royalton1bMine was also stamped Selected Briar instead of Imported Briar. I could see that the stem had an aluminum faux band that sat between the stem and shank.
So far I had learned the manufacturer and the stamping on the stem and the faux band. I had not seen the stem. I did a bit more digging and found several advertisements that showed more of the stem. The first is from Popular Mechanics and it gave a clear description of the purpose of the pipe as well as the meaning of the Smoke-Control feature. The pipe had an adjustable valve that regulated the daft on the smoke to match personal taste and preference.
Smoke Control Advert
This advertisement spoke of both the Supreme Grade and the Deluxe grade of the pipe. The stinger that is shown in the picture could have been similar to the one in the bowl that I had found but it was not quite the same in terms of the sketched in lines on the shank of the top pipe in the picture. My bowl’s interior was different from the one in the picture so the stinger apparatus too must have been slightly different in the one I found. I went to the US Patent web site and did some more research and found the Patent Number of the pipe that I had. There was a description and a diagram of the pipe. The patent was taken out on August 10. 1943 by Arthur Koenigsamen of Jamaica, New York, assigner to Henry Leonard & Thomas Inc. of Ozone Park, New York. Reading the patent data, I am struck by the familiar hunt to develop a better smoking pipe to deliver a dry and cool smoker to the mouth of the pipe smoker and to make pipe smoking more appealing to those who might not try it otherwise. Have a look at the details of the patent and pay attention to each part of the apparatus in the shank and on the end of the stem. There are some unique features that are not visible in the pipe that is shown in the advertisement from Popular Mechanics.
Smoke Control Patent Page 1

Smoke Control Patent page 2

Smoke Control Patent photo
The stem in the above drawing in Fig. 2 shows the tenon that would fit in the mortise in the bowl I have. It is threaded about mid-tenon with three bands. Before and after the threaded portion the tenon is smooth. The apparatus goes into the stem as well, Fig. 3, in a way that was not shown in the advertisement above. It appears that there is a cooling reservoir in the stem that traps moisture and delivers a cool smoke out the wide slot in the end of the stem. The mortise in the bowl I have looks exactly like the one in Fig. 5 and screwed onto the tenon in Fig. 4. The shank on the bowl that I have is set up precisely like the nipple unit in Fig. 5. It is aluminum and set in the shank. I have included the photo below showing and end view of the shank to show what the insert looks like. You can see the flat area, the step up to the threaded portion and then the step up to the airway just as is shown in Fig. 5 above.
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My problem was that the bowl did not come with the unique stem unit that fit the shank. I tried several older Dr. Grabow stems and a Kaywoodie stem that I had here and the threads did not match those found in the shank. I had a choice to make, save the bowl until I found a stem someday by chance or to try to work on a stem and jerry-rig it to fit the shank system. I figured I had nothing to lose so I chose to work on a stem. I had just the right stem in my can of stems. It was a chubby stem from an Orlik pipe and the tenon was already shaped partially for a shank like this. The end of the tenon was slightly smaller in diameter than the portion of the tenon next to the stem itself.
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I slowly turned the vulcanite stem into the metal mortise, being careful to hold the stem straight as I turned it in place. I figured that by doing so I could score the vulcanite with the metal threads of the mortise and in so doing tap thread the tenon on the vulcanite. Low and behold it worked. The stem fit tightly against the face of the shank. The diameter of the stem would need to be adjusted but otherwise the fit was good.
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I carefully sanded the stem and the shank avoiding the stamping. I did not want to damage the stamping on either side of the shank. I sanded with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and fine grit sanding sponge. I sanded the rest of the bowl and the rim as well. When I finished the fit of the stem at the shank was smooth.
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I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove any remnants of the original finish on the bowl and to remove the sanding dust.
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At this point in the process things were going too well! Everything was working without a hitch and the pipe was looking really good. This is when things inevitably take a turn for the worse and they certainly did in this case. I unscrewed the stem from the shank in preparation for staining the bowl. I wanted to clean out any briar dust that was trapped between the stem and the shank. I cleaned out the dust and blew air through the mortise. I then slowly and carefully screwed the stem back in place in the shank. They no longer lined up! The fit of the stem against the face of the shank was not tight. The smooth transition between the shank and stem was no longer there. The fit was not right. I took the stem off and examined the mortise and tenon. I could see that the insert in the shank had definitely been pushed deeper into the mortise. When I started it was even with the face of the end of the shank and now it was sunk in and the mortise bevel showed as it probably should have from the start. Arggghhh. Now the fit was off and the diameter of the stem would have to be corrected again. The big problem was that the way the stem fit against the end of the shank was no longer perfect. There was a gap that I could not correct no matter what I did in adjusting the insert or the stem.

