Well, here is part 3 of my 7 part saga in which I took “The Nasty Seven” under my wing and am in the process of giving them some TLC and taking them from toads to princes.
I previously have not gone into how I refurb these pipes as much as I don’t have quality photo equipment as the wifes Nikon D50 (of which I dropped) is in the shop for a fix and I am providing grainy cell phone pictures at best.
I will attempt to describe my process the best I can and then, once the Nikon is fixed, I will document the process in pictures.
Step #1: I start with the stem. These stems have heavy oxidation and residue at the end of the stem. I used a sharp knife to lightly scrape the residue off of the stem. I would then take a 120 grit sand paper and scrub the stem lengthwise up and down the stem taking special care to take out any bite marks and clean up the detail on the button. Once I am satisfied that the scuzz and the stem is smooth and bite mark free, I then use finer and finer sandpaper 300, 400, 600, 800 and finally 1200 grit sandpaper making sure that each successive grit of sandpaper has done it’s job in eliminating scratches from the rougher sand paper. Now, before I buff the stem, I clean the inside draft hole of the stem by soaking pipe cleaners in denatured alcohol and scrubbing the draft hole until the gunk is gone and the pipe cleaner comes out clean. Sometimes, with very dirty stems, you will need to either boil the stem, or plug one end of the stem with a pipe cleaner and fill the stem with a medicine dropper with denatured alcohol and let it sit for a few days and then scrub it with a pipe cleaner. You’d be surprised the gunk that comes out. Nothing worse than tasting some other dudes ghosting…
Step #2: Reaming the bowl. Nows the time to make a big mess and I urge you to purchase a paper mask to cover your mouth and nose. As you will see with many of thse refurbs, the bowls are extremely well caked. If you have a pipe reaming tool, give the bowl the business and scrape out as much of the carbon as you can without gouging the wood. If you don’t have a pipe reamer, use great care with a stout, short jack-knife and remove the carbon but again, I caution you to not gouge the wood of the tobacco chamber. Ream it within a 1/16″ to 1/32″ thick carbon. If you can find a small diameter drum sanding bit that fits into a power drill, use that to sand the inner walls of the smoke chamber. You need to find a way to get the carbon off the bottom of the chamber at the draft hole. I simply Gorilla taped sandpaper to the end of the mini drum sanding bit and sanded it down as far as I could. Once I was satisfied that most of the carbon was removed from the bowl, I used a drill bit that was slightly oversized than the original draft hole in the shank and re-drilled the draft hole which, in turn, removed the carbon from the shank.
Step #3: Denastying the bowl and shank. There are many ideas on how best to removed the rest of the carbon and the ghosting of smokers past from the pipe. What has worked the best for me is to get some sea salt (not table salt), plug the end of the shank with cotton, fill the bowl and draft hole with sea salt and then saturate the salt by filling the bowl with denatured alcohol (most folks use vodka or Everclear). Prop the pipe up so that the end of the shank is at about a 45 degree angle and is higher than the bowl so the mixture does not leak out. Now patience, grasshopper, patience. Let it sit for about 5 days, periodically adding more alcohol to the bowl as it evaporates. After 5-days, dump out the nasty remains and swab the inside of the bowl again with alcohol soak and wear out a dozen or 3 pipe cleaners in the shank. You need to let this dry a couple of days as you will be getting the bowl pretty darn moist.
Step #4: Turning the exterior from ugly duckling to a swan… Many times I am given a pipe that looks like it has been drug behind a truck going down a gravel road for the last 100 miles or so. Chunks of briar missing, gouges, nicks, and a less than appealing visage. I look at the pipe and see if there are things that can be done to clean up the appearance. I find the most opportunities are at the rim of the bowl. They are normally charred and caked from years of use. If I can lightly sand the rim to smooth it out, and then apply carnuba wax, then great! In the case of “The Nasty Seven”, each of the first (3) had rims in such tough shape, it took sanding down the height of the bowl to certain dimensions until the glaring flaws were gone were in order. I try to avoid it at all costs, and I think it’s important to leave some of the flaws as if you think you will take these and make them look fresh out of the box, then you are kidding yourself. In any case, see what you can do without totally reshaping the pipe. For me, sanding the rim smooth, then applying carbuba wax from a buffing wheel to the assembled pipe bowl, shank and stem, will 9 times out of 10 make the pipe look like darn near brand new.
Whew, I think I have typers cramp…
Below are pictures of a meer-lined Whitehall large apple with a thick shank as it looked when gifted to me. Warning: These pictures are not for the faint of heart…
And some “after” pictures. This pipe is one of my favorites as it turned out to be a large “pot” of sorts and is a pleasure to smoke as I almost feel a bond with the individual who last owned and smoked this pipe. You can tell by the before pics, this pipe has been there and done that. I would hope to get a fraction of the serenity and wisdom this pipe has witnessed.
Thanks for stopping by.