One of the great things and challenging things about the hobby or art of restoring pipes is that it forces one to grow and learn. When Darren approached me about restoring a special pipe, I didn’t realize that this request would stretch me quite like it has. This is what he wrote:
A dear friend recently gifted me an apparently old pipe, which though it’s seen better days, was my 69* year old friend’s grandfather’s pipe. Happy to send you a couple photos…. While not one of your finds, I’m certain my friend would love the story you’d discover, and I’d relish the idea of what you’d do to it. *age correction from original post 🙂
In our communications, I found out more about Darren’s 69-year-old friend whose name is Brian. Brian gifted Darren the pipe in January ’21, and is one of the older men in fellowship at a pipe club that Darren hosts, the Chester County Cigar Club – Holy Smokes which meets in Landenberg, PA. Later I discovered that Brian was born and grew up in the state of Massachusetts. Darren wrote that when he received the gift from Brian, because of the COVID epidemic he had not seen Brian for some time though he had checked in with Brian via email. I appreciated what Darren wrote: “To me, the gift was seeing him, and his delight in giving me this recent discovery in his basement was evident.”
Finding a pipe in a basement – imagining in a rusted coffee can or such, was even better for me! It should truly be a relic of the past. I began to calculate, if the pipe in the basement belonged to Brian’s grandfather, and if Brian has fared the age of 69, an estimate of his grandfather’s birth might be around the 1880s. So, Brian’s grandfather’s possession of the pipe would most likely be in the early part of the 1900s. Perhaps the basement pipe was at least 100 years old! The hook was being set. I found out also from Darren that Brian is a known artist of some distinction. Unsurprising, Brian’s artistic DNA took shape in his children, yet in different ways. Brian also has two sons in the culinary arts serving as chefs in Philadelphia’s finest eating establishments.
Darren had offered to send pictures of the special gift from Brian – the basement pipe, and I accepted his offer. The pictures arrived attached in an email along with a link showing a video Darren had created to show more detail. I was surprised when I saw the pictures. The pipe was not a briar pipe – not even close! Here are the pictures of the basement pipe. I was looking at pictures of a Tyrolean with the bowl made from what I thought might be porcelain with a cherry wood stem. My response after receiving the pictures was to question whether I could accept this challenge, but of course, I was compelled to ask a 101 clarifying questions about what I was seeing. Here is part of what I wrote:
Brian’s gift is quite a gift. Has he told you anything about it? Where it comes from and when/where he got it? My guess would be Austria or Germany is the COM by the looks of the carved theme. I’m assuming it’s a porcelain stummel, yes? It has 1761 on the bottom? Or 60? That date might be helpful in determining the COM because it sets the pipe as a commemorative of sorts if this is a year. The fitments are probably brass or maybe nickel. The stem appears to be cherry wood with the cork insert on one end and the mouthpiece, it’s hard to tell what it’s made of – more cherry? The mouthpiece is chipped, it appears to me, but is it threaded and screws onto the cherry or pressure grip? I’m not sure at all what’s going on there – more pictures might be helpful. Will the mouthpiece come off or is it glued?
To learn more about the pipe’s story, Darren said he would try to connect me with Brian so that I could ask him more questions. I love this detective work. Darren’s response also helped to answer some of the questions I asked. The date shaped on the pipe’s front was 1761 with what appears to be brass hardware and the cherry stem as I suspected. He sent a few more pictures that brought the challenges into focus. The piece that I was calling a ‘mouthpiece’ was actually the ferrule that screws on the end of the cherry stem. The mouthpiece was missing that screws into the top of the threaded ferrule. Here are some of the pictures. When I agreed to have the Tyrolean sent to me to look at more closely, Darren understood that this project was way out of my wheelhouse but that I was willing to see what could be done. I also received a note from Brian that didn’t add too much to understanding the specific provenance of the pipe. Brian discovered the Tyrolean in a box coming from his mother’s house after she passed, and the box remained unopened in the basement for some years. Briar said his assumption was that it came from his grandfather, but he didn’t recall ever seeing his grandfather with the Tyrolean or any other pipe. I was spot on in my estimate of his grandfather’s age, who was born is South Dakota in the late 1800’s. Brian added that one possible connection could be that his grandfather served in Europe during WWI and that may have been when he acquired the pipe. Much mystery will remain with how and when the pipe came into Brian’s family, but it was in the basement box waiting for someone to rediscover him.
At this point with what I have seen so far, the crux of this restoration project would be to either find a replacement ferrule or fix the deteriorating one if that is possible. If this could be done – the ferrule’s restoration, then the next challenge would be to locate another mouthpiece. The rest of the pipe’s restoration appeared to be basic cleaning, conditioning, and shining for the most part.