I decided that I would have to band the shank, not as a repair on a bad shank but as a cosmetic measure to clean up the fit of the stem and the shank end. This irritates me to no end in that as you could tell from the above photos it was perfect! Ah well so goes the life of the pipe refurbisher who is restemming old pipes with replacement stems. I adjusted the diameter of the shank to fit the flow of the shank without the band. Once again it was round and smooth. If there had not been a gap at the bottom of the shank/stem union a band would not have been necessary. I looked through my box of bands and found a band that would fit and not go to deeply up the shank as to cover the stamping. I found just the right band. I put all purpose white glue on the shank and pressed the band in place. Once the glue had set I screwed the stem on to the shank and lined everything up. The fit and finish of the stem and shank looked good. I actually liked the band on the shank as it broke the line between the shank and the stem and added a bit of bling to look of the old bowl. I guess I can live with the look of the pipe after all. It is not what I wanted when I started but it would do.
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I wiped down the bowl with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to remove any excess glue that had seeped out around the band and removed grime from my finger prints on the bowl. I gave the bowl a first coat of dark brown aniline stain thinned 1:1 with alcohol. I flamed the stain and then wiped it down with an alcohol pad. I buffed it with White Diamond to see what the finish looked like with the brown stain. While I liked the look, the mottled look of the grain seemed to need some more colour and contrast to make it look right. I was not sure what I would use for a top coat so I set it aside and worked on the stem.
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I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation that remained after cleaning and then sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. Once I had finished this I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads. Several times mid stream I went back and sanded with the sanding sponges and started over with the pads to clean up places where the scratching still showed or where the oxidation was stubborn. When I finished with the first three pads I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil and screwed it back on the bowl.
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Now most of you probably would have just finished sanding the stem with the remaining micromesh pads but not me. I got distracted with the stem back on the bowl and decided to give it the second coat of stain. I took it to the buffer and buffed the bowl and the stem with Tripoli and White Diamond before going back to the work table to give it a second coat of stain. For the second coat of stain I decided to use an aniline based oxblood stain. The rich read colour would go well with the mottled grain of the bowl. I applied the stain, flamed it, applied it again and flamed it again as often as necessary to get an even finish. Once it was dry I wiped it down with an alcohol wet pad to remove the excess stain and make it more transparent. I buffed it with White Diamond. This stain coat had the desired effect and I liked the finished look of the bowl.
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I took the photo below to show the threads that were cut into the vulcanite tenon to give an idea of what the finished tenon looked like after all was said and done. The fit in the mortise is snug and the stem screws into the mortise easily.
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I went back to sanding the stem with the remaining grits of micromesh pads. I dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads and once again had to go back and sand with the sanding sponges near the button to deal with the stubborn oxidation. This involved having to start over with wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads but once I had finished the oxidation was gone. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil again and when it was absorbed into the vulcanite I buffed the stem and bowl with White Diamond.
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I polished the nickel band with silver polish and gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and give it a shine. When finished I buffed it with a soft flannel buffing pad and brought it back to the work table for the final photos. The old Smoke-Control Deluxe is back in action. The bowl looks great; the stem works even though it is not original. The band gives just the pipe an air of elegance that I had not expected. I look forward to breaking it in and enjoying a smoke in what for all intents and purposes is a new old stock bowl.
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Posted in Pipe and Tobacco Historical Documents, Pipe Refurbishing Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Refurbishing another Old Pal – this time a Long Oval Shank Billiard


I just finished cleaning up another of the old pipes I picked up in my antique mall grab bag. It is a dainty pipe with an oval shank. When it came out of the grab bag it had a cracked shank and did not have a stem in the shank so I assumed it was a Canadian. When I went over the stems in the bag I found that one of them was stamped Old Pal. It fit the shank well and the look was quite unique. The stem was broken at the button with a large chunk on one side missing. The overall length is 5 ¾ inches and the weight is negligible. It is stamped on top of the shank in arc – Old Pal, over an Eagle with spread wings and then underneath Made in France.

opOn the underside of the shank it is stamped 396 which I assume is the shape number. The shape number appears to be a GBD number but it is not included in the list on the Perdua shape number website. The stamping is faint but still readable. I wrote about the history of the brand in a previous post (https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/restemming-and-refurbishing-a-planter-opera-pipe/) But will summarize it again here for those who may not go back and read it.

“Who Made That Pipe” states that there were two French makers for Old Pal. The first of those is Marechal Ruchon and Cie. (Incidentally it is the company that owned the GBD brand). The second maker listed is Rubinovich & Haskell Ltd. The bird emblem is probably the key, but I can find no reference to it. My own thinking is that the brand was made by Marechal Ruchon & Cie. I was able to dig up this brief summary of the MR&C brand. Ganeval, Bondier and Donninger began making pipes in 1850 and rapidly gained prominence in briar pipe making. Of the three, Bondier survived the others by 30 years, but new partners took their places. The name of the company changed to Bondier Ulrich & Cie, then Bine Marechal & Cie and finally to A Marechal, Ruchon & Cie. August Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon saw the firm into the 20th century, their names being used for the company for well over 50 years.

