Restorations, Uncategorized

New Life for a Gardesana Pecher Bent Egg Mini-Warden

This pipe caught my eye recently while digging through my box of refurbs-in-waiting. Made by Gardesana, this “Pecher” series Bent Egg is what I call a Mini-Warden, a pipe fitted with a shorter version of a Churchwarden stem.

Here is the pipe as it looked when I first brought it to the worktable. Overall, it was in good estate condition. Though dirty and dusty, the pipe was at least whole, with no breaks or other obvious damage. The stem logo looked a bit worse for wear under a heavy layer of oxidation, and some tooth chatter presented on both sides of the slender bit.

The pipe is stamped with “Gardesana” (arched) over a half circle that looks a bit like a rising sun, followed by “Pecher”. The left flank of the vulcanite shank extension is marked with a “G”.

Interestingly, when I went to remove the stem, the vulcanite shank extension came away with it. I’d glue it back into place eventually, but for now it allowed me to drop both the shank extension and the stem into an Oxyclean bath to raise and soften the oxidation.

While the parts soaked in their bath, I worked to clean out the old tars and gunk from the stummel. I used a small pile of cotton swabs dipped in alcohol to clean out the shank mortise and airway. More alcohol on a cotton pad removed the dust, dirt and old wax from the exterior of the briar.

The stummel was in very good shape under the dirt but the finish had chipped in a few spots, notably around the rim, so I hit the briar with a coat of Fiebing’s Dark Brown leather dye to even things out. After the dye had dried, I buffed away the excess with an old towel then applied a light coat of mineral oil to refresh the briar and deepen the finish.

I allowed the mineral oil to sit on the briar for a few minutes, then I buffed away the excess and set the stummel aside to rest while I worked on the stem. The oxidation had softened in the Oxyclean bath, so I scrubbed it away with a scrap of 0000 steel wool and finished off by going over the stem and shank extension with Magic Eraser. A few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol cleared out the tars and oils from the airway and slot.

The Oxyclean bath does a good job of removing oxidation but it leaves the surface of the vulcanite slightly rough to the touch. A once-over with wet sandpapers in 220 through 2000 grit smoothed things out and started the polishing process.

The time in the Oxy bath also softened whatever tars or other gunk had stuck the stem so firmly into the shank extension. It was now possible to twist out the slender stem, which made polishing the rim of the shank extension much easier.

To reassemble the pipe, I roughed up the shank extension’s tenon with 220-grit sandpaper, then applied a small amount of thick CA glue before re-mounting the extension in the end of the shank. When the glue set, I took the entire pipe to the buffer where I gave the briar a light run of White Diamond compound while the stem and shank extension received a heavier buffing with Red Tripoli and White Diamond to remove the last of the sanding marks and bring up the shine. Then the entire pipe received a light polishing with Carnauba wax to shine and protect the revived finish.

The renewed pipe is really quite pretty now. The Bent Egg shape has always been a favourite of mine, and this Gardesana Pecher is a nice example. There is enough variation in the sandblast finish to make the briar interesting visually, and the flared shank provides a welcome counterfoil to the long, slender stem.

This pipe is fresh and waiting to serve a new steward. If you’ve been wanting a well-made Italian Mini-Warden to add to your rack and rotation, this Gardesana Pecher is available on the Pipe Inventory page now.

Thanks for joining me for this refurbishment. I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did.

Until next time, Happy Piping! Here’s the finished pipe.