The next pipe on the worktable I acquired in January of 2017 from a seller in Akron, Ohio. I’ve enjoyed working on several Jeantet pipes of Saint Claude, France, in the past, but never one as large as this pipe. It was designated a ‘Jumbo’ in the eBay information. The information also confirmed what the picture showed that the saddle stem was undersized for the sharp vertically rusticated stummel. It obviously was not the original stem. I was still attracted to the Jumbo Jeantet stummel and after the closing bid was successful, the pipe made its way to me, and it was posted in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection for pipe men and women to commission. Here’s the French Jeantet Jumbo that got my attention on the eBay site:This Jeantet, along with a sculpted briar Calabash shape, caught Brandon’s attention in the ‘Pipe Dreamers’ collection and he reached out to me. During our communications back and forth about the pipes that whispered his name, I found out that he is a career navy man and will be retiring within the next few years. I shared with Brandon that my eldest son had served in the US Navy as a submariner based in Norfolk, VA. Brandon’s response was that he also serves in this arena of the navy – a small world. I am profoundly grateful for the service of these who have put their lives on the line to preserve our freedoms and I expressed this to Brandon. I appreciate also that Brandon commissioned these pipes which benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.
I’m currently on the road with my wife in our travel trailer after visiting my ‘navy son’ and his wife in Dearborn, Michigan, from Golden, Colorado. We’ve traveled northward and enjoyed Mackinaw Island and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and now we are near Hastings, Minnesota, with other family members. Mackinaw Island was an amazing place to visit with the entire island’s prohibition on motorized vehicles. The only ‘vehicles’ on the street are horse drawn carts and wagons (taxis, Amazon Delivery….) and bicycles. The period ‘feel’ of all the houses, hotels and promenades reminded me of the movie, Great Gatsby.Here are some additional pictures of the Jeantet Jumbo on the ‘mobile restoration’ worktable.The nomenclature on the underside panel is distinct. A flourished ‘J’ begins the ‘JEANTET’ [over] BRUYERE [over an enlarged] JUMBOS [over] SINCE 1807. To the right is stamped the shape number ‘960’ and further to the right is the COM: MADE IN FRANCE. There is a blemish over the COM which obscures some of the ‘MAD—– FRANCE’. I’m hopeful that the blemish will clean off and has not damaged the briar.To learn more about the stamping harkening back to 1807, the Pipedia Jeantet article references this date with the early production of the Jeantet name:
The firm of the Jeantet family in Saint-Claude is first mentioned as early as 1775. By 1807 the Jeantets operated a turnery producing in particular wooden shanks for porcelain pipes and wild cherry wood pipes. The firm was named Jeantet-David in 1816, and in 1837 the enterprise was transformed into a corporation as collective name for numerous workshops scattered all over the city.
The early development of the Jeantet manufacturing is described in the same Pipedia article:
The manufacturing of briar pipes and began in 1858. 51 persons were employed by 1890. Desirous to concentrate the workers at a single site, the corporation began to construct a factory edifying integrated buildings about 1891 at Rue de Bonneville 12 – 14. This took several years. In 1898 Maurice Jeantet restructured the business. He is also presumed to enlarge Jeantet factory purchasing a workshop adjoining southerly. It belonged to the family Genoud, who were specialized in rough shaping of stummels and polishing finished pipes. (In these times it was a most common procedure to carry goods from here to there and back again often for certain steps of the production executed by dependant family based subcontractors. Manpower was cheap.)
The decline of Jeantet is chronicled during the 1960/70s:
The climax of the pipe production was reached around 1969, when thirty to thirty-five thousand dozens of pipes were made by 72 workers (1969). But then the production continuously dwindled to only six or seven thousand dozens in 1987 and only 22 workers were still there. Even though, around 1979 a very modern steam powered facility for drying the briar had been installed in the factory’s roofed yard.
The last commentary on Jeantet comes from Pipephil.eu:
The company joined the Cuty-Fort Entreprises group (Chacom, Ropp, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1992. In 2010 it dropped out and the brand isn’t part of the group any more. The label is owned by the Jeantet family (Dominique Jeantet) again. The pipe production is discontinued. Dominique Jeantet retired in 2000.