Prior to 1899, Marechal, Ruchon & Co. became A. Oppenhiemer’s sole agent for cigarette papers but still remained in the pipe making business. Then in 1902, Marechal, Ruchon & Co., owners of GBD and referred to as French pipe makers, merged with A. Oppenhiemer. In the 1915 London Directory of briar pipe makers one will find: “”Marechal, Ruchon & Co. – 38 Finsbury Sq. E.C.; London works, 15 & 16 Featherstone St. E.C. and Oppenhiemer, A. & Co. – 38 Finsbury Sq. E.C. listed separately.

As before with that background information remembered I worked on this old pipe to clean it up and restore it. When I picked it up the bowl was badly caked. The rim was dirty and the outer edge had been knocked about pretty hard to remove the dottle of the past. The inner bevel was tarred but still in pretty good shape. The right side of the pipe had no fills or real damage. It was a nice birdseye under the grime. The left side had two fills of pink putty in the midst of some very nice grain. The grain on the rest of the bowl was a mix of cross grain and swirling grain. The finish was worn with some paint marks on the top of the shank. The stem was oxidized and had been broken with a large chunk missing at the button on the right side. The shank was cracked but the joint with the stem was smooth and tight. The tenon fit snug in the mortise with no gap in the junction. The shank and airway were dirty and tarry.
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I have included the photo below as it clearly shows the crack in the shank, the broken stem and the stamping on the shank of the pipe.
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I debated whether to cut off the stem or to just restem the pipe with a Canadian stem. I looked at it with a small stem and then with this stem and decided to cut off the stem. I used a Dremel and a sanding drum to remove the broken part of the stem and even out the line of the end of the stem.
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I took it back to the work table and reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer. I reamed the cake back to bare briar so that I could work on the damage to the inner edge of the rim.
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I took out my box of assorted nickel bands and found one that was the correct diameter and squeezed it until it was an oval. I dripped super glue into the open crack and pressed it together to dry. Then I heated the band with a heat gun and pressed it on to the cracked shank.
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I used a folded piece of sandpaper to sand the tenon slightly so that it fit snugly in the shank. The fit of the stem to the band and shank looked good so that part of the job was finished.
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I set up the topping board and the 220 grit sandpaper and topped the bowl to remove the damaged rim. I used a folded piece of sandpaper to bevel the inner edge of the rim inward like it had been originally.
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I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove the finish and the spots of white paint that were on the top of the shank. I repeated the wash until the finish was clean and then wiped it down again with isopropyl alcohol.
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With work on the bowl at a good stopping point I decided to do some work on the stem. I had to cut a new button and taper the stem toward the new button. There would have to be shaping done as well opening the slot on the end of the stem. I used a rasp to cut the edge on the lip of the button and to sand down the taper of the stem. I used a series of needle files to further shape the button and the taper.
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I cleaned up the taper and the button with a sanding board that I picked up at a beauty supply house. It makes the edge clean and works well to even the taper on the stem.
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The hole in the end of the new button was elongated and oval but needed to be opened more and made into a “Y” shaped slot whose inner edges tapered toward the airway and the slot shaped like an eye – open enough to take a pipe cleaner without any difficulty. I used three different needle files to open the slot. The first was a round file, followed by an oval file and ending with a flat oval that worked well to cut the edges of the slot.
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I sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to smooth out the surface on the stem and also to bevel the edge of the button toward the slot.
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With the interesting grain pattern and the fills on the side of the bowl I decided to use a dark brown aniline stain. I applied it with a dauber and then flamed it. I applied it and flamed it a second time to make sure the coverage was even.
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When the stain was dry I wiped down the bowl and shank with isopropyl alcohol on cotton pads to remove the top coats of the stain and make it more transparent.
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I sanded the bowl with a fine grit sanding sponge and then wiped it again with the alcohol to clean off the dust. I gave it a second coat of a medium walnut stain as a top coat.
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I buffed the top coat of stain with White Diamond and then brought it back to the work table and took the following pictures. The angles on the stem are looking good. The shape of the button and the taper of the stem worked well with the pipe.
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I sanded the stem with medium and fine grit sanding pads and then applied some liquid white out to the stamping on the stem to try to make it stand out more clearly. I sanded the stem with my usual array of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads.
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I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and when it was dry buffed the stem and bowl with White Diamond and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and preserve it. I finished by buffing it with a soft, flannel buff. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The newly shaped stem came out fairly well. I like the overall look of the finish and the band on the pipe. It is ready to join the other Old Pal in the rack.
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Posted in Pipe Refurbishing Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Restemming and Refurbishing a Planter Opera Pipe


