In our latest batch of pipes to be restored this week we had the difficult task of transforming a 1906 Peterson Patent pipe. To the untrained eye this pipe looked to be in very poor condition, but the nomenclature was crisp and the hallmarks on the silver collar were clearly visible, although the pipe was a long way from being usable.
We started the restoration process as normal by removing the stems and putting them into a solution bath to soften oxidation and aid the cleaning process of the internal stem. While the stems are soaking in the solution I began to ream the bowl, the cake was like a rock and required a lot of elbow grease. Once the wall of cake was broken down, the next stage is to hand sand the inside of the bowl with wet and dry 400 & 600 grit sand paper to bring it back to as smooth a finish as possible. Once the cake was out we could assess the condition of the inside of the bowl. The walls were free from cracks and thinning – Good News!
The rim on the pipe was also badly charred and with a small cake build up. Using a wire brush I rubbed around the rim and then sanded the remaining charring and cake off with 400 grit wet and dry then finished sanding the entire pipe down with 800 grit but taking extra care around the nomenclature.
The stems are finished their first soaking and are removed and assessed, some of them need sanding and then put back into the solution and the Peterson stem was one of those. I sanded the stem with 400 grit wet and dry and put it back into the solution for another 30 minutes. I then give the stem another quick sand and all of the stems where put into a hot water and soap bath to aid in the cleaning.
The next step and the most time consuming is the cleaning of the bowls. The shank of the Peterson had a huge amount of tar build up, so much so the draft hole was completely blocked and invisible. No retort was ever going to fully remove this amount of tar. An adapted tool for removing tar from the shank was used to take out the bulk of the build up. Cotton buds soaked in alcohol were then rubbed around the inside of the shank to loosen and clean the tar from the shank. After around 40 cotton buds and more elbow grease I was happy to move on to cleaning the air way. Firstly the air way had to be re-drilled to removed the caked tar from the draft hole. I then used both bristle and white pipe cleaners to get the airway to a certain standard. After this stage I placed the pipe into a hot alcohol bath for a period of time, this helps soften stubborn tar, clean the tobacco chamber and strip the remaining stain from the bowl.
After the alcohol bath the above process is repeated using cotton buds and pipe cleaners, although not as much work is required the second time around. This ensures that the Peterson was thoroughly cleaned and properly sanitised. These cleaning stages are the most important as they restore the pipe’s smoking properties and quality. After these stages the pipe should smoke just like a new pipe with any tobacco ghost completely gone or hardly noticeable.
The stems are removed from their bath and the remainder of any oxidation is removed by sanding with 800 and 1000 grit wet and dry to give a smooth clean finish. Any teeth marks are either removed or greatly reduced during this process using a mixture of glue if needed or sanded using emery boards, followed by the wet and dry treatment.
I then cleaned the stem using alcohol and pipe cleaners. The previous baths will have greatly helped in cleaning the internals of the stems, however in some stems stubborn tar remains. If this is the case a retort will be set up to remove the stubborn tar, followed by further cleaning with pipe cleaners.
I then moved on to the next stage which is staining. We use a variety of stains, from leather dyes to furniture markers. This time I stained the Peterson with a leather dye. I give the pipe a quick rub with alcohol after to removed drip marks. After the stain dried I put the stem back into the pipe.
We bowl coat all of our pipes except for meerschaums. A special recipe is made and a small paint brush was used to coat the bowl. This bolsters the pipe’s smoking abilities and allows for an even cake to build up gradually. The bowl coating also makes the pipes easier to photograph!
The next stage after the bowl coating has dried is the the polishing. We use a 5 stage polishing process on a custom built buffing station. The first couple of stages use a polish with higher cut for removing impurities from the stain and stem. The remaining wheels are for giving the pipe a glossy shine and then a sealing coat of carnuba wax is applied to preserve the shine. A quick buff with a microfibre cloth and the pipe is now finished, fully restored and ready to be smoked.
At Reborn Briar we pride ourselves on the quality of our restorations. The emphasis on cleaning the internals of the pipe we believe is what sets us apart from the competition. A pipe looks great with a shine but its the inside is where we judge how well a pipe smokes. The turn around on the Peterson Patent Pipe in particular is a testament to this. If you would like to read more about Peterson Patent Pipes, please read our other recent blog on their history. We also offer this restoration service to our customers as well as a range of fully restored pipes.