This is the second of five Castello pipes I have been asked to restore and sell. Last time, we lookd at a sandblasted Castello Old Antiquari Oom Paul. This week we’re cleaning up a Castello “Castello” G Bent Billiard.
Castello was founded by Carlo Scotti in Italy in 1947 and has become known for its hand-made artisan-grade pipes. I found this summary of lines and grading on Pipephil.eu:
Sizes (ascending): 1K to 4K, G (Giant) and GG (Extra large)
Rusticated grading: SEA ROCK, OLD SEA ROCK, NATURAL VIRGIN,
Sandblasted grading: ANTIQUARI, OLD ANTIQUARI
Smooth grading (ascending): TRADEMARK, CASTELLO, COLLECTION
Other stampings: Great Line (Non-standard or freestyle) Fiammata (Straight grain)
More info on Castello pipes can be found here.
As you can see, the “Castello” line ranks right up there, second only to the Collection line in the Smooth pipes. The G stamp is a Giant size, larger even than last week’s KKKK Oom Paul, making this Bent Billiard a real handful of briar! The pipe measures a relatively standard 5-1/2 inches in length, but the bowl is a whopper at 2-1/4 inches tall and 1-1/2 inches wide. The chamber bore is 7/8 inches in diameter and just shy of 2 inches deep.
Here is how the pipe looked when I started working on it. As you can see, the pipe was in pretty good shape, though it had obviously been a favourite. The finish was a bit hazy, and the rim was nearly covered by a coat of lava. The chamber needed a good reaming, but the stem showed very little wear – no surprise when you consider that clenching this 2-1/2 ounce brute would pull your dentures out!
The pipe is stamped “Castello” over “‘Castello'” and “G” on the left shank, and “Made in Cantu” over “Italy” on the right. The bottom of the shank carries two more stamps, a capital “N” and “Carlo” over “Scotti” in an oval. The stem is marked “Handmade” over “Castello” on the bottom, and is inset with the Castello White Bar logo on top.
I started off the cleaning by using pipe cleaners and alcohol to clear the tars and buildup from the stem’s airway. There was a lump of crud stuck to the concave tenon face when I started, but everything cleaned up beautifully. The acrylic stem does not oxidize so no need for an Oxyclean bath this time.
Moving next to the stummel, I reamed the chamber back to briar, an exercise what took much longer than I had anticipated. The cake was very hard and compacted. It took both reamer and sandpaper wrapped around a dowel to clear it all out. Thankfully, the cake had done its job; underneath it all, the briar was in excellent condition.
I used 600-grit wet sandpaper on the topping board to very gently scour away the lava crust from the rim, being careful not to remove any briar. The lava came away nicely, leaving a pristine rim behind. There was just a bit more work to be done when I snapped the second pic. I finished up with a course of Micromesh sanding pads to bring up the natural colour of the briar and raise the shine.
With the major exterior cleaning complete, I turned to the stummel’s internals, scrubbing away the tars and debris from the shank and airway with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in alcohol.
As one could predict, the pipe, though now cleaner than when I started, still smelled of old tobacco. To tone things down and freshen the briar, I set the stummel up with an alcohol treatment, stuffing the chamber and shank with cotton wool before filling the pipe with alcohol. I set it aside to soak overnight and called it a day.
My initial cleaning seems to have been pretty thorough, as the cotton wool was only slightly discoloured when I came back to the shop the next morning. I pulled the cotton out and tidied the internals with a fresh pipe cleaner before setting the pipe aside again to let the residual alcohol evaporate.
As the marks on the stem were very minor, I elected to take the entire pipe to the buffer at this point, where it received a run of Red Tripoli and White Diamond buffing compounds that erased the small handling marks and brought up the shine. I finished this refurbishment off with a few light coats of Carnauba wax to shine and protect the pipe.
The finished pipe is refreshed and ready to find its next steward. If you are a fan of larger pipes and love to make your pipe friends jealous, this Castello G may just have a place in your rack! Despite its size, the pipe is nicely balanced in the hand and certainly has the capacity for a nice long, relaxing smoke. The briar is a rather pretty mix of cross-grain, quilting and a touch of Birdseye in a handsome natural finish. The acrylic stem will never oxidize or become bitter in the mouth and I quite like the Castello button, which is slightly concave on the end for comfort.
If you’d like to add this Castello G Bent Billiard to your own collection, or perhaps present it as a lovely gift to a fellow pipe smoker, it is available now on the Pipe Inventory page.
Thanks for following along with this quick estate pipe refresh. Until next time, Happy Piping!
Here’s the finished pipe.