When the basement pipe Tyrolean arrived here in Golden, I was anxious to hold it in my hands and get a feel for the pipe. I took a few pictures from the worktable. The 1761 minstrel bard is picking the lute and singing his song on a ‘perhaps’ porcelain stummel – I’m not sure whether this is porcelain or another ceramic. This is a question to be answered.The detail on the bowl is expressive, not only with the singing minstrel, but he appears to be sitting on a wall with a traditional tiled house in the background. His song is sung sitting on the 1761. What are the lyrics he sings? What is important about this year – 1761? I don’t believe this date signifies the year of the pipes production but more likely commemorating an important date. Would 1761 be an important year in European history, or perhaps Germany’s or Austria’s – the countries from which Tyrolean pipes predominantly came? This is another question for research. Additionally, can the COM be determined to narrow down the search for the historical significance of 1761?The hinged brass wind cap and brass rim crown are in place and in good working order but deeply tarnished. They are shaped with some detail. The wind cap handle is etched with a diamond weave. The edge of the rim crown is ribboned and the whole brass ensemble is peaked with a sphere – a nice finishing touch.The underside of the wind cap has thick lava buildup from the smoke and oils filtering through the cap latices. The rim crown is also caked with residue from the ages.The brass shank cap with the dangle cord tie off loop mounted to the side is also in good shape except for cleaning. The dangle cord would reach from the stummel and tie off on the stem and mouthpiece to allow the steward to pack his pipe with tobacco and clean his pipe while standing during hunting trips or fishing on the river back in the day. For this utilitarian functionality Tyroleans were also called ‘hunting pipes’. I’m not sure that this genre of Tyrolean made of porcelain, or another ceramic would be used in the bush, but wooden Tyroleans would have been. Both of these brass fitments, wind cap/rim crown and shank cap, seem only to need a good cleaning and shining.A look in the fire chamber reveals some cake build up on the upper portion. This is an indication that this pipe was not on the mantle simply collecting dust. This Tyrolean was a working pipe that was in service and enjoyed much fellowship with his steward. If we’re able to get this guy back on his feet, I’m sure Darren will be glad continue that tradition.During this piece-by-piece survey, when I got to the heart of the restoration, the ferrule, I was fascinated by this question: From what kind of material was it made? From the pictures Darren sent, I could not tell. Taking a closer look at it now on the worktable, I see sinewy lines or fibers that resemble horn which the next picture shows, yet the texture of the piece feels and sounds like a plastic when thumped with the finger.Looking at the holes and the edge that has deteriorated, another closer picture is taken. The fibers run through the depth of the material and not simply a surface cosmetic texturing. This convinces me that this ferrule was made of horn not from a synthetic. This certainly tilts the period of the manufacturing to an earlier date. Horn was a common material used in the early 1900s. This is good news also for the restoration project. If a replacement ferrule cannot be found to work, there’s a good chance that this horn ferrule can be repaired. I’ve worked on several horn stems and the material is durable and usually cooperative.Additional good news is that the ferrule has threads that are operational – gripping the cherry stem. This provides a starting point for a repair with the knowledge that the component already works, but simply needs repairing. The 2 protrusions in the picture below also are indicators of where the end of the ferrule once was which gives a clue to the extent of a repair.The topside of the ferrule shows the threads where the missing mouthpiece should be but isn’t. A quick search on the internet produces a picture (second below) of a similar Tyrolean with a mouthpiece, ferrule, and the dangle cord. This picture represents the goal!The cherry wood stem is in good shape and only needs cleaning. The cork will either be reattached to the end, or a new cork will be put into service if needed. This will help the stem’s snug seating into the ceramic shank cap mortise.After a general survey examining the pieces of the 1761 Minstrel Bard Tyrolean, the question regarding the country of manufacturing (COM) came to mind. My guess, as I had written earlier to Darren, was that the pipe was either from Germany or Austria. If this could be determined, research on the significance of 1761 could be narrowed a good bit. With that, I use a magnifying glass to look more closely to see if a stamping or marking could be found anywhere on the pipe. I wasn’t expecting to find anything when I did. Stamped on the brass rim crown was the COM, AUSTRIA. The hardened lava/corrosion on the brass almost obscures the stamping, but the lettering jumped out when the cap was scrutinized with the magnifying glass.With Austrian history now the probable focus, the internet search did not take long to discover a very likely candidate to be the subject of the bard’s song. Wikipedia’s page on ‘1761’ (See: LINK) lists significant events happening worldwide during the 1761 calendar year. I’m fascinated by the list of ‘Events’ and as