A Quick Cleanup for an Aldo Velani Corona 02 Rhodesian

I acquired three Aldo Velani pipes as part of a recent estate purchase; the first needed very little work and is already available on the Pipe Inventory page. The third pipe needs some more substantial help to get back into fighting shape and will be the subject of another blog post.

Today, I’m dealing with the second of the three pipes, a handsome Velani Corona shape 02 Rhodesian. As this series of pictures shows, the pipe was in pretty good shape when I brought it to the worktable. The finish was a bit dull and there was some flaky lava around the edges of the smooth rim, but the biggest issue, at least on first inspection, was a greasy, scratched up stem.

The pipe is marked “Velani” in script over “Corona” in block letters over “02” on the left shank, and “Italy” in block letters on the bottom of the shank. The stem is stamped with the conjoined Aldo Velani “AV” logo.

Unfamiliar with the brand, I looked to Pipedia for enlightenment. It’s a bit scant, but

Most Aldo Velani pipes are made in Livorno, Italy, for the USA market by Cesare Barontini. They were previously imported by Lane Limited. Lane spokesman Frank Blews once described Velani’s stylish, intrinsically Italian designs as “Billiards with more ball, bulldogs with more jaw.” The name “Aldo Velani” is actually fictional.

I twisted the stem off the shank and ran a few alcohol-dipped pipe cleaners through the airway. The stem was surprisingly clean.

You can see in this pic that the stem and tenon are two separate pieces. The stem is black acrylic, while the tenon is, I believe, Delrin.

One modification I make to most estate pipes passing across my worktable is to funnel the end of the tenon to improve air flow through the pipe. This is a small change that can make a big difference to a pipe’s smoking characteristics. A quick second with a countersink bit in the drill did the trick.

With the stem mostly sorted, I moved to the stummel, reaming a decent amount of old cake form the chamber. The briar looked good underneath.

Next up was to attack a surprising amount of old tars and gunk lurking in the stummel’s shank and airway. Pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in alcohol eventually got it all out.

If you look closely at the above pic, you’ll notice some old wax jammed into the bowl’s twin rings. I cleaned them out with a dental pick before wiping the stummel down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the surface grease, dirt and wax. Most of what you see on the cotton pad in the pic is carbon “lava” removed from the rim.

Moving back to the stem, I wet-sanded the acrylic to 2000-grit to smooth out some tooth chatter and erase a multitude of small handling marks.

Then it was time to reassemble the pipe and take it to the buffer. I hit the stem with Red Tripoli to erase the sanding scratches and then gave the entire pipe a light buff on the White Diamond wheel to bring up the shine. A few light coats of Carnauba wax added even more shine and a layer of protection for the refreshed pipe.

This eye-catching Velani Corona 02 Rhodesian is clean, fresh and waiting for its next pipe steward. The orange-peel rustication is nicely tactile in the hand, and the rounded bulge of the briar and brass shank extension give the smoker a natural place to grip the pipe during use and balances out the overall shape as it flows from the diamond-shaped bowl around to the curved saddle stem.

If you’d like to add this handsome Italian Rhodesian to your rack and rotation, or perhaps start your Christmas shopping early, this Velani Corona is available on the Pipe Inventory page now.

Thanks for following along with this quick estate pipe cleanup. Until next time, Happy Piping!

Here’s the finished pipe.