Real Amber WDC

I recently found this little jewel on eBay.   It was listed as a French Briar, but it had a unique charm to it that no one else seemed to see. I got it for not even a song, just a clearing of the throat.

It came with this case which also needs attention. The case was marked with French Briar inside which, while it fits the pipe I don’t think came with the pipe originally.

The top of the rim had what appeared to be mold on it. Inside was not too bad as there was hardly any cake built up in it. The stem has nicks in it and the brass / gold sleeve was very dirty.

I gave the stem a bath in the Oxyclean for a couple of hours and the bowl after reaming with my Castleford reamer set of the lower three sizes, an alcohol bath over night. The Oxyclean did a great job of removing the tar and stains from the inside and outsides of the stem.  The texture of the stem was rough. I had hoped to bring it up by sanding it first then buffing it. I saw the real amber structure come alive as I attempted to polish the amber with sanding sponges from 1200 to 6000 grits. Under a magnifying glass I could see very small bubbles and imperfections in the amber. As I sanded these imperfections were exposed and became open divots, though  small, visible on the stem. As I was able to completely clean the inside of the stem I decided to just try to put some shine on the outside by using the buffing wheel. This worked very well and put a good shine to it.

The white specks are the opened bubbles. Not wanting to deteriorate the condition further I settled for the polishing wheel.

Next up was to clean out the bowl. I was happy to see that the spot that looked like mold disappeared after the alcohol bath. Using an old tooth brush I went over it with more alcohol and was able to remove all of the grime that the bath loosened and clear the grooves. They are very crisp all the way around. While the surface of the pipe is very good there is an underlying dark area round the front that looked like it was deep within the briar. When the bowl was wet it showed some very nice birdseye on one side and flame grain on the other.  Leaving it alone I let it dry, then using OxBlood Red leather stain gave it several coats and flamed it to set.

I gave it a coat of beeswax and a buff.

In researching the Real Amber WDC connection I was able to find an identical shank sleeve on a straight Real Amber WDC that they dated at 1890. I would like to believe that this is one from the same time but before I claim it I will continue to research the dating wherever I can.

Savinelli Punto Oro Poker Cleanup

A friend of mine had me Reserect another of his old pipes and this one is similar to one of the last I did for him, a Savinelli Punto Oro poker. This, he said, was his favorite pipe and by the condition it was in I would agree. it was the most smoked of the four by far.

In looking at the chip in the rim I had the thought to try to taper the rest of the rim. But, after I reamed it out I found a slight crack that I worried may effect the integrity of the pipe if I removed material near it. The stem had several very deep tooth  marks in both the top and bottom of the stem that I have not attempted to work on before and was unsure as to the outcome.

I did ask Steve Laug of Reborn Pipes how to best approach this. Thanks Steve for the advise. He suggested that I use a small heat source such as a lighter to gently raise the divots and not to get it too hot as to melt the vulcanite. Well… That part scared me so I delayed in getting this done (I was asked in May to do this…). I did not want to ruin a friends pipe!

Next  thing I did was to finish cleaning the bowl and stem. I soaked the stem in a mild Oxyclean solution and used Everclear and pipe cleaners on the stem to complete the cleaning. The bowl was given an alcohol and salt bath for about 2 hours and the outside was washed with alcohol and cotton to clean the grime off.

The next thing I needed to overcome my fear of the flame and get the tooth marks out of the stem. I inserted a pipe cleaner into it and held a flame briefly under it. Several of the divots raised a good bit. Not wanting to risk damage to the vulcanite I stopped and sanded with sponges from 1200 to 12000 grit.

I used beeswax on the bowl and Brebbia pipe and stem cleaner on the stem to bring up the shine. Then using a flannel rag I polished the entire pipe.