I scan down starting from January, I discover a reference to Austria on April 1. Leading up to this event is listed an interesting event of a large earthquake overtaking the far west of Europe – with Lisbon, Portugal, receiving the majority brunt of the quake and with chimneys being dislodged in London. I clipped the Wikipedia page below:The first reference to Austria happens on April 1: “The Austrian Empire and the Russian Empire sign a new treaty of alliance.” The reference of this information pointed to a book by Herbert J. Redman entitled, ‘Frederick the Great and the Seven Years War’. Austria during this time was a larger empire than the expanse of territory now representing the country of Austria. The two empires of Austria and Russia joined forces in what is described as the first real ‘World War’. I’m fascinated that the ‘Seven Years War’ is described in the Wiki information as a world conflict (See: LINK) (My comments are bracketed):
The Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Great Britain and France. In Europe, the conflict arose from issues left unresolved by the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), with Prussia [modern day Germany] seeking greater dominance. Long-standing colonial rivalries pitting Britain against France and Spain in North America and the Caribbean islands were fought on a grand scale with consequential results. In Europe, the war broke out over territorial disputes between Prussia and Austria, which wanted to regain Silesia [part of modern day Poland] after it was captured by Prussia in the previous war. Britain, France, and Spain fought both in Europe and overseas with land-based armies and naval forces, while Prussia sought territorial expansion in Europe and consolidation of its power.
It is also worth noting, the unresolved issues of the ‘War of the Austrian Succession’ which took place earlier, is described as the catalyst of the Seven Years’ War. The essence of the earlier ‘Austrian Succession’ was power struggles and balances. With the Seven Years’ War as an historic backdrop, I continue to scan the Wiki 1761 ‘Events’ for other clues that might crystalize a specific event or personage that would be worthy of the bard’s song. I discover that it is possible that this song took flight from the event listed on October first when a popular Austrian Field Marshal distinguished himself. Here is the clipping from Wiki ‘Events’:Austrian Field Marshal Ernst Gideon von Laudon is described in the Wiki article (LINK) regarding his life and career as ‘a Baltic German-born Austrian generalissimo and one of the most successful opponents of Prussian (German) king Frederick the Great.’ The information about the Laudon exploits is extensive as he rose to distinction because of his leadership and his gradual rise to military prominence. My sense is that within the Austrian historical milieu, he would be revered by the Austrian populace much like George Washington is in the American context.
Laudon distinguished himself, according to Wiki, during the campaigns leading up to October 1, 1761, when he captures the Prussian town of Schweidnitz (now in Poland), during the Seven Years’ War. Here is the paragraph that while a bit lengthy, describes well why Field Marshal Ernst Gideon von Laudon is most likely the hero of the bard’s song:
He was placed in command of the Austrian contingent sent to join the Russians on the Oder, and participated in Kunersdorf alongside Pyotr Saltykov where a joint Russo-Austrian contingent won a great victory. As a result, Laudon was promoted Feldzeugmeister and made commander-in-chief in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. In 1760 he destroyed a whole corps of Frederick’s army under Fouqué at the Battle of Landeshut and stormed the important fortress of Glatz. In 1760 he sustained a severe reverse at Frederick’s hands in the Battle of Liegnitz (15 August 1760), which action led to bitter controversy with Daun and Lacy, the commanders of the main army, who, Laudon claimed, had left his corps unsupported. In 1761 he operated, as usual, in Silesia, but he found his Russian allies as timid as they had been after Kunersdorf, and all attempts against Frederick’s entrenched camp of Bunzelwitz failed. He brilliantly seized his one fleeting opportunity, however, and stormed Schweidnitz on the night of September 30/October 1, 1761. His tireless activity continued to the end of the war, in conspicuous contrast with the temporizing strategy of Daun and Lacy. The student of the later campaigns of the Seven Years’ War will probably admit that there was need of more aggressiveness than Daun displayed, and of more caution than suited Laudon’s genius. But neither recognized this, and the last three years of the war are marked by an ever-increasing friction between the “Fabius” and the “Marcellus,” as they were called, of the Austrian army.
The article describes how a number of years later after having been made Commander-in-Chief, after Laudon had retired for the most part, Laudon was again called back into service one last time. As before, he distinguished himself on behalf of Austria:
For two years after this Laudon lived quietly at Hadersdorf. A new war, with Turkey, broke out in 1787. The generals charged with prosecuting this war did badly, and Laudon was called for the last time into the field. Though old and broken in health, he was commander-in-chief in fact as well as in name, and in 1789 he won a last brilliant success by capturing Belgrade in three weeks.