This is the fourth bowl that I chose to work on from the antique mall lot. It had some great potential to clean up well as it was by far one of the least damaged of the bowls. It is stamped Planter over Made in France on the left side of the shank. There is no other stamping on the bowl or shank. There is no shape size or numbering on the shank. The right side is unmarked. I looked it up online and did not find any maker for the pipe. Pipephil did not have in on his logos and stampings pages nor did any of the other sites I frequent when searching for info online. I turned to my books and found out from “Who Made That Pipe” that the brand was made by Comoy’s in France. I checked Lopes book and it was not listed. The bowl itself was pretty clean on the inside and the interior of the shank was also clean. It barely looked to have been smoked. There were a few remnants of unsmoked tobacco on the walls of the bowl. On the exterior, one side of the bowl was clean and the other was covered with a greasy, dirty buildup. There was some nice looking grain under the grit and grime – both birdseye and cross grain. It looked like it would clean up nicely. There was one small fill on the right side of the bowl. The metal band was tarnished and yellow. The bowl did not come with a stem when I bought it at the antique mall.
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I went through my can of stems and found one that would fit with very minimal adjustments. I sanded the tenon with a folded piece of sandpaper and it fit well against the shank. There were some issues on the diameter of the stem. It appeared that it was slightly out of round on the right side. It would need to be sanded on the right side, top and bottom for a perfect fit.
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The band was not totally in place on the shank. It had slid toward the end of the shank over the years so I needed to heat it and press it into place. The benefit to this was that it heated up the yellow buildup on the band and it came off quite easily with some silver polish/metal cleaner. I scrubbed the band with some Hagerty Tarnish Preventative Silver Polish that I bought years ago at a jewelry shop. It removed the tarnish and oxidation and with repeated scrubbing it cleaned out the tarnish in the hallmarks.

I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the greasy buildup on the right side of the bowl and shank. I followed that up with a wipe down of isopropyl alcohol to finish removing the grime. I sanded the stem on the right side to remove the excess vulcanite and make it line up with the band. I always look at the end view of the pipe and see if the diameter of the stem matches the edge of the band that it will sit against. I strive to make it the same all the way around as I think it looks better when done that way. I used 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to get the fit right. In the photos below the pipe is shown after all the scrubbing and fitting of the stem.
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You can see from the few steps taken with the pipe that it was a very simple clean up. It took more time to fit the stem that it did to clean up the bowl and band. I gave it a quick buff with White Diamond before working on the stem. I took it back to the work table and sanded the stem with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge (the pink square pictured above is one of those sponges). I then sanded the bowl and stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads.
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I finished by rubbing down the stem with Obsidian Oil and when it had been absorbed into the stem I buffed the stem and bowl with White Diamond. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and give it a shine. I finish with a soft flannel buffing pad on the buffer. The finished pipe is pictured below. Sometime today I will load a bowl and give it a smoke.
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Posted in Pipe Refurbishing Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Restoring an old Harlequin Pipe and Trying to Unravel the Mystery of its Origin


When I saw this old pipe on eBay something about it caught my eye. I could see that it was structurally sound. There were no cracks or significant problems with the bowl or shank. The rim was dirty and the bowl very caked but there did not appear to be any damage to the surface of the rim. The outer edge had been tapped out a few times and showed some minor denting around the bowl. There were some gouges/scratches on the left side of the bowl. It looked as if a sharp instrument had scored the briar. There were some dark stains on the briar that easily could have been burn marks but did not appear to be so from the photos. These stains were on the underside of the shank near the junction of the shank and stem on the left side, on the lower right side of the right side and on the lower left side of the front of the bowl. It looked like stains in the grain rather than burns in the photos so I took a chance on it. The stem looked like it was grey/silver Lucite in the photos and that also intrigued me. The tobacco juices had stained the airway dark. Other than that the stem appeared to be undamaged and would be a pretty easy clean up.
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The stamping on the shank was the mystery to me. I had never heard of Harlequin pipes and this one was clearly stamped Harlequin in block letters over Made in England. I wanted to see what I could find out about the brand so I went to my usual sources of information. I checked in “Who made that Pipe” by Wilczak and Colwell and “Pipes Artisans and Trademarks by Lopes to see if either of them identified the maker. Both books had nothing listed for the brand. I went on the British Trademark site and read through many of the listings for Harlequin and found that the name was used by many companies for things from wallpaper to graphics design. There were lines of greeting cards, children’s toys and clothing all bearing that name. I found nothing listed that hinted that the pipes were a registered name. I posted on several online forums that I frequent to see if anyone had any ideas. Several folks on the forums recalled that Gallaher’s Tobacco Limited in Ireland had made a tobacco for years called Harlequin. I did some research to see if they had made pipes.
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As I dug through various sites on the hunt for information I received some responses on the forums. One person responded that several English tobacco brands also sold pipes – St. Bruno for one did that. Another respondent on Smokers Forums, Chris (flatticus) posted a couple of links to Gallaher’s that confirmed that they had not only made tobacco products but had made pipes or had them made. He included this information:

Ok, so Gallaher’s made at least some pipes into the early 70′s. And according to this link: http://books.google.com/books?id=LAO…20pipe&f=false

They made a Balkan Sobranie pipe. Or at least intended to enough to register the trademark, and along with the trademark for the tobacco itself. Certainly adds a bit of credence to the idea of a tobacco and pipe sharing the same brand name and stamp.

