You never know what you’re going to get when you buy estate pipes online. This small WellPipe full bent pipe is a case in point. The auction listing looked good, and the pipe arrived in decent shape. On the surface it only needed a good cleaning.
The bowl had a bit of rim char and tar build-up, and the stem was oxidized, especially at the bit where someone likely had left a softie bit n place without proper cleaning. Nothing a bit of elbow grease shouldn’t fix. So I dropped the stummel into an alcohol bath, the stem into an Oxyclean bath, and let the parts soak for an hour or so.
When I pulled the stummel out of its bath, I found the several large old fills had dissolved! This left large gouges in the briar. Huh! A bit flustered, I decided to clean the rest of the pipe before deciding how to deal with the missing fills.
I cleared the old cake out of the bowl with a pen knife and sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. I cleaned the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol until the pipe cleaners came out clean.
The stem also got cleaned out after it came out of the Oxyclean. When the internals were clean, I scrubbed the stem down with 0000 steel wool and 400-2000 grit wet/dry paper. This removed the oxidation and polished up the vulcanite.
Now what to do with the stummel? I could replace the fills with a mix of briar dust and CA glue, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to try my hand at rustication. I went to the store and bought a couple carving bits for my rotary tool (aka generic Dremel). Working carefully, I carved a pattern of rustication into the bowl of the pipe. I didn’t take pictures during the rustication as I was focussed on not carving holes through the pipe bowl. I had to keep a FIRM grip on the stummel as I worked for fear of the rotary tool throwing the piece across the work room, but surprisingly quickly I had a result I was satisfied with,
All that remained was the finishing. I stained the pipe a mahogany colour and then buffed it on the wheel. I use a 4-stage buffing routine: Red Tripoli, White Diamond, Wax and a final buff with a clean wheel. The finished pipe is shown below. I think it came out rather well for a first attempt at rustication!