It is possible that the 1761 on the Minstrel Bard Tyrolean is commemorating another prominent event of the year. Yet, my curiosity would be satisfied if I were told that the Bard’s song celebrated the pursuits of Field Marshal Ernst Gideon von Laudon, military leader, and apparent hero of the Austrian Empire. With this, the question of the importance of 1761 is left for the reader to consider 😊.
Another question about the Tyrolean in need of resolution is this: From what material was the bowl fashioned? My first thoughts were of porcelain, but I wasn’t sure. I found many sites online pinging to the search, ‘What is the difference between porcelain and ceramic?’ (See: LINK), and discovered that porcelain is actually a sub-category of the more general genre of ceramics, which is basically firing different clays, with different ingredients, with different temperatures for differing uses. This helpful information is from ‘Our Pastimes’:
Porcelain includes a mixture of kaolin, a white clay, and petuntse, a feldspar mineral from China, that is fired at nearly 2600 degrees Fahrenheit. Ceramic, on the other hand, is composed of a hard, brittle material produced from nonmetallic minerals. The average figurine collector can tell the difference by looking at their look, feel, and sound.
Generally, porcelain is white, and its density allows for light to pass through. There are several other tests that involve thumping, texture, and such, but, while I don’t know the specific kind of ceramic the Tyrolean is (earthenware, stoneware, glass ceramics, fired bricks, etc. See: LINK), I don’t believe it is porcelain. If I were to guess, I think stoneware is a good one. This is from www.Simplicable:
** I didn’t know the meaning of ‘Vitreous’: like glass in appearance or physical properties, smooth, glossy, polished.
Several weeks have transpired since I received the ceramic Tyrolean in the mail from Darren, and this time was used to search for a replacement ferrule. I discovered several replicas online of the 1761 Minstrel Bard Tyrolean. The following pictures were of one such 1761 that was on the eBay auction block. It was great to see the mouthpiece and ferrule displayed in the second picture – the ‘holy grail!’I searched online for a ferrule that might fit and a mouthpiece as well in various ‘parts’ listings. There aren’t too many Tyrolean parts listings out there – at least in the US. I also kept my radar tuned when my wife and I visited several second hand and antique shops in our travels to Dearborn, Michigan, for Thanksgiving for parts or a Tyrolean that might be cannibalized – for the right price. I saw a number of Tyroleans but found nothing that would work.
When the time arrived to start on this project and bring the Tyrolean to the worktable, I decided that the only option before me was to repair the horn ferrule. I’ve thought a lot about how to do this and I came up with a plan that I shared with Darren to receive his thumbs up – nothing ventured nothing gained! I appreciated his confidence in my abilities – more than I had 😊. So, left to my own resources, I decided to cannibalize a Tyrolean souvenir pipe that I acquired somewhere which has little value to me. I believe the mouthpiece is made from a rubber compound, perhaps vulcanite with the way it is oxidized.However, the mouthpiece’s threading does not fit being too large for the ferrule’s threading. For this cannibalized mouthpiece to work, the threading will need to be downsized. I believe there’s enough ‘meat left on the bone’ to do this, but we’ll see. If the horn ferrule is able to be repaired and recommissioned, then the following step will be to resize the mouthpiece threading. The patients are on the operating table!First, the ferrule: The approach to restoring the horn ferrule is to repair the holes and deterioration of the horn using a CA glue mixture. The repair will start first with the lower areas where the horn has deteriorated around the exposed cherry stem threading. The repair areas are so large that I believe several applications of glue will be necessary to build the patch incrementally. To keep the CA glue in place, an accelerator will be used to cure the glue more rapidly keeping the patch where it needs to be. The ferrule will be fully threaded on the stem during the lower patching process to help form the internal patch mold. Teflon tape will be used tightly to wrap the stem threading to protect it from the glue. A film of petroleum jelly is spread over the tape to help prevent sticking (hopefully!). The patches are built with the ferrule fully threaded on the stem so that the patch will be formed by the contours of the stem’s threading (hopefully!). This is the plan!I’ve previously never used Teflon tape with CA glues. To test it, I decide to place a drop of each glue I plan to use, CA clear, black, and amber on a strip of Teflon tape.Next the drops were sprayed with an accelerator to cure them quickly.The tape held up nicely. The underside shows the tape colored, but the barrier remained intact which should guard the threaded