I have included the information cited above from the link to Google books – the Kenya Gazette and have posted it below. In correspondence from E.G. Bunyassi, Assistant Registrar of Trade Marks he clearly states under the heading of Balkan Sobranie that Gallaher’s Limited, a company organized under the laws of the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland had made cigarettes, pipe tobacco and pipes.
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I asked on the forum whether anyone knew whether the company made pipes. Chris (flatticus) responded again with the following information:

Interesting question, I don’t honestly know, but Gallaher’s used that trademark for like 70 years, and they were a big, big company. Actually from Northern Ireland, and had the biggest tobacco factory in the world in 1896 in Belfast, didn’t completely disappear until they were bought out by Japan Tobacco in 2007, but before that had a distribution conglomerate with RJ Reynolds for their cigarettes and were pretty gigantic. But they didn’t let the Harlequin mark until at least after 1963, when they last registered it. If I had to guess, they probably let it die after 1969 when American Brands, who I think owns Lucky Strike and similar brands, bought them out. They let the mark expire in 1980, but I see no record of anyone else buying it, and apparently it’s still available.

So, blindly guessing, I’d be surprised if anyone had the guts to use the same mark in a same or similar industry other than Gallaher’s. At least not in Ireland or the Commonwealth. But, that said, I can’t find a record or advertisement suggesting they ever made a pipe. However, I did find this thread, containing a quote from Gallaher himself talking about making pipes as a possible future avenue to address the “aging” nature of pipe smokers. http://christianpipesmokers.net/modu…wtopic&t=24081

Perhaps this was part of the “pipe renaissance” project he was talking about, made to get new pipe smokers interested. I checked harlequin ads, there a few vintage ones out there in images, but none of them referenced a pipe, just the tobacco. But the idea of a free pipe with tobacco, or at least a cheap or, as he put it, “disposable” pipe does seem to fit nicely with his intention there. Any way you slice it, though, it’s a nice bit of mystery to ponder. One of my favorite things about estate pipes, hands down.

In another link there was information on the Gallaher Company. I copied that information and have posted it below. It makes an interesting read in terms of history of this old brand. I have one chunk of Gallaher’s Irish Roll Cake here that is a good strong smoke. I also have some of their other tobaccos in my cellar but sadly it is no more. I think the likelihood is that the Harlequin pipe was made by them and matched the Harlequin Tobacco blend they sold.
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Once the pipe arrived I unpacked it and took it to the work table to begin the clean up. I was surprised that the stem was not grey but in real life almost a light green with heavy black tars in the airway. There were also some tooth marks on the top and bottom of the stem that would need to be repaired. The fit of the stem to the shank was snug and smooth. The bowl was badly caked and the rim covered with thick tar. The bowl had some deep gouges that had appeared in the photos on eBay but they were not as deep as I expected. The grain was far better than I expected. Underneath the dark marks, which appear to be ink stains rather than burn marks was some beautiful cross grain and birdseye as well as mixed grain. It would look beautiful when it was cleaned up and refinished. There were several spots on the briar that had large sticky spots of a glue-like substance.
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I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake. It was surprisingly soft and crumbly. I took it back to a very thin cake to form the base for a new cake.
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I set up a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to clean off the build up on the rim. It was hard and no matter how hard I scrubbed it, it would not come off. The outer edges of the rim were also damaged from knocking out the bowl after smoking. The light topping would smooth out the edge damage and minimize the effect without changing the look of the bowl.
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I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the ink and sticky build up on the finish. I also decided to remove the finish so I scrubbed it until the majority of the finish was gone.
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I cleaned the stem with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. I was able to scrub out the airway and the slot in the button removing the stains. I also scrubbed the end of the tenon to clean out the staining there. I scrubbed the mortise with alcohol and cotton swabs as well until they came out clean. The internals were cleaned and smelled fresh rather than smelling like old aromatic tobacco.

