I’m pushing this post out a little early this week. I head out tomorrow on a long-anticipated fishing trip with my brothers, but I wanted to make sure I left something for you to read while I’m (hopefully) reeling in some walleye!
This is the next pipe I worked on from the box of Blatter pipes sent to me for refurbishment. This one is a Bent Pot shape with a nicely blasted finish.
The pipe had been only lightly smoked. There was a thin layer of cake in the bowl, but apart from needing a general cleaning, the stummel was in good shape without cracks or dents. The stem was heavily oxidized to an ugly yellow-brown colour. Removing the oxidation to restore the stem’s deep black colour would be the major task with this pipe. The stem had no tooth dents to worry about, just light chatter that would smooth out during the clean-up.
This Bent Pot is stamped simply “Blatter” over “Montreal” on the underside of the shank, while the stem carries the Blatter Red Dot inset on the left flank.
I didn’t need to use the reamer on this bowl. The cake was thin enough that a few quick twists of sandpaper wrapped around a Sharpie marker was sufficient to clear the chamber back to briar.
The pipe really was very lightly used. I only needed four pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol to clear the stummel’s internals, and a single pipe cleaner to wipe out the airway through the stem.
I dropped the stem into a bath of Oxyclean and warm water to soak overnight. The Oxyclean softens the oxidation and brings it to the surface of the vulcanite stem, making it much easier to remove.
While the stem soaked, I cleaned the surface of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap, scrubbed on full strength with an old toothbrush. After rinsing with fresh water, I dried the stummel with a terry towel.
As I have done with all the pipes from this lot, I gave this stummel a salt and alcohol treatment to pull any deeply ingrained tars from the briar. The treatment also removes a lot of the odours associated with a used pipe.
I twisted an unravelled cotton ball into the shank to act as both a plug and a wick, and then filled the bowl of the pipe with kosher salt. Using an eye dropper, I added 99% isopropyl alcohol to the bowl until it was full. A good indication of this is a touch of dampness on the end of the cotton ball stuffed into the shank.
On really dirty pipes, the alcohol can immediately start to dissolve the tars inside the pipe, so the cotton wick can discolour very quickly. I let the stummel sit overnight to give the salt and alcohol time to do their work.
The next morning, I was surprised to see how dark the salt had become. This just goes to show you that even a clean, well-kept pipe can harbour a fair amount of tar.
I dumped the spent salt out of the bowl and made a quick pass of the chamber walls and the airway with a pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol. This ensures that all the salt crystals are out of the stummel.
Setting the briar aside to rest, I retrieved the stem from its bath and scrubbed the now soft oxidation away with 0000 steel wool followed by 600 and 1000 grit wet sandpapers. As anticipated, the light tooth chatter was gone by the time I was finished.
I finished up this quick refurbishment by taking both halves of the pipe to the buffing wheel for a run of White Diamond compound followed by several coats of Carnauba wax. I buffed the briar very gently, not wanting to push buffing compound or wax into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish. The stem received a more thorough buffing to remove the last traces of sanding marks and bring up the shine.
This is a nice medium sized Bent Pot, with a relatively large bowl compared to the length of the shank. As with all the Blatter pipes I’ve worked on, the drilling is spot on, and the detail on the fine work is impeccable. I’m sure this pipe has many decades of useful life ahead of it. Its owner will certainly enjoy its refreshed condition.
Thanks for joining me for this quick restoration. Here’s the finished pipe.
Until next time, Happy Piping!