Repairing Old Fills in a Blatter Canadian

This is the second of six Blatter pipes sent to me for refurbishment. Of the lot, this Canadian is the owner’s admitted favourite, and I can see why. The long, elegant shape is rather appealing, and the amber acrylic stem on this pipe is quite eye-catching.

The pipe hit the worktable in very nice estate condition, with light tooth chatter on the stem, some darkening of the rim and a few nicks and dings around the inner and outer bowl edges. The bowl was properly caked, with a nice even layer of carbon – this pipe has been taken care of!

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Like the smaller Zulu pipe I’ve already written about, this Canadian is marked simply with “Blatter” over “Montreal”. The left flank of the stem carries the Blatter Red Dot.

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I would have said that the pipe simply needed a basic cleaning and polishing except for a number of factory fills that needed attention. The old putty had crumbled over time, leaving a few large divots and a number of smaller pinhead pits in the briar.

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Near the bowl-shank junction is a trio of large marks in the shank top. It took me a few minutes of close inspection to realize that these marks are deliberate – there was no old putty in these marks. I would call this little patch a bit of artistic rustication. Rather than leave large fills in the side of this pipe, Blatter chose to turn the natural flaws into decoration.

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Finished with my initial inspection, I started work on the pipe by reaming the bowl to remove the old cake. The chamber was in great shape.

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I topped the bowl very lightly on 320-grit sandpaper to clean up the darkened patch there and also restore the crisp lines of the bowl edges. It didn’t take much work.

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A wipe-down with alcohol on a cotton pad removed the old wax finish, taking the dirt with it. Check out the birdseye grain on the side of the bowl.

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I finished the exterior cleaning with a scrub with Murphy’s Oil Soap. I apply the soap with a toothbrush, and then rinse the stummel under running water.

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The stummel’s internals were very clean, only needing a few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol to freshen things up. The stem was likewise very clean.

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I would perhaps have decided against a salt treatment for a pipe that came to me this clean already, but the owner had mentioned that a few of the pipes were a bit smelly. I decided to do salt treatments on all the pipes to make sure they went home clean and fresh.

To that end, I twisted a bit of cotton wool into the shank and filled the bowl with kosher salt before adding alcohol with an eye dropper. I set the stummel aside overnight; when I came back to it the next morning, the salt and cotton had absorbed the old tars trapped in the briar and removed the residual odours as well.

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After dumping the salt and tidying up the internals, I smoothed and polished the rim of the bowl with a full course of micromesh pads.

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It was time to deal with those old fills. I used a dental pick to scrape out as much of the old factory putty as possible before mixing up some thick CA glue and briar dust to fill the pits. I let the patches cure before filing and sanding them flush to the surrounding briar.

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I polished out the sanding marks on the bowl with micromesh in 1500-4000 grits, then refinished the briar with a coat of Fiebing’s Saddle Tan leather dye to restore the original red/brown colours. A wipe with mineral oil after the stain had dried revived the briar and gave the new finish depth and punch.

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Finished with the stummel, I gave the stem a quick tidy-up with micromesh pads as well. The tooth chatter was light enough not to require coarser abrasive to smooth out. I find acrylic stems take to micromesh pads like ducks to water, achieving a high shine with much less effort than vulcanite stems.

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Finally, I reunited stummel and stem for a run on the buffing wheel with white diamond compound and several coats of Carnauba wax.

This is one good looking pipe, if I may say so. The Canadian shape is one of my favourites, and this Blatter Canadian is a lovely example that speaks to me of simple elegance and fuss-free comfort. I’m sure the owner will be thrilled to have this beauty back in rotation!

Thanks for following along. Here’s the finished pipe, and until next time, Happy Piping!

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