Once it was clean, I tried to steam out the gouges in the bowl but they would not lift. I could have sanded them out but that would have changed the profile of the bowl so I opted on repairing them with super glue and briar dust.
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I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and then followed that by sanding with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to blend the surface of the fill with the rest of the surrounding bowl. After sanding the fills I sanded the entire bowl with the medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the rest of the finish on the bowl. I carefully worked around the stamping so as not to damage it.
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I used clear superglue to repair the deep tooth marks on the top and bottom sides of the stem near the button. The bottom repair can be seen in the photo below. I later sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and the sanding sponges to blend it into the stem surface.
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I decided to use the contrast stain process I have been working on to highlight the grain on this beautiful pipe. I gave it an under coat of black aniline stain. I used a Delrin tenon for a handle in the shank to be able to turn the bowl while I was staining. I applied the stain, flamed it, applied it and flamed it again until the coverage was even.
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When the stain had dried I sanded it with a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the surface stain while leaving the grain highlighted with the black. I wiped it down repeatedly with isopropyl alcohol on cotton pads to check and see what the grain was looking like after sanding. This process took far longer than the staining and initial preparation. I sanded and washed, sanded and washed the bowl and shank until the grain stood out against the briar.
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I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit to further remove the black stain that was stubbornly sticking in the angles of the bowl and shank. I then gave the bowl a top coat of oxblood stain. My thinking was that the contrast between the black in the grain and the red in the other portions of the briar would make the grain stand out.
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When the oxblood stain dried I dry sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to remove some more of the dark stain and make the grain stand out even more. I rubbed the bowl down with olive oil and used it as a medium for the sanding. It worked well to remove the darker areas of the bowl near the shank and along the top edge and rim.
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After sanding I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed the bowl and stem with White Diamond to polish the briar and the Lucite stem. I had previously sanded the stem repairs with the sanding sponges to remove the bump of the glue and blend it into the surface. I followed that with sanding the stem with all grits of micromesh from 1500-12000. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and polish it. I finished by buffing the pipe with a clean soft flannel buffing pad. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is cleaned, stained and ready to smoke. I am really pleased with the finished look of the pipe. The yellow mother of pearl looking stem works well with the contrast stain on the bowl.
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Posted in Pipe and Tobacco Historical Documents, Pipe Refurbishing Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Journey from a Sad Apple to a Handsome Prince


In my antique mall grab bag there was an antique apple shaped pipe with an ornate end cap. It was a mix of brass and silver and had a fascinating look – at least to me. I liked it from the get go. The problem was the damage to the bowl was extensive. It truly was a mess with chunks of briar missing and cracks and crevices on the rim as well as in the upper portion of the bowl. So I looked through some of the bowls I have here to see if I had one that the end cap would fit but none were to be found. Lots of reshaping and changes would have had to be done to make any of the bowls I had work so I revisited the damaged bowl and did a few measurements on it to if I could remove the damage and still have anything left that was worth the work.
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After measuring the bowl I figured that I could convert it from an apple/brandy shape to a prince shape. If you look at most prince shapes you can easily imagine how it would have looked as an apple or a ball shaped pipe. It is not hard to see the prince as a cut down apple. I also looked through my stems and found an older military push stem that would give it a princely look. The end of the stem would need to be turned down slightly to fit in the metal end cap of the shank.
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I decided to start with a conservative approach to the reduction of the height of the bowl and the removal of the damaged briar first. I have learned that it is easy to remove briar but next to impossible to put it back once it has been removed. I set up the topping board and began to turn the bowl into the 220 grit sandpaper to work back the rim. After about ten minutes of work I could see that it would take me all night to hand sand it back to the height I wanted to work with. There had to be a better way to get it close and then finish the topping with the sandpaper and board.
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I decided to use a Dremel to remove most of the damaged briar, carefully working to keep it as close to flat as possible – a trick with a Dremel and a sanding drum but it worked fairly well. I took back all of the damage on ¾ of the bowl rim and left a slight amount on the front ¼. The rim would be thick and I would be able to rework the inner edge to bring it back to round with folded sandpaper.
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I took the bowl back to my worktable and used the topping board to flatten out the rim. The flattened rim is pictured in the photos below. I also used a rasp to trim down the taper of the bit so that it would fit in the metal end cap. The rest of the fine tuning of the stem would be done by hand with sandpaper and small files.
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I sanded the stem taper so that the fit was snug in the shank of the metal end cap and shank. The build on this old pipe was interesting. When I first got it I was able to remove the end cap. The shank had been cut quite short and then flattened so that a stem would sit in the end cap and be pressed against the end of the shank. I worked on the stem to achieve that result so that the stem sat flush against the end of the shank. With the stem fit correctly it was time to do some work on the bowl.
I decided to use some briar dust and super glue to repair some of the deep cuts in the briar. I cleaned out the cuts in the surface of the rim as well as the surface cracks that remained with a dental pick. I wiped down the surface with isopropyl alcohol and scored the areas that would be repaired so that the fill would bond well with the briar. I packed in briar dust with the dental pick and then dripped the super glue into place. I always overfill my patches so that when dry they are not sunken.
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When the patches dried I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to bring the surface of the patch to the same height and shape as the surrounding briar. This process is kind of like sculpting and once it was done I reshaped the outer edge of the bowl and did some work on the inner edge as well. The photos below show the look of the pipe at this point in the process. The handsome prince is beginning to emerge from the ashes of the old bowl.
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I decided to use a two step staining process to better blend in the fills and repairs to the bowl. They would still be visible but not stand out as the first thing that was noticed when looking at the bowl. I used a black under stain first. I heated the briar with a heat gun to warm it and open out the “pores” in the wood to take the stain well. I applied it heavily, flamed and repeated the process until I had good coverage on the bowl. Once it was dry I sanded the bowl to remove the majority of black stain. It remained in the grain and I left it a bit heavy around the top edge of the bowl and rim. I wanted it to have a shadow like look in those areas.
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I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the final bit of black and the sanding dust that was left behind from my work. I gave it several coats of oxblood stain as a topcoat. My thinking was that the deep red of the oxblood stain would set off the black under stain and provide an interesting contrast look to the finish.
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I buffed the bowl and stem with Red Tripoli and White Diamond to see where things stood in terms of the colour and coverage on the bowl. I took it back to the worktable and sanded it with micromesh pads to smooth out the finish on the bowl. I still needed to do some more work on the rim and the stem at this point but the finish on the bowl was getting to the place where it was looking good.
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I sanded the stem with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the scratches and smooth out the transition from the part of the stem that sat in the end cap and the remainder of the stem. I followed that by sanding with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil once I had finished the sanding.
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The polish on the stem needed a bit more work to remove some of the scratches that still remained but I left that for the moment and decided to give the stem a slight bend. I set up a heat gun and heated the vulcanite until it was pliable. I bent it over a rolling pin that I use for doing this. I find that I get a more even bend when I use the pin as the base for bending.
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I took it back to the worktable to examine the repair on the front of the bowl more closely and to also do more work on the interior edge of the rim. It was significantly out of round, particularly around the area of the patch I had applied.
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I used a half round wood rasp and folded 220 grit sandpaper to rework the inner edge of the rim. While doing so I also decided to top the bowl some more. I worked on the edge until it was getting more round, restained it to see what it looked like and decided I needed to top the bowl even more to remove more of the damage to the surface of the rim.
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After topping it even more, I sanded it with a fine grit sanding block and then restained the rim yet again. At this point the bowl was looking far better. There was still a slight divot out of the edge of the rim on the front of the bowl. I wanted to rework that area some more before I was finished with the pipe.
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I sanded and shaped the inner edge of the rim some more with folded sandpaper, repaired the fill with a bit of superglue and briar dust, sanded some more to get it to the place shown below. All that remained was to sand the top of the rim and inner edge with micromesh pads to clean up the overall appearance and the bowl was ready to go.
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I sanded the inner edge of the rim with some 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper and then carefully dry sanded the top of the rim with micromesh sanding pads 1500-2400 grit. I gave the inside of the bowl a light coat of pipe mud to protect the bowl. I hand buffed the bowl with a shoe brush to give it a shine and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to finish. The completed pipe is shown below in the last series of photos.
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The old sad apple had disappeared and was replaced with a handsome prince that still had some life in it. The little prince will now grace my pipe rack and will one day be given in trust to the next pipeman who will carry on enjoying this piece of history.

