The next pipe on the worktable came to me in what I have called the St. Louis Lot of 26 which my son, Josiah, discovered in a local antique shop. He sent pictures to me in Bulgaria where we were still living, and I liked what I saw. Josiah had one caveat regarding the purchase: he would split the cost with me, and I was to pick one of the pipes in the SL Lot as a Christmas present from him. That was not a problem for me! I chose the French Champion House Pipe (See: A Christmas Pipe for Me – A 1920s Champion Made in France House Pipe) dominating the center of the lot pictured below. The GEFAPIP 2500 Rusticated Dublin, a dwarf to the House Pipe, is directly above.Kentuckian pipe man Ken heard the whisper of the French GEFAPIP Dublin when he was perusing the online ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ collection. Having commissioned another pipe from me and having invited me to join the FB pipe group, Brothers by Briar, which he helps to moderate, Ken knew of my take on the Harry Potter mantra of wandmaker Garrick Ollivander’s that the ‘wizard does not choose the wand, but the wand chooses the wizard’. This is why I said that Ken heard the whisper of the GEFAPIP – it chose him. As a high school English teacher, Ken was quick to dub me as, ‘Dallivander’ of the pipe restoration community – a moniker I am proud to receive 😊. Through our communications I discovered that Ken is a hobby knife maker and fly fisherman to name a few aspirations when he’s not in the high school classroom teaching our kids English. It was through fellow Brothers by Briar member, Skeet, that Ken heard about The Pipe Steward and reached out to me for the first time with a special commission. This was what Ken wrote that first commission:
Subject: #B4-476 Butz Choquin Rocaille St.Claude-France 1027 Rusticated Bulldog
I would like to commission this old bulldog. My favorite pipe shape is a bulldog and my wife, and I own Bulldogs. We lost our Guinness in October to lymphoma, and I had a Short Peterson Bulldog made for him as a remembrance pipe.
Now we have a rascal of a bulldog pup, Whiskey. I think a “new” pipe for him is in order. I’m a teacher and I HATE anyone that would abuse children, so I think this commission serves two amazing purposes!
Ken’s last statement was regarding his appreciation for how restored pipes help to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Ken did commission the BC Rocaille Rusticated Bulldog to inaugurate their ‘new’ bulldog pup, Whiskey. As with all new stewards of pipes that are restored in Dallivander’s workshop, I asked Ken to send a selfie when he inaugurated the BC Bulldog. He did and I’m thankful to receive the photo donning a very apropos Ivy cap as well 😊.
One of the requirements of stewards who commission pipes is patience. Ken has indeed been patient waiting for the GEFAPIP. When he first asked about the Rusticated Dublin, I pulled the pipe out to take a closer look, and my closer look discovered something I had not seen before – a life threatening crack in the bowl. Here is that communication to Ken:
I got your text about commissioning the GEFAPIP Rusticated Dublin. I pulled the pipe out and it’s a sweet diminutive pipe with great rustication. As I was taking a good close look at the stummel I discovered that there’s a crack in the bowl. Pretty scary looking. It’s actually in the sample pictures in the Dreamer’s section, but it doesn’t jump out at you because of the rustication – which I like a lot on this, almost ‘pocket’ pipe. The length is 4 7/8 inches and I’m guessing that the crack did come from someone’s pocket – it’s not easy to crack a pipe where it’s cracked. Before I saw the crack, looking at the provenance of the pipe (St. Claude) and the sweet rustication, with deeply oxidized stem, etc., the estimate I had in mind was at $65. What I propose is that you go ahead and commission the Dublin to allow me to work on the pipe to salvage it – it really has a sweet posture for a light weight. As with all my restorations, you are under no obligation to purchase the pipe. If you passed on the pipe after I did the repair work, I probably would keep it for my own personal collection, unless someone else chimed in. I like the challenge of bringing pipes back from the brink, the grave, the abyss, to give them a second chance. After all, it wasn’t the pipe’s fault someone sat on him! The key will be what’s underneath the cake in the chamber. If the crack has broken through…well, that might be the end of it. But I would love to give it a go if you’re game. Let me know what you think. Either way, I’ve marked the pipe as ‘commissioned’. Happy piping!
Dal (aka: Dallivander)
I appreciated Ken’s short response: “Yep! I’m sure you can handle the crack!” Here are pictures of the wounded French made GEFAPIP 106 S Rusticated Dublin that whispered Ken’s name. The nomenclature is stamped on the underside shank panel, GEFAPIP [over] 2500 [over] FRANCE, the COM. To the right of the primary stamping stamped parallel to the shank facing is the shape and probably size designation: 106 S.The stem’s upper saddle is stamped with the GEFAPIP logo – a modernistic pipe. The left side of the stamping is very thin.I’ve benefited from having previously restored a GEFAPIP Bulldog and the research I did for it. A quick look in Pipedia reveals pertinent information about the French origins of this GEFAPIP. The information is brief but helpful.
Gefapip was a French brand from the St Claude region. Their products appeared in the 1979 Tinderbox catalog, with prices ranging from $17.50 to $62.50.
The following catalog page (1979 Catalog page, courtesy Doug Valitchka) was included with the text, and it added helpful information that the GEFAPIP name was started by a group of master carvers in the St. Claude region. The production line pictured in the catalog page are examples of shapes smoked in the Saint Claude region in the 1890s according to the caption.A visit to Pipephil.eu did not produce new information but gave some additional examples of GEFAPIP pipes. The stem stamping of a ‘modernistic’ pipe shape is shown in the panel below. The logo is visible on the Dublin but thinning. I’ll see if I can help refresh it down the road a bit.Looking now more closely at the Rusticated Dublin, the crack I described earlier is front and center and a few pictures show the challenges. First, starting with the overview, the crack runs from the left-lower side of the bowl downwardly angling toward the nomenclature panel where it ends. When I first looked at this crack, my concern was that it was curtains for this sharp rusticated Dublin.Taking a closer look at the top, on the side of the bowl, I discover that the crack is not singular, but plural. In the closeup picture below, #1 shows the starting point (or, more likely, ending point) of the crack in the smooth valley area between the rusticated ridges. #2 marks the end of that crack – about 2mm above the beginning of the longer crack – #3. What I’m seeing is confirming in my mind that this is a stress crack where the stress bent the bowl/shank and #2 and #3 mark the epicenter of the crack. Moving further down with the next pictures, #4 marks the end of the crack on the lower side panel. This picture shows the proper up/down orientation with the other markers in view.It’s not pretty, but when one sits on one’s pocket pipe, one must expect such things to result. The good news with a stress crack like this is that the stress caused the damage is no longer present, and it doesn’t seem the crack is getting worse, though measures will be taken to make sure the cracks don’t creep. Looking at the rest of the pipe, the chamber shows some cake that needs to be removed allowing fresh briar to emerge. The craggy rustication, which is one of the eye-drawing characteristics of this Dublin, has dirt and grime in the crevasses. The pipe needs a good cleaning. The stem has deep oxidation and calcification on the bit. This will be addressed first.Before working on the crack, the pipe will be run through the regular cleaning processes – I don’t like working on a dirty pipe. First, the airway is cleaned with a single pipe cleaner moistened with isopropