A Quick Cleanup of a Savinelli Extra Lumberman

Not all estate pipe restorations are long, involved processes requiring specialized equipment – thankfully – yet even simple cleanup jobs can have remarkable outcomes. Such was the case for this Savinelli Extra Lumberman that recently passed through the shop.

As this first series of pics shows, the pipe wasn’t in bad shape when it arrived on the worktable, but it needed a general sprucing up. The pipe has a layer of dust and grime over the entire exterior, the rim was hidden under a crust of carbon “lava”, and the short oval taper stem was heavily oxidized. The stem would also not seat completely in the shank mortise.

The pipe is stamped in there separate places on the underside of the long, two-piece shank with “Savinelli” in an oval over “Extra”, then “Lumberman” in block letters, and finally “Italy” on the stem side of the shank splice. The stem carried a faded Crown logo on top of the stem near the stem face.

Here is a close-up shot of that shank splice. The rustication on each side of the joint is meant to help disguise the splice, but the briar had dried out with age and a few years of disuse, causing a hairline crack to open. Structurally sound, I left the shank joint as found. The briar should swell slightly after a few smokes, which should tighten the joint naturally. Fiddling with it now could create more issues than it solves.

I removed the stem from the shank and dropped it into a bath of Oxyclean and warm water to soak while I worked on the stummel. Cleanup there began with a good reaming of the chamber to remove the old cake. A bit of sandpaper wrapped around a marker helped to tidy things up after the reamer had done its job. I used a few cotton swabs, wetted with good old saliva, to scrub the carbon lava from the rim. Saliva is full of natural enzymes that cut through the carbon fairly easily. Unlike alcohol or other stronger cleaners, saliva will not damage the finish under the carbon.

I did pull out the 99% isopropyl alcohol to clean the stummel’s shank and airway. As you can see in the pic below, the first few pipe cleaners dipped i alcohol came out quite dark with old tars. To completely sanitize and deodorize the pipe, I packed cotton wool into the chamber and shank before filling the pipe with more isopropyl alcohol.

To ensure continuous coverage through the long shank, I slid a pipe cleaner down the airway as well.

I left the stummel to sit overnight to give the alcohol time to work its magic. When I came back to the bench the following morning, there was a striking difference. The snowy white cotton had absorbed quite a lot of brown tar.

I removed the spent cotton and ran a fresh pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol through the shank to clean out any last stray tars, then finished the exterior cleaning of this Lumberman by scrubbing the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap.

I set the stummel aside to rest for a bit, then rescued the stem from its Oxyclean bath. The soak had softened and raised the oxidation to the surface of the Vulcanite stem, making it easy to remove with 0000 steel wool followed by a bit of Magic Eraser. The shallow tooth dents visible in these pics would sand out shortly.

A few more pipe cleaners, a shank brush or two, and more alcohol removed the residual tars from the stem’s airway.

And then it was time to file and sand the dents from the stem. These were quite shallow so I didn’t need to worry about removing too much material.

After the rough work, I switched to progressively finer sandpapers, smoothing and polishing the stem with 220 through 2000 grit abrasives.

When I was happy with the stem, I gave the entire pipe a light wipe with mineral oil to inject some moisture into the briar and give the finish depth and pop. I allowed the oil to sit on the pipe for a minute or so before hand buffing the extra oil away with an old towel.

I like to let a freshly oiled briar sit for at least a few hours before taking it to the buffer. The rest period allows the briar to find its new moisture equilibrium. Another quick hand buffing after the rest ensures that I’m not transferring any excess oil to my buffing wheels.

When I did eventually take this Savinelli Lumberman to the wheel, I buffed the entire pipe with both Red Tripoli and White Diamond compounds, followed by several light coats of Carnauba wax to shine and protect the refreshed pipe.

Though this pipe only received a fairly basic Ream & Clean service, the difference is quite remarkable. Gone are both the carbon lava crust and the layer of grime that were hiding some rather attractive briar underneath. The stummel now glows an attractive honey-brown, and the refreshed stem is a deep, glossy black. Not evident form pictures is the difference in aroma – the stale tobacco smell is gone, replaced by the scent of fresh, clean briar and wax. Much better!

This Savinelli Extra Lumberman has been returned to its owner and is back in regular use.

Thanks for joining me for another estate pipe restoration. This posts illustrates the power of a simple cleanup using basic tools and supplies. I hope it inspires you to try your hand on your own pipes.

As a reminder, here is what the pipe looked like before I started work.

And here is the finished pipe. Quite a change!

Until next time, Happy Piping!