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A Profitable Day – at least for a Pipe Refurbisher who is a Scavenger


Friday I was traveling with my daughter and I talked her into stopping at an Antique Mall that has been a good source of estate pipes for me in the past. We pulled in and it was cold and windy when we got out of the car. We hurried into the shop to get warm again. I was so intent on the hunt that I did not even bother to stop at the lunch counter in the corner of the mall to grab a coffee. I was a man on a mission. I quickly went down the first rows of stalls and found absolutely nothing other than the overpriced tobacco tin from yesteryear. On about the third row of stalls one of the staff asked if she could help me at about the same time I came upon one of the displays where I had found pipes in the past. I looked inside the case as she spoke and then asked her to open the case for me. Inside was a rack of pipes – the usual fare and nothing initially that caught my interest. Then the last pipe in the rack called out to me.

It was an old tan rusticated opera pipe. I took it from the rack and looked it over, turning it over in my hands I saw that the stamping was faint and hard to read. In the light of the shop all I could see was Made in London England and the faint stamping toward the front of the bowl that read “____________ Imperial” in script. I had no idea of the maker but decided this one was going home with me. The price was about $20 but it would clean up nicely. The staff asked if I collected old pipes and what I did with them. I explained to her that it was a hobby – I both smoked them and repaired them. I asked if she had any others that might interest me.

She nodded and said she thought she had something toward the back of the shop. I always take those words with a grain of salt until I actually see what she has. I have gotten excited only to have the hopes dashed when I find a chewed up bunch of old basket pipes. But in this case she came back with a Ziplock bag stapled shut but full of pipe parts – bowls, stems, bands, cigar holders. A cursory look told me that there were at least 12-15 pipe bowls in the bag. The stems, bands and all were a bonus. It also looked like none of the stems fit the bowls in the bag so it was truly a grab bag. The price tag was a healthy $45 which is more than I usually like to pay for pipe parts but I decided to add that to the lot.

The staff took the bag and the opera pipe to the front of the store and I continued on the hunt through the rest of the shop. I purposefully wandered down several other aisles and found Chinese made knock off pipes covered in a thick lacquer, chewed up Dr. Grabows and other pipe racks and interesting pieces of tobacciana but nothing caught my eye until the end of one aisle about mid store. There was a glass display case with a batch of pipes that looked interesting. There on top of the display case, outside of the locked case was a little bulldog. I picked it up and turned it over in my hands. It was a GBD bulldog. The stem was in good shape. The bowl was okay with a slight blackening on one side. Upon examination it appeared to be a stain rather than a burn mark or an impending burnout. The stamping said that it was a New Standard. The price tag said the seller wanted $18 for it so I held on to it and went to get the staff person to open the case. Nothing else in the case caught my attention so I thanked her, she took the pipe and I moved on through the shop.

