The family got together this past Easter weekend, and soon after arriving, my oldest brother presented me with this peculiar object and a request for me to clean it up for him. Our father had a penchant for oddball pipes which he satisfied periodically with things like this torpedo-shaped take on the Zeppelin pipe, a 1920’s era invention intended to make it safe to smoke a pipe while travelling inside a Zeppelin filled with hydrogen gas. I rather doubt the design ever quite hit the target, but the idea was that the ember of burning tobacco was (almost) fully enclosed behind a steel nose cone spark arrestor, thus minimizing the risk of a stray spark setting off an explosion. Perhaps the inventor hadn’t heard that hydrogen is a gas……
According to this page at Pipephil.eu , this particular pipe was made by Mastercraft (thus the “M” stamped on the stem). The briar is stamped “Cigar-Pipe” over “Sparkless” on the left side near the stem logo, and “Century Old” over “Briar Italy” on the right side. Parallel to the rear edge of the nose cone on top of the body is stamped “Reg. No M.U.3840”, while the underside is stamped “Perfected”.
You can see from the pictures that this pipe has not been smoked much at all. There was some blackening of the tobacco chamber itself, and a few tooth marks on the stem to prove that it had been fired at least once, but that was it. The rest of the cleanup consisted of dust, dirt, and oxidation.
This picture shows the pipe completely disassembled. From the front, the parts are nose cone screen, tobacco chamber, a smoke chamber and the stem with a short flared tube stinger. There are three air holes in the end cap of the aluminum male threads that connect the halves of the briar body together.
I found a small crack in the briar on the leading edge of the smoke chamber section, likely from being dropped. To ensure that the crack didn’t spread, I flowed a small amount of CA glue into it from both the face end and the outside edge and let it cure before smoothing the repair out with 1500 grit micromesh.
I polished up the exterior of the briar and the nose cone with 4000 and 6000 grit micromesh pads. This removed a few small handling marks and the small amount of oxidation that had dulled the metal.
After a short soak in Oxyclean and warm water, I cleaned up the stem with 0000 steel wool and micromesh and rubbed a drop of mineral oil into the vulcanite to rehydrate the rubber. Then the pipe was buffed lightly with White Diamond compound and given a coat of Carnauba wax to shine and protect. This cigar pipe is ready to go back to my brother. I highly doubt it will ever be smoked, but it’s all set if he decides to give it a go. Otherwise, the pipe is a great conversation starter which he can display proudly while telling stories of some of Dad’s other wacky acquisitions.
Here’s the finished pipe. Thanks for looking, and until next time, Happy Piping!