I was fortunate to find a reference to the Jeantet ‘Jumbos’ in Pipedia’s small article devoted to Jeantet. The photograph referencing the Jumbos pipe production line is referenced in a 1980 Jeantet catalog (courtesy Doug Valitchka). Of special interest is the description of the “needle carved satin grain” which matches the Jeantet stummel to a ‘T’. This intricately carved rustication is described as ‘needle carved’ which is the finish characteristic that drew me to the mismatched stummel on the eBay auction block. The fact that the stummel was also HUGE was frosting on the proverbial cake.Looking more closely at the condition of the Jeantet Jumbo stummel, the chamber has moderately thick carbon cake build up which needs to be cleared to allow fresh briar to emerge.The rim has lava flow primarily on the shank side that covers the ‘needle carved’ rusticated finish (see above picture and below).The stummel surface, other than needing to be cleaned, looks good. The exception to this is on the right side of the shank which shows a large hole/chip in the rusticated finish. This chip needs to be filled and to emulate the rusticated finish.The mismatched stem will be replaced with this new precast twin bore tapered stem which has a large diameter at the tenon facing that will be nicely matched to the Jumbo’s shank.To begin the restoration of the Jeantet Jumbo Billiard, the chamber is reamed to clear away the carbon cake. The Jumbo stummel measures 2 inches high and the rim is 1 1/2 inches. The ample chamber width is 13/16 inches and depth is 1 7/8 inches. The cleaning begins by using 3 of the 4 available blade heads from the Pipnet Reaming Kit. Following this, the Savinelli Fitsall Tool is used to further scrape the chamber walls. Finally, the chamber is sanded with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.After clearing away the cake, a quick inspection of the chamber walls reveals healthy briar.Next, the external stummel surface is cleaned using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad.To address the rim lava flow, a brass brush is used which provides more muscle in cleaning but remains gentler on the briar. A cotton pad scrubs the rusticated briar surface.From the worktable, the stummel is taken to the sink and using hottish water, the internals are scrubbed with shank brushes and anti-oil, liquid dishwashing soap. After a thorough rinsing, the stummel returns to the worktable.Continuing with the cleaning of the internals, many cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99% are used to clean the mortise and airway. A small dental spoon is also utilized to scrape the mortise walls to excavate the tars and oils. After many cotton buds and pipe cleaners are expended, they begin to lighten, and I call this phase completed. To continue the internal cleaning and to refresh the internal briar, a kosher salt and alcohol soak is used. The kosher salt has no aftertaste unlike regular iodized salt. A cotton ball is used to form a ‘wick’ by stretching and twisting it. With the help of a stiff wire, the wick is guided down the mortise and airway. The bowl is then filled with kosher salt and placed in an egg crate to provide stability and to position the stummel so that the rim and end of the shank are roughly level. Using a large eye dropper, isopropyl 99% fills the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.After about 10 minutes, after the alcohol has absorbed into the salt and wick, it is topped off once more. The stummel is put aside for several hours to allow the soak to have maximum effect. After several hours, the soak has done the job. The salt and cotton wick show the soiling of the tars and oils drawn out of the internal briar. After the expended salt is tossed in the waste, the bowl is wiped with paper towel, and blowing through the mortise helps to clear any salt crystals left behind. To make sure all is clean, a couple cotton buds wetted in isopropyl 99% confirm that the internals are clean. A whiff of the bowl also confirms the freshness of the briar ready for a new steward. Moving on.My wife and I say goodbye to family members in Minnesota and continue our trek back to Colorado. That day we camped near the South Dakota town of Mitchel. Not a large town amid the horizon-to-horizon cornfields, Mitchel’s claim to fame was the presence of the Corn Palace – a building on the main street of Mitchel which shows off annually t themed murals made of tens of 1000s differing corn cobs. It was an amazing and interesting place to visit and to discover that it was part of this town’s history since 1892. It was originally built to convince skeptics that corn will grow in South Dakota and to attract settlers. As the centerpiece of the annual ‘Corn Palace Festival’, I was amazed that the festival has brought in the likes of William Jennings Bryan (1900), John Philip Sousa Band (1904), Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra (1908), Jimmy Dorsey (1938), Tommy Dorsey (1947), Lawrence Welk (1948), Duke Ellington (1953), Patti Page (1956), Bob Hope (1976), Willie Nelson (2003) and Blake Shelton (2009) – and many,many more than what I list (See: Past Entertainment | Mitchell Corn Palace, SD). We made it safely back to Golden and after unpacking the pipe tools and supplies, I continue work on the Jeantet. The next step in the process is to fit and shape the dual bore tapered replacement stem. I like the full shape of the Jumbo stummel, and the shank is also stout. The tapered stem will look good mounted on the large stummel. The first step is to size and fit the precast stem’s tenon into the mortise.
