Unlike the vast majority of estate pipes that pass across my worktable, whether found at antique shops, estate sales or, like this pipe, sent in by their current stewards, there was actually nothing wrong with this Savinelli Veritas 316KS when it arrived in my mailbox. Instead, it had been sent to me for a bit of regular maintenance.
The 316 is an interesting, almost hybrid, shape, described by Savinelli as a Bent Dublin. The bowl is certainly conical, but the soft curves, crowned rim, oval shank and wide, comfortable bit make the 316 something, well, more than your average Bent Dublin shape.
Here is the pipe as it looked when it first arrived on the worktable. The finish was a bit dirty and faded, especially on the sides of the bowl where the piper held the pipe during a smoke. A light but manageable cake lined the chamber walls, with a flare of carbon lava starting to climb up the rear wall. The oval acrylic stem was in overall great condition, with just a little light tooth chatter marring the surfaces behind the button on top and bottom.
As the last pic above shows, this Savinelli is set up to use 9mm filters. Regardless of brand or filter style, I always recommend smoking a filtered pipe with either the correct filter or an adapter installed. This ensures that the pipe performs as the manufacturer intended and also avoids the accumulation of tars and other muck in the filter housing.
This pic shows that this pipe has most likely been smoked with a filter in place. It took me only two pipe cleaners and one cotton swab dipped in alcohol to get the internals clean.
While I had the stem in hand, I used a scrap of 600-grit wet sandpaper to smooth out the tooth chatter near the button. A small divot remained in the bottom stem surface after sanding, so I drop-filled the area with a bit of regular CA glue. I let the glue cure, then sanded everything smooth to 2000-grit.
Moving on to the stummel, I cleaned the carbon lava from the inner rim with a bit of 0000 steel wool, scrubbing lightly to avoid removing the finish underneath the dirt. The carbon cake from inside the chamber came away easily with a bit of sandpaper wrapped around a dowel.
For conical bowls, I often find the sandpaper approach much easier than my reamer set, which is made for U-shaped chambers. The reamer heads can cut steps into the chamber walls if you’re not careful, so I stick to sandpaper for these Dublins.
I wiped the exterior of the stummel with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the old wax and dirt from the briar surface. The second pic below shows that the finish on the sides of the bowl was still patchy, so I scrubbed the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a toothbrush. This took care of the residual waxes, grease and oils clinging to the briar.
Now that the outside of the pipe was clean, I dealt with the internals. Like the stem, the shank and airway were really quite clean. I chased the airway with a pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol, then filled the bowl and shank with cotton wool.
I used an eye-dropper to add alcohol to the bowl until the cotton in the shank started to show moisture, then left the pipe overnight for the alcohol to do its work, penetratingly deeply into the briar and dissolving the tars which then get captured in the cotton wool.
When I came back to the shop the following morning, I could see how much gunk came out of the pipe overnight. The cotton in both bowl and shank had discoloured to a yucky nicotine yellow. This helps to illustrate the importance of giving your pipes some attention on a regular basis.
To inject a bit of moisture back into the briar and enliven the finish, I gave the stummel a light wipe with mineral oil. I let the oil sit on the briar for just a few moments before hand buffing away the excess with a towel.
I gave the pipe some time to rest before bringing it to the buffer for final polishing. A run on the Red Tripoli wheel erased the sanding scratches from the stem before I polished the entire pipe on the White Diamond wheel. A few light coats of Carnauba wax completed this project.
I am always surprised by the difference a quick ream, clean and polish makes to a pipe. Just like a car, a pipe performs at its best and is more enjoyable to use when it is clean. Better yet, everything I did to this pipe can be done by anyone at home with basic supplies. No buffer? Similar results can also be achieved without a buffer using products like Paragon and Halcyon II waxes.
Thanks for joining me for a bit of pipe maintenance refresher training. I hope this post encourages you to show your own pipes a bit of love. Until next time, Happy Piping!
Here’s the finished pipe.