The fifth and final pipe in the Castello lot, an Old Antiquari KKKK Saddle Billiard, was arguably the most difficult of the lot to refurbish, not because of any major flaws or damages, but rather due to its regular, if not favourite, position in the owner’s rotation. While just as well cared for as the rest of the lot, this pipe had obviously seen quite a lot more action than the others.
Here is the pipe as it looked when I brought it to the worktable. The exterior of the pipe was in great shape, though a little dirty and slightly greasy feeling in the hand. The acrylic stem was also dull and crisscrossed with a network of very fine handling marks. (None of these Castello pipes had any tooth damage to deal with – likely because they are all decidedly on the larger side – you’d need jaws of steel to clench any of them!)
Note the black rim surface which seems to fade as it runs down the sides of the bowl. This is not dirt or carbon residue, but rather a Fumee finish (from the French word meaning “smoked”), more commonly seen on meerschaum pipes but rarely on briar.
The underside of the pipe is stamped “Castello” over “Old Antiquari” follwed by “KKKK” in an oval then ‘Made in cantu” over “Italy” and finally “Carlo Scotti” in an oval. The stem is marked “Hand Made” over “Castello” and carries the White Bar logo on top.
I started this refurbishment by reaming the chamber to remove what proved to be some rather dense, hard-packed carbon cake. It took the combined efforts of reamer, pipe knife and sandpaper wrapped around a dowel to purge the cake from the chamber, but underneath it all, the briar was in perfect condition.
Next up was internal cleaning of both stem and stummel. In sharp contrast to some of the other pipes in this lot, I used a considerable pile of pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in alcohol to clear the shank and airways of old tars and debris.
Given the amount of gunk that had been lurking within, I set the stummel up with an alcohol treatment and left it for the night. The next morning, I removed the soiled cotton wool and kosher salt and set the stummel aside briefly to let the alcohol smell dissipate.
Then it was time to rejoin stem and stummel and go to the buffer. I used Red Tripoli and White Diamond compounds on the stem to smooth out the handling marks and bring up the shine, while only giving the stummel a light touch on the White Diamond wheel to avoid packing the sandblasted finish with compound. A few light coats of Carnauba wax finished things off.
The finished pipe, though noticeably cleaner and fresher on the outside, doesn’t look hugely different from when I started working on it. The inside of the pipe,however, is vastly improved now that the old tars, oils and their odours have been eradicated.
This Castello Old Antiquari KKKK Saddle Billiard is now on the hunt for its next pipe steward. If you’d like to add it to your own collection, it is available on the Pipe Inventory page now.
Thanks for joining me for the last post of the Castello Lot. Working on these artisan-grade, hand made pipes has been a real joy for me; I am certain that all five pipes will bring joy to the very lucky pipe smokers that take them on next.
Until next time, Happy Piping! Here’s the finished pipe.