Measuring the mortise, an electronic caliper is a good tool to have in the chest. The reading for the mortise width is about 9.03mm. To be on the safe side, I aim for a cut of the tenon at about 9.50mm. A quick measurement of the raw tenon diameter is 13.31mm. About 4mm needs to be removed from the tenon’s width. The PIMO Tenon Turning Tool (TTT) is used to plane down the diameter of the tenon. The first step is to use the drill bit provided to drill the tenon airway to widen it to be able to receive the TTT’s guide pin. With the airway widened, the TTT is mounted onto the hand drill. I first cut a wide test cut simply to round the tenon. The result of the test cut leaves a 12.06mm width. I’m aiming for about 9.50mm to leave the tenon ‘fat’ from the mortise measurement of 9.03mm. At this point I will transition to sanding to customize the tenon for the Jeantet mortise. Patience is the name of the game. Using the hex wrenches provided in the PIMO Tool, the carbide cutting blade is adjusted incrementally to close the diameter of the cut. After several adjustments and cuts, my measurements indicate that I’m getting close to the 9.50mm width. When it gets close, the adjustment becomes less reliable because there’s not a lot of room for error. With a measurement of 9.92mm, I only need to take off a small amount. After adjusting the carbide cutter arm, I do a small test cut just to make sure I haven’t closed the cutting arm too much. The measurement of the test cut width is too close for comfort at 9.08mm. After widening the cutting arm a small amount, another measurement is closer than I had planned at 9.16mm, but still fat enough to allow sanding to properly seat the tenon. Transitioning to sanding, 240 grade sanding paper is used. Wrapping the paper around the tenon, the tenon is sanded gradually with several test inserts into the mortise. The aim is to keep the tenon as close to a cylinder as possible. The tendency is to sand the tenon into a cone with the end narrower than the base. With the fit getting closer to seating the tenon, the end of the tenon is still rough from the pre-casting process. Using a flat needle file, the end of the tenon is filed and smoothed. With several more sanding cycles and fittings, the stem is seated into the shank. The facings between the shank and stem look to be tight with no gapping. As I take a closer look at the fitting, only then do I see that the stem is royally bent to the left and not straight – ugh. In the picture below the stem bends downwardly. The bend is more pronounced looking from the steward’s perspective. The good news is that this stem is made of rubber and rubber can be heated and refashioned. Before proceeding with sanding the stem to smooth it and to bring the oversized tenon facing into alignment with the shank, the stem needs to be straightened. To be on the safe side, a pipe cleaner is inserted into the airway to guard the airway integrity. Using the hot air gun, the mid part of the stem is warmed until it becomes supple. I then place the pipe on its side with the left bend down so that it is bowed upwardly. Gentle pressure is then applied downwardly to straighten the stem. I’m able to eyeball the orientation of the stem and it looks good. Holding the stem at the straightened orientation, the stem is then taken to the sink where cool tap water sets the vulcanite in place. I wasn’t satisfied with the results the first time around and did the same process again. The second time hit the bull’s eye. Taking another picture from the steward’s perspective, the stem has improved and is as straight as I’m able to do it. Moving on. The next step is to sand down the stem so that the flow from the shank to the stem is aligned and seamless. Before sanding, the shank is wrapped with painter’s tape to protect it. To sand, a coarse 120 grade sandpaper is used. The goal is not just to sand the stem so that the enlarged edge is removed, but also the stem must be sanded to taper smoothly and proportionately and to remove the seams of the pre-cast stem. Another picture shows the starting point. It takes quite a bit of time, but the sanding with 120 did the heavy lifting. The transition from shank to stem is smooth and the stem looks proportionately tapered – no bulges giving it a ‘stuffed pants’ appearance. The first picture is from the side then looking down. Next, the bit area is shaped with a flat needle file and 120 sanding paper. Even though the stem is new, the pre-cast seams need to be removed and roughness on the button facing.Next, the stem is sanded with 240 grade paper to further smooth and remove the scratching left behind by the filing and 120 paper. Before departing from the 240 grade paper, I remove the painter’s tape to check the alignment of the shank/stem transition. If there remains a lip created by the thickness of the tape, then I have more sanding to do. Complicating the sanding too, is that the round shank makes it difficult to maintain the ‘up/down’ orientation of the stem. The flat briar panel on the underside should result in a flattened plane transitioning to the stem as well. Taking off the tape, I discover that more sanding is necessary. The two pictures below (upper then lower) show the thin lip remaining – the thickness of the tape around the shank. I add only one layer of painter’s tape around the shank to protect it and hopefully to allow the sanding to remove more of the lip. Continuing sanding with 240 paper, I focus on continuing the flattened plane which transitions from the underside of the shank. This will help to identify the stem’s ‘up/down’ orientation. The lip has been removed as much as I am able now. These pictures of the upper and lower transitions show the results after the removal of the tape. To be on the safe side, I apply a layer of painter’s tape around the shank and continue the sanding by wet sanding with 600 grade paper. Then the tape is removed as the 600 grade paper is followed by the application of 0000 grade steel wool. On a roll, the sanding is continued with the full regimen of micromesh pads by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400. This is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. To