I recently purchased a mixed lot of New Old Stock pipe stems, so I sat down yesterday and sifted through my box of estate stummels to see if I could put two and two together, so to speak.
I came up with a bent billiard stummel marked “S.C. Flambe” on the left shank, “908” on the right shank, and “Canada” underneath near the mortise. Pipedia identifies S.C. Pipes as a brand of the Paradis pipe company of Lefaivre, Ontario, which is located about halfway between Ottawa and Montreal. It was in decent used condition, with a bit of rim tar and a few dents and dings in the finish. There was loose, flaky cake in the bowl mixed with bits of dottle. A mixed bag of swirl, flame and birdseye grain lay promisingly under the surface dirt.
I selected a somewhat fancy stem with a suitable diameter and length. The tenon would have to be reduced a fair bit to fit the mortise, but I had a hunch the stem and stummel would pair nicely.
I don’t (yet) own a tenon cutting tool, so I used a combination of sandpapers in various grits from 100 – 320 to reduce and shape the tenon to achieve a snug fit in the mortise. The stem was slightly larger than the shank, so the sandpaper came back out to shape and smooth the junction of briar and vulcanite.
With the rough fitting done, I dropped the stummel into an alcohol bath to strip the old finish and soften the tars in the shank. After a few hours, I pulled the briar from the bath and rubbed it down with an old towel. The bath had done its job, and it only took a few pipe cleaners to get the shank and airway clean.
I gave both stem and stummel a once-over with 220-grit sandpaper and then medium and fine sanding sponges to remove the small dents and dings in the surface. A light topping of the bowl cleaned up the rim. The sanding also cleaned up the rough-molded edges of the new stem. I paid particular attention to the grooves and contours of the fancy carved area of the stem.
The pipe was now ready to finish. I applied a wash coat of light brown leather dye to the briar and let it dry. A quick rub-down with an old towel to remove the excess dye was followed by a coat of mineral oil to enrich and enliven the finish.
Before buffing, I bent the new stem. I received a new heat gun for Christmas, so I quickly set it up on the counter and got to it. A few short minutes in the heat softened the stem enough to allow it to be bent. I used a handy bottle of leather dye as a form, and set the new bend under cool running water.
Then it was off to the buffer where both stem and stummel got a run of White Diamond compound on the wheel followed by several coats of Carnauba wax. This home-grown Canadian pipe has really come back to life, even though I didn’t go overboard on the refurb. There are still a few minor “character marks” in the briar, but the stummel is smooth and feels good in the hand, and the new stem shines and looks like it belongs. The pipe has a good, open draw and promises to deliver a good smoke.
Here’s the finished pipe.
Thanks for looking, and until next time, Happy Piping!