New Life for a Worn Old Pal Canadian

I was temporarily between projects the other day so I dug down to the bottom of my refurb box and came out with an old, well worn Canadian stummel. I brought it to the table and snapped this series of pics.

Judging by the cleanliness of the chamber, I’ll suggest that this stummel was never really smoked. It may have been enjoyed once or twice but the biggest issue with the chamber was dust rather than carbon. The finish was very faded, but the stummel was otherwise in good shape, without a lot of dents or dings.

I wiped the top of the oval shank with a bit of water and managed to find the remains of a stamp – “Old Pal” over an eagle logo.

I’ll admit up front that I wasn’t too concerned whether the very faded stamp survived the restoration or not. Old Pal is a French brand owned by Marechal Ruchon & Cie, the same company that owns the GBD brand, so there is decent lineage there, but Old Pal, I believe, is/was sold as a less expensive pipe. Regardless, the stamp on this old stummel was just about gone.

Obviously the stummel needed a stem, so I went back to my supplies and dug around a bit more before coming up with a small, used, oval taper stem that would suit.

The stem’s tenon was too small for the shank mortise, so I prepared to cut it off and replace it with a larger Delrin tenon. Before I did that, though, I had a good look at the shank mortise and discovered that it had been mis-drilled at least once in the past. To correct this, I mounted the stummel in the drill press and after lining everything up, I drilled out the mortise to a slightly larger diameter and sized the new Delrin tenon to fit.

I drilled out the stem face to accept the new tenon and countersunk the leading end of the Delrin blank to ease the flow of air through the pipe. A bit of JB Weld epoxy secured the new tenon in the stem face. After applying the epoxy, I clamped the pipe upright in the vise and held the stem in position until the glue started to grab hold.

As you can see in the last pic above, the stem was slightly narrower than the shank. This necessitated some reshaping of the shank, accomplished with files and sandpaper. Note that, though the pics show the stem and stummel separately, the reshaping was done with the stem mounted to ensure a smooth transition.

After wet-sanding the pipe to 2000 grit, I re-stained the briar, first with Fiebing’s Black leather dye.I let the dye dry, then removed as much as I could, leaving it only i the grain. A diluted wash coat of Fiebing’s Saddle Tan dye followed, adding enough colour to bring out the briar’s natural red tones without covering up the grain.

A light wiping with mineral oil injected some moisture into the briar and gave the new finish depth and pop. Before final buffing, I decided to add a bit of bling (and insurance) by installing a nickel shank band. Re-drilling the shank mortise had thinned the briar walls a bit more than I was comfortable with, so a band seemed a wise choice.

Then I took the finished pipe to the buffer for a run on the Red Tripoli and White Diamond wheels. A few light coats of Carnauba wax added shine and protection for the newly refinished pipe.

The finished pipe looks nothing like the worn, faded stummel I started with. The briar is fresh, clean and boasts some very pretty grain, including quite a bit of cross-grain and a constellation of birdseye spread across the bowl’s left face. The “new” stem shines a glossy black and looks like it has always been part of this classically elegant Canadian.

I’m not quite sure where this pipe will end up. The Canadian shape has always been a favourite of mine, so I’m tempted to hold on to this one for a while. On the other hand, there’s a good chance that it will eventually be added to the Pipe Inventory page, so if Canadian shapes are your thing, you may want to check in regularly to see what’s available.

Thanks for joining me for this estate pipe restoration. It was a fun diversion for me while it lasted, but it’s time to get back to work on other projects. Until next time, Happy Piping!

Here’s the finished pipe. (Please excuse the bits of fluff caught in the stem/shank junction. Apparently I was in too much of a hurry to take pictures to clean up the fuzz first.)