I finished my examination of the bottom floor and went upstairs to see if anything else could be found there. Sadly my luck had ended and there was nothing else that warranted more than a cursory look through the glass of the locked case. I came down the back stairway and looked a couple of other pipes in a case near the front of the shop. I had the clerk at the register open one of the cases for me and had a look at a couple of the pipes there and an old tin of Edgeworth that looked promising. It turned out to be empty so I went and found my daughter and we cashed out with our purchases.

When I got to our room at the place we were staying I took the bag out, opened it and emptied it on the table. I like to examine each piece I find and write down a quick inventory of what was there. In this case I looked over each pipe under the light of the overhead lamp. I wish I had brought along my jewelers loop to be able to look at the stampings with a magnifier but I had not. So as I picked through the parts I wrote down what was in the $45 grab bag. The list below gives my field inventory of the pipes.
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1. CPF calabash that needs a stem and meer cup. The silver band was loose but bore the CPF stamp in the silver. The threaded tenon was bone and it was loose enough to unscrew. This one would clean up nicely once I ordered a meerschaum cup from Tim West.

2. Medico sand blast apple with a chewed stem. This stem was nylon and had a metal tenon. There were bite throughs on both the top and the bottom of the stem.

3. Older silver shank apple that really interested me. The shank end cap was ornate and a combination of silver and brass coloured bands. It was ornate and led me to believe that it had some age on it. There was no stem in the bag that fit. The end cap was loose. The bowl was in rough shape with major chunks of briar missing on the rim and some cracks in the top part of the bowl.

4. Old Pal French made Canadian that had the wrong stem jammed in the shank. The stem was as long as the whole pipe. The shank had been cracked by the wrong stem so it would need to be banded and a Canadian stem fit on the shank.

5. Planter opera with a silver band. It had hallmarks that I would have to look at when I got home. The band was loose and there was no stem on the pipe but it had some good-looking grain on the bowl and would clean up nicely.

6. Bent billiard with faint stamping in two lines. The initial letters of the first line were BAR over a second line that was stamped Imported Briar. I would need a loop to read the rest of the first line of stamping. This old bowl also needed a new stem and would take time to bring back to life. It had an aluminum insert in the shank and took a threaded tenon.

7. Imported briar bulldog with a metal tenon inserted into the shank. It came with a very thin and misfit stem so it would need a new stem. There was nothing remarkable about this pipe but it would clean up nicely.

8. Acorn shaped bowl that needed a stem. Again there was nothing remarkable about the pipe.

9. Medico prince/Rhodesian that was a good-looking piece of briar. It needed a stem and I was pretty sure that I had one that would fit the bill at home. It even had the M in the circle Medico logo stamped on the stem.

10. Royalton Smoke Control apple shaped pipe that had a patent number and some interesting grain. It had an aluminum apparatus in the shank that was patented. There was no stem on this one and it would be interesting to research what the original stem would have looked like. This one would be a good pipe mystery to search out.

11. Bentley Dublin that needed a stem. It had an aluminum insert and would take a metal threaded tenon on the stem. The finish was gone and the briar was clean. It looked like it potentially had some interesting grain on the bowl.

12. Willard Dublin with a metal band that was original. It needed a stem but would take a push stem as opposed to a threaded tenon. The finish on this one was not too bad and it would clean up nicely.

13. Weber _________ Junior in a bull moose shape that was intriguing. It was a chubby shanked bowl that had some amazing mixed grain. It would need a stem but would clean up nicely. There were some surface cracks in the flat surface of the rim that did not go to deep.

14. Maple bowl with a peg at the bottom that would sit into the shank of the original pipe. I had a walnut barrel pipe that my daughter had found at an antique shop in Vancouver and gifted me. It did not have a bowl but this one might just work on that piece. I would have to check it out when I got home.

15. MacArthur corn cob that needs a stem and shank to make it complete. I believe these are available to order from Missouri Meerschaum and it can be repaired to new condition. It was unsmoked and very clean.

16. Handful of stems with a variety of stampings – none of which matched the bowls in the lot. There was a silver band with hallmarks that did not come off of the bowls either. It was in good shape and would join my other bands. There was a tiny bowl made of maple with a shank and stem sitting loose in the bag. Finally there were two cigar holders – one looked old and appeared to be made of Bakelite while the other was newer and clearly plastic.

After looking over the inventory of the bag of pipe parts I was pretty happy with the $45 cost of the grab bag. There were a lot of bowls that would clean up nicely and the stems, bands and sundry parts would certainly go into my parts bins and be incorporated in future pipe repairs. I separated the gourd calabash from the lot and bagged it separately as well as the stems and other parts. I put the bowls back in the bag and then put the bags of stems and parts in as well. I could not wait to get home and begin to work on them. These would be fun to restore and held a lot of lessons that could be learned from their restoration.

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