condition the vulcanite and to guard against oxidation, Obsidian Oil is applied between each set of 3 pads. I love the newly polished vulcanite emerging! With the stem’s primary sanding completed, my attention now turns back to the stummel. There are two issues shown in the picture below. There is something covering the COM, Made in France, which the primary cleaning did not remove. Below this in the picture is a large divot out of the right side of the shank. First, addressing the COM blemish, I use a cotton pad with isopropyl 99% to focus scrub the blemish. I also expand the cleaning over the entire smooth briar panel. I also go over the blemish lightly with the 1500 grade micromesh pad. What I discover is that the COM was stamped over a fill in the briar. The fill seems sturdy, so it is left alone. Switching to the divot on the shank, the repair is not as straight forward as might appear. The goal is for the patch to emulate the ‘needle carved’ rusticated surface. The hole will be filled with CA glue mixed with activated charcoal powder. I’m using the charcoal mix and not using straight black CA glue to create more texture in the patch. To fill the hole, a sharp dental probe digs out any loose fill material. Following this, it is cleaned with alcohol and a cotton pad. A small puddle of regular clear CA glue is placed on a plastic disk after scotch tape is put down to help with clean up. Next to the glue a small amount of activated charcoal powder is placed. Using a toothpick, a small amount of the charcoal is added to the glue and mixed. More charcoal is pulled into the mixture until the mixture thickens to about the consistency of molasses. The toothpick is then used to trowel a small amount of the mixture to fill the hole. The stummel is then put aside to allow the patch to cure. After the patch has cured, a squared needle file is used to file the patch down close to flush with the rusticated surface. I’ve thought a bit about how to emulate the fine rustication to blend the patch. The idea I came up with was to use the brass wired brush tool on the rotary tool. I’m hopeful that applying the brush could emulate the fine brush strokes – or come closer to blending the patch. With the brush mounted on the rotary tool, I begin with a slow speed to see how the patch would react. After a bit of testing, I speed up the rotary tool and work the patch keeping the brush going parallel with the surrounding rustication. I like the results. There are vertical strokes running through the patch which should help to mask and blend the patch area. The next step is to freshen the black rusticated stummel. Applying black dye to refresh the stummel will also cover the lightened area around the patch repair. The following pictures show the areas on the stummel especially in need of a new application of dye. To do this, Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye will be used. After the dye components are assembled on the table, the entire stummel is wiped with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean before applying the dye. Next, the stummel is warmed with a hot air gun. Warming the stummel helps the briar to be more receptive to the dye pigment. Using a folded pipe cleaner, the black aniline dye is applied to swatches of the large, rusticated surface and then ‘flamed’ with a lit candle. The flame combusts the wet dye’s alcohol base and leaves behind the dye pigment. After methodically applying the dye over the entire stummel, the stummel is put aside for several hours for the dye to settle. With the dye settling for several hours completed, the next step is to remove the excess flamed dye from the finely carved rusticated finish. A cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the rotary tool with the speed set to about 40% full power. The more abrasive Tripoli compound is then applied to the stummel. Unlike ‘unwrapping’ a smooth briar pipe, there is no grain to bring out in contrast with a rusticated finish, so a cotton cloth wheel is used instead of a felt wheel, which has more abrasive action. The goal is to clear the excess dye crust and not remove the primary dye pigment. After the round of Tripoli compound, a cotton pad wetted with alcohol is used lightly to wipe the stummel surface to help to blend the new dye as well as to remove excess. Not shown in the picture is that I use a cotton cloth to rub the stummel surface briskly to continue removing excess dye. I do this to minimize the dye leaching onto the hands of the new steward after the pipe is put into service. Another cotton cloth wheel is mounted on the rotary tool, and at the same speed, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the stummel and the reunited stem. After application of Blue Diamond compound, the pipe is again given a brisk rub down with a felt cloth to remove compound dust from the rustication. I do this in preparation for application of the wax which is next. With another cotton cloth wheel mounted on the rotary tool at the same speed, carnauba wax is applied to stem and stummel. The wax is kept very light so not to foul the rustication with excess wax. Once wax is applied to the entire pipe, a microfiber cloth is used to give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to remove excess wax and to raise the shine. The stark black presentation of this Jeantet Jumbo Billiard evokes a stout persona. The fine needle carved satin grain adds an attractive, soft texturing that allows the eye to focus into the darkened landscape. Jeantet dubbed this line ‘Jumbos’ for a reason. With the marriage of the replacement twin bore tapered stem, the Jumbo’s dimensions are: Length: 6 3/8 inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Rim width: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber width: 7/8 inches, and Chamber depth: 1 7/8 inches. The weight of this Jeantet Jumbo is 54 grams. Navy man, Brandon, saw the potential of this Jeantet Jumbo Billiard and commissioned him. As the commissioner, he has the first opportunity to acquire the Jeantet Jumbo from The Pipe Steward Store which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Thanks for joining me!