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.
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.
This is my latest eBay buy.
You can see that this is in need of more of a good cleaning than a reserection. The bowl is in good shape and the stem, while very oxidized, has no major dents or scrapes and the emblem is in good shape as well.
First up was to ream the bowl and give it an alcohol cleaning with pipe cleaners and Everclear. The stem I inspected and covered the logo with Vaseline to soak in an Oxyclean / water solution to loosen the oxidation. The next step was to immerse the bowl in isopropyl alcohol and let it soak for a couple of hours. When I took it out it went into a rice container to help dry it. The rice will pull out the moisture and dry it nicely. This is a trick electronics techs use when they get wet and you want to make sure it is dry before you power it up. Good to know if you drop a cell phone in water. When doing a salt and alcohol bath the rice also allows me to sit the bowl at the best angle to maximize the alcohol and not have it leak out.
The next several pictures show the progress on the stem, bringing it back to a nice shine. Starting with 220 grit flexible sandpaper and moving through the entire range of sponges up to 12000 grit you can see the finish come back. I used care not to get too close to the logo and damage it. I needed to use the pick to clear out some stubborn tar out of the bit.
I was thinking how I might give this a nice contrast to go with the finish contrast. I used the sanding sponges on the smooth areas that have geometric shapes. On the rusticated area I went with Black leather dye. I have long admired this combination in a number of pipe makers offerings. I still need to work on my technique to get the lines cleaner.
As I continue to learn more and more via experience I am encouraged by reading the blogs of Steve Laug and Upshallfan to see how veterans approach their work. A contributor to Reborn Pipes, Troy, has shown that you can be daring in reworking a pipe and get great results. Thanks to you all for the fine work you post.
The first thing I need to say is –
“Put the knife down and step away from the pipe!!”
I got this on eBay recently and was dubious of the buy but got it cheap enough. It has a stem with the letters BC in a plastic / lexan insert in it. In looking up the BC it resembles the Butz – Choquin style. The fit is good and it has a 9mm filter inside. The nomenclature on the pipe is in good shape and says Peterson XL90s on the right and Shamrock filter on the left. The stem had a very rough texture to it, like it had been sand blasted. It wasn’t scratched as in sanding, just raised material that was very dull in color.
The reason for the first comment was that a prior owner had left knife marks in the cake. A reamer was a foreign tool to the pipe. The front of the bowl is now thinner than the rest and showed sign as if it had been burned / charred like a hot spot would leave behind. Once I reamed it I verified it was scorched. There is also a small gouge in the front of the bowl as well from the knife. It seems that the knife assassin would only clean the cake from the front half of the bowl causing the damage.
Using the Castleford reamer I began with the third largest size and then the largest to clean the balance of the cake out. The front wall of the bowl has a dime size scorch mark that does not seem to extend too deep. So I am going to leave it alone at this time. While I was reaming and cleaning the bowl I put the stem into a Oxyclean bath to clean it. In the shank of the bowl the tar was very thick so I gave the entire bowl a bath in alcohol overnight to loosen it up. This helped clear the tar out nicely but left the bowl bleached almost white. The stem was sanded with sponges of progressive grits from 1200 to 12000. It brought up the shine nicely.
In the top picture you can see the char mark in the bowl. I decided to top the bowl to minimize the back side gouge which looked as if someone used a file on it causing a drop in the rim. Using a hard flat table top and some 120 grit sandpaper I took off a good bit of material and took a small scrap of used sandpaper to chamfer the inside edge. Afterwards I used the entire range of sanding sponges once again to go over the bowl prior to staining it. The back side of the rim was severely angled and I was not able to get the full cut out without taking the bowl depth down too much.
At first I was going to use a base of dark brown and lighten that up and go over it with ox blood. But, once I covered it with the brown and flamed it, the color was too rich to alter. It came out like old leather which is a weakness for me, so it was left alone.
At some point I will get the correct stem for it with the Peterson logo, but, for now it should function just fine.
A final request to all pipe smokers… If you need to clean a pipe and don’t have a reamer, PLEASE find a fellow piper that can help you save your pipe for many more years of good service!