Here is another eBay estate pipe find sent directly to me by the buyer for restoration. This time, I’m working on a Shamrock 268 by Peterson that looked to be in fairly good condition when it arrived.
The last pic above should give you a clue as to what was lurking inside the stummel – lots and lots of tar and gunk – but we’ll get to that later.Other potential issues noted during the initial inspection included that old, dried up Softee bit that had bonded to the stem, a bit of cake in the chamber and some light oxidation. The stummel, though dirty, was in good shape.
The stamps on the underside of the shank were faded and hard to read but it was still possible to make out the text. The pipe is stamped “268” then “Shamrock” over “A Peterson” over “Product” over “Made in” ….. unfortunately the rest of the COM stamp is illegible, but presumably it should read “Made in the Republic of Ireland”.
I started the cleanup process on this pipe by cutting away the old desiccated Softee bit. It was really adhered to the vulcanite stem. I ended up scraping away most of it with the edge of my pen knife blade.
With the rubber Softee bit out of the way the oxidation on the stem really sowed. To soften and remove it, I dropped the bit into an Oxyclean bath and left it to soak for a few hours.
While the stem sat in its bath, I worked on the stummel, reaming out the old cake from the chamber and smoothing out the chamber walls with sandpaper wrapped around a Sharpie. The chamber proved to be in great shape under the carbon.
Then it was time to tackle the intenrals. I started by clearing the mortise and airway using pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in 99% isopropyl alcohol. When I thought I had gotten most of the old tars out, I set the stummel up with a salt and alcohol treatment and left it to sit overnight.
In the meantime, I went back to the stem, pulling it from its bath and scrubbing down the exterior with Magic Eraser until I couldn’t lift any more oxidation from the surface.
There was still a fair bit of work remaining on the stem – the Softee bit had been hiding some tooth tents and the edges of the P-lip needed some attention as well. But before I got too far into those tasks, I cleaned the stem’s internals with pipe cleaners and more alcohol. Typically I find a buildup of tars in the bend of a P-lip stem, and this one was no exception.
The next morning I went back to the stummel and saw that the alcohol treatment had certainly loosened up a lot of muck. The salt in the bowl and the cotton in the shank had both turned colour.
I dumped out the salt and removed the cotton from the shank and ran a pipe cleaner through the airway to remove any loose salt or remaining tars. When the pipe cleaner came out dark I knew there was more to be done here before calling the stummel clean. After a bit more exploratory cleaners, it became clear that there was a lot more tar buildup in there than I had first thought. The alcohol treatment, however, had done a good job of loosening it up.
I ended up scraping the worst of the muck out with the flat end of a needle file before attacking the shank again with pipe cleaners, swabs and alcohol. When I had removed as much crud as possible, I set the stummel up with a second alcohol treatment, this time using cotton balls in the bowl instead of salt as the chamber was already clean and fresh from the first treatment.
The following morning I repeated the previous day’s efforts and again removed a surprising amount of tars from the shank.
With the shank finally clean and fresh on the inside, I finished off the cleanup here by scrubbing the exterior of the briar with some Murphy’s Oil Soap and a toothbrush, working the soap deeply into the nooks and crannies of the rustication before rinsing both soap and dirt away under the tap. I dried off the stummel and applied a light wipe of mineral oil to refresh the finish. I let the oil sit on the pipe briefly before removing the excess with an old towel.
Lastly, I polished the nickel shank band with some 0000 steel wool to remove years of grime and restore the shine without damaging the faux hallmarks.
I set the stummel aside to rest and moved my attention to the stem. I was able to sand out the light tooth dents and sharpen the edges of the P-lip with needle file and sandpaper before working through a succession of sandpaper grits from 220 to 2000 to smooth and polish the vulcanite.
Then it was time to take the complete pipe to the buffer. I gave the stem a run on both the Tripoli and White Diamond wheels before applying several coats of Carnauba wax to the pipe – heavier on the stem and very lightly on the stummel to avoid jamming wax into the rustication.
The finished pipe is looking nearly new. The briar is fresh and the original finish is renewed and glowing. The stem shines a deep glossy black, a shine second only to that of the restored shank band. This Shamrock 268 would make a great addition to any piper’s rack and rotation, and is now on its way to its new steward, who will enjoy it for decades to come, I have no doubt.
Thanks for joining me for this straightforward but no less rewarding restoration. I’m always somehow surprised by the difference a good cleaning and polishing makes to an estate pipe.
Until next time, Happy Piping! Here’s the finished pipe.