cherry wood from the glue.Next, I also want to test the color of the CA glues. I am hoping to dilute a straight black so that it might blend with the horn material of the ferrule which is a deep greenish brown.Mixing the black and amber goes in a good direction. It will not perfectly match but I’m hoping to get in the neighborhood.The cherry wood stem is first wrapped with painters’ tape to protect it. The Teflon tape is wrapped clockwise around the threading which is the direction of the ferrule’s mounting. The tape is pulled tight so that the threads are contoured through the tape.A film of petroleum jelly is placed around the threading of the Teflon tape to guard against the CA glue sticking. Next, the black and amber CA glues are placed on a mixing palette.The ferrule is mounted onto the threaded stem to provide support for the ferrule and for the patch to form to the Teflon tape thread contours. A toothpick is used to mix the glue. Regular clear CA glue is added as well to thicken the mixture to aid the transfer to the ferrule. The approach is to place a small amount of the glue mixture on the ferrule, and it is then sprayed with accelerator to cure it and hold it in place. This process is incrementally repeated many times gradually building the patch. The patching starts on the lower deteriorated areas and works toward the end of the ferrule – toward the edge of the cherry wood facing.This process proceeds slowly as the patches are built going as far as the cherry wood stem facing edge.When the lower patching is completed, with breath held and with a prayer that the glue has not welded the ferrule onto the wooden threading, the ferrule is nudged counterclockwise to unscrew it. The tape worked like a charm! What a relief.With the lower part of the ferrule patched, the holes and crevasses that are positioned above the threaded cherry wood are filled next in the same incremental manner. The pictures show the gradual process. When all the holes are filled and the patches cured, the ferrule is remounted onto the stem to see how things look. So far, everything is behaving as hoped!Next, the filing begins. A flat needle file is carefully used to file down the CA glue patch mounds. The following pictures show the progress around the ferrule with the various patches. With the mounds filed down flush with the ferrule horn surface, 240 sanding paper is used continuing to remove excess glue and to smooth the patches. Painters tape is wrapped around the cherry wood stem to protect it from the sanding. Next, the flat needle file is used to file and smooth the ferrule’s edge that butts against the cherry wood facing.The sanding continues next with wet sanding with 600 grade paper and then 0000 grade steel wool is applied.As often is the case with large patches using CA glue, air pocket can be trapped. After the patch has cured and is later sanded, these air pockets can surface as pitting in the patches. This has happened with the ferrule’s patch work.To remedy this, extra thin CA glue is applied to the pits with a toothpick and painted over the pits.After the thin CA glue cures, 600 grade paper is used to sand the patches and this is followed by applying 0000 grade steel wool.Next, the full set of 9 micromesh pads is used on the ferrule starting first with wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400. This is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. To condition the horn, Paraffin oil is applied between each set of 3 pads. The ferrule has been rebuilt, and the pitting has been removed and the ferrule looks great!The next critical part in the restoration process is to restore the mouthpiece so that it mounts onto the top of the ferrule. I’m not an expert when it comes to the use of a tap and dies, but I’m willing to give it a go!My approach is to use a mouthpiece that I cannibalized from a souvenir Tyrolean that I have. The threading of the mouthpiece is larger than the threading of the ferrule. With the use of a tap, I hope to downsize the mouthpiece threads to fit the ferrule. Simple? Sure!Without getting into all the sizes of the taps and dies and the per/inch thread measurements, I go through the different die selections that I have and find one that fits the ferrule. This gives me a reference point. This is the size that the mouthpiece threads need to match.I find the corresponding tap size to use to downsize the mouthpiece. The rotation of the tap is forward and back, forward, and back, so as to not overwhelm the material. Well, it was going so well….until it wasn’t.The material of the mouthpiece was not strong enough and probably thinning too much, and the threads collapsed under the torque of the tapping process. Ugh.After several minutes of silence, mediation, and contemplation regarding the next step to resolve this critical failure, I decide to send Steve a note to again tap into the depths of his Rebornpipes experience. The note gave an overview explaining the details of the project and the mouthpiece failure and the failed search to find a workable ferrule.
Steve’s response came quickly with a proposal to go in a different direction:
Hey Dal, You could carefully drill out the broken end of the stem and use one of your bone tenons that might be the perfect size. Steve
Why didn’t I think of that? What a great idea and a classic approach to this valued heirloom from Brian. What could be more ‘period’ than a bone tenon? I looked through the bone tenons in my stock and none were the right fit.The flat needle file was used to file away the thread debris on the mouthpiece and the mouthpiece facing was filed down and flattened. With pictures and measurements, an email was launched to Tim West at http://jhlowe.com to see if he might provide the needed bone tenon.At this juncture, I continue with the project with the cleaning of the ceramic 1761 Minstrel Bard ceramic bowl by cleaning the chamber. I approach the ceramic as I would Meerschaum and use the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the DEEP chamber walls. I would think that, like Meerschaum, a ceramic bowl needs no protective cake. The chamber’s foundation is fired ceramic which is able easily to withstand the fire of the chamber. A starting picture is taken followed by the Savinelli Fitsall Tool.After the scraping of the chamber walls is completed, the chamber is then sanded with 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.After wiping the chamber with a cotton pad, another picture is taken to show the progress. I’ve not worked on a ceramic before, but I see no problems with the chamber – solid as a rock.Continuing the cleaning, a look down the shank mortise reveals something obstructing the chamber.A sharp, hooked dental probe snags the debris deep in the mortise and pulls it free. A pipe cleaner is inserted into the shank through the draft hole to make sure the airway is cleared. What I find may be an important clue as to how this ceramic Tyrolean is best smoked. A small wad of cotton fiber was wedged deeply into the mortise cavity. I suspect that it was placed there, perhaps by Brian’s grandfather, to serve possible important purposes. It was probably used as a filter of sorts to block ash from being sucked into the mortise. It would provide a degree of absorbency of moisture that would undoubtedly develop in the heating of the ceramic. Another possible benefit is that it acted as an air restrictor. The airway is quite large, and the cotton could provide the added resistance to the airflow to have a more controlled burn. Very interesting! Darren will need to remember to pack a cotton ball with his tobacco, lighter and tamp when he takes the Minstrel Bard to the next gathering of the Chester County Cigar Club – Holy Smokes!To clean the bowl with its brass fitments, warm tap water and dish washing soap is the starting approach – starting with a gentle cleaning to be on the safe side. Shank brushes and a bristled toothbrush are used with dish washing soap and warm water.After drying the bowl, a quick inspection shows the brass weather cap, rim crown, and the shank cap needing more attention. The brass still has some corrosion and tarnish here and there and the inside of the wind cap is still darkened with hardened and congealed oils from the tobacco burning and smoke filtering through the cap. To helps clean the brass further, Tarn-X is a product I use on different metals that does a good job. After applying the Tarn-X in small sections, the brass is scrubbed with a cotton cloth and rinsed often as the directions describe. After this, the brass is given a uber light buffing from 0000 steel wool to raise the shine more. ‘Light’ means that I applied very little pressure to the steel wool. This did a good job. Later, I will continue the brass polishing with the application of Blue Diamond compound, but now I put the bowl aside and focus on the mouthpiece.There are many moving parts to this restoration. The next part is the cork. The cork is remounted on the cherry stem to take a closer look at the condition. The cork fits very loosely over the cherry air tube and parts of the cork have broken off.Looking down the shaft of the stem, the fitting and sizing of the cork is askew and is splitting.It doesn’t take long to decide to fit the Tyrolean with a new cork which serves as the pressure joint between the stem and bowl. Steve’s writeup (Rebornpipes: Recorking a German Porcelain Tyrolean or Wine Pipe) helped with a general approach to this mini-project. A suitable candidate is found in my collection of Bulgarian wine bottle corks. I have quite a few of them! A mark is place on the cork to indicate the length of the stem’s airway tube. The cork is then cut at the mark with a pocketknife.Next, a mark is placed at the center of the cork and a hole is drilled to accommodate air tube. Using a smaller bit first, an initial guide hole is drilled through the cork. I don’t have a drill press, so I have to eyeball the trajectory. It turns out pretty well.Next, using a few more drill bits, each the next size larger, the hole diameter is increased until the hole is sufficient to accommodate the stem air tube.Next, shaping the cork is done with a sanding drum mounted on the rotary tool. The speed is set at a slower speed.It doesn’t take long to realize that sanding a cork puts out a lot of dust. The vacuum cleaner nozzle is positioned close to the rotary sanding, and this helps to suck up a lot of the debris entering our home’s atmosphere. The shaping of the cork goes slowly.I get to a point of testing the cork’s fit in the mortise.As expected, the cork’s midsection expands outwardly, and the stem is seated only about halfway.Using 240 sanding paper, the sanding continues to shape the cork, so the seating is snug and secure, but also to fashion the cork so a greater amount of the cork is inserted into the shank cap and mortise. To me, it looks more finished like this when there is less cork showing.With sanding and testing, the cork is seating well with less cork billowing out the mortise. I like it.The cork drilling is not perfectly down the center so that the cork’s fitting to the stem is better at a certain orientation. With the cork at this ‘best’ orientation, the cork is marked with a corresponding mark on the stem on tape. I do this in preparation for gluing the cork into place. I want to make sure the cork is at the place I want it when glue is applied.To mount the cork, regular white glue is applied over the airway tube.The cork is then mounted with the marks aligned. The stem is then set aside for the glue to cure.With the cork firmly glued in place, the stem and cork enjoy some conditioning. Petroleum Jelly is used to condition the cork. It is spread liberally over the cork.Mark Hoover’s ‘Before & After’ Restoration Balm does a great job with briar. I can’t see that it will hurt to apply the Balm also to the cherrywood stem. I put some Balm on the fingers and rub it in the wood thoroughly and then put the stem aside for about 15 minutes for the Balm to do its work.Next, a microfiber cloth is used to wipe off excess Balm and to buff the stem raising the shine. It looks great!The airway of the stem is also cleaned using a shank brush and isopropyl 99%.Earlier, I had written to Tim West at J. H. Lowe & Co. with pictures and measurements and he searched his inventory and sent a lot of 8 bone tenons that were in the ballpark. Tim said that the size I was looking for was rare and he also said that there are some that say it doesn’t exist in the world of bone tenons! One of the eight bone tenons was a good candidate but after starting the threading, it would seize after a few rotations. Without a good fit, I returned to the Tap & Die kit and found a die that matched the tenon’s threading as closely as possible. Flying now by the seat of my pants, the die was rotated back and forth gingerly with only a millimeter advance in the rotation at a time. Paraffin oil was also used to coat the die to help with the advance of the threading. My fear was somehow to crack the ferrule which would return me to the starting blocks.With great care, progress was made with the seating of the tenon. I’m starting to breathe a bit easier sensing that the horn ferrule was up for the adventure. It was proving to be tough enough.I come to a place where I halt the threading process. The bone tenon is in the ferrule far enough. Now, working on the mouthpiece side of the tenon is next.The next critical juncture in the theoretical ‘plan’ is CAREFULLY to drill out the end of the cannibalized mouthpiece to accommodate the tenon which will eventually be permanently mounted with glue. Here is the challenge: The mouthpiece begins to bend about 1/4 inch from the end. This means that the hole that is reamed out cannot extend too far into the internal mouthpiece airway or it will result in drilling out of the mouthpiece and breaching the surface as it bends. Using the largest drill bit that will fit into the current airway, scotch tape is placed around the bit to mark the maximum dept of the drilling into the mouthpiece. There’s not a lot of margin for error.
The next larger bit is mounted into the hand drill and hand-turned into the airway – the airway being the pathway of least resistance guides the larger bit. The bit is backed out often to measure the depth and to clear the debris. This part of the project is nerve racking because any breach or tear of the vulcanite mouthpiece will probably send me to the start again searching for a mouthpiece! Slow and patient is the strategy, and it pays off.Using 4 bits to enlarge the airway was the maximum I was willing to go. I stopped at this point even though the airway diameter is still too narrow to accommodate the bone tenon’s threading. I was concerned that the vulcanite surrounding the drilled airway would be too thin and possibly compromise its integrity.In the picture below a mark can be seen on the bone tenon. After screwing the tenon into the ferrule, this mark indicates the outer most part of the tenon that is even with the ferrule’s opening. This is where the mouthpiece facing should reach when eventually mounted (hopefully!).The next picture visualizes the depth of the internal drilling of the mouthpiece airway marked on the thinner tenon threading. The bone material to the left of this mark will be removed to shorten the tenon to fit the drilled airway cavity. The mouthpiece facing is lined up with the line to the right, indicating the depth of the fully mounted tenon in the ferrule. This means everything to the left of this right-side mark will be removed to fit the diameter of the drilled mouthpiece airway.With all the measuring and visualizing of the hoped for future complete, the next step is to shorten the tenon by removing the excess bone tenon to the left (picture above) of the mark. To do this a grinding stone wheel is mounted to the rotary tool with the speed on the slower side – about 30% of full power.When I started the grinding, I didn’t know how the bone material would respond. I was glad when the bone proved to be quite resistant to the grinding. This means slow going, but it also means that the bone is very resilient and I’m less likely to do something that might break the bone. Another surprising part of grinding the bone was the odor. My wife also noticed it to her chagrin and turned on the exhaust fans! The bone smelled like burning flesh – or as I would imagine it smelling. Once a living organism, the vestiges of life resurfacing…. The bone is gradually removed with the mark as the goal.The length of the tenon has reached the mark. Next, the diameter of the tenon inserted into the mouthpiece airway must be reduced.Continuing with the grinding stone wheel, the threading is ground down to reduce the diameter of the tenon.The grinding is stopped periodically to test the fitting in the mouthpiece. Progress!Grinding the tenon cylinder continues until the tenon seats completely into the mouthpiece’s drilled airway.Next, the tenon is mounted onto the ferrule to take a look at where we are. With a few more grinding adjustments, the ‘holy grail’ of this restoration is complete! The ferrule has been restored by patching the holes and rebuilding it, rethreaded with a die, the mouthpiece drilled out, the bone tenon acquired and resized and now the key components are on the table ready to go! I’m a bit stoked 😊. Before mounting the tenon permanently, it is removed from the mouthpiece, and the mouthpiece goes into Briarville’s, Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover to address the oxidation. The pipe cleaner is used to help retrieve the mouthpiece after the soak.After soaking for several hours, the mouthpiece is retrieved from the soak and using a cotton cloth, it is rubbed briskly to remove the oxidation that had been raised through the soak process. A pipe cleaner moistened with isopropyl 99% alcohol is used to clean and clear the airway of any fluid residue.To make sure residual oxidation is removed, the entire mouthpiece is sanded first with 240 paper. This is then followed by wet sanding with 600 grade paper and the application of 0000 grade steel wool.Next, the mouthpiece is treated to the full set of 9 micromesh pads starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400. This is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. Between each set of 3 pads Obsidian Oil is applied to condition the vulcanite mouthpiece and to guard against future oxidation.With the mouthpiece’s sanding completed, the next step is to permanently mount the bone tenon into the mouthpiece’s drilled airway cavity. Regular CA glue is used to do this.A small amount of glue is placed on the end of a toothpick and then the toothpick paints the lower shaft of the cylinder. This is done so that when the tenon is inserted into the airway, glue is not squeezed out the end of the mouthpiece. When the glue is applied, the tenon is firmly seated fully into the mouthpiece. I didn’t want to have the glue seize with the tenon only halfway seated! It doesn’t matter where the tenon seats because the corked cherry wood stem will be rotated to achieve the proper alignment with the bowl.Anxious to see the ferrule and mouthpiece mounted, a picture shows what has been a long path of restoration. Nice!What follows is applying Blue Diamond compound to the horn ferrule and vulcanite mouthpiece followed by an application of carnauba wax. The brass fitments are further polished using Blue Diamond compound. Another slight modification was applied to the cork. I decided that the cork needed to seat more deeply into the mortise to have less cork showing. Sanding a bit more of the cork accomplished this and then the cork was retreated with petroleum jelly. To finish, the entire pipe is then given a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.
One additional project to complete the restoration only seemed right. Tyrolean pipes historically come in different shapes and sizes made with differing materials. Yet, a constant unifier of Tyrolean pipes was the flourish of fancy tassels adorning the dangle cords that interwove all the pieces of the pipe together. The dangle cord allowed the steward to clean his pipe more easily while standing in the bush without losing any of the pieces or having to lay them down. These utilitarian cords were often dressed up to reflect the prestige of the steward and the pipe he proudly held. With my wife’s expert help and expertise, a tasseled dangle cord was cut, crafted, braided, and looped onto the 1761 Minstrel Bard Tyrolean. Thank you, Beth! A few pictures showing her amazing and crowning contribution 😊. It has been a privilege for me to restore this special gift from Brian to Darren and and for it to symbolize this special bond between pipe men. It truly is an amazing story. I look forward to hearing from Darren (and receiving pictures!) about how the inaugural fellowship goes with this 1761 Minstrel Bard Tyrolean commemorating the wartime exploits of a distinguished military leader of the Austrian Empire. I will also look forward to hearing what Brian thinks about this newly resurrected heirloom his grandfather once had the privilege of stewarding. Added to this, I’m grateful that this Tyrolean restoration benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Thanks for joining me!
5 thoughts on “The Restoration of a Special Gift – A 1761 Minstrel Bard Tyrolean of Austria”
It likely is not big deal; however, as you apply yourself to accuracy, I learned of incorrect information in today’s post: my friend Brian told me I was misinformed on his age. He celebrates his 70th birthday this month. 😳 Whoops!
Obviously, we’re focused on our tobacco more than birthdays. Not a critical error, and I wanted to pass along the correction.
I’m so grateful for your investment into this pipe. THANK YOU!
Sincerely, Darren Chick
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I’ll make the corrections 🙂
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I happen to have the same pipe that was my grandfather’s. It has been stored in a wooden box. I remember he would smoke it once a year. It’s missing the chain but I remember him wearing it. I am not a pipe smoker but it still has the stem and intact. My family did come from the Austrian Bavaria area as well
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Kathy, these pipes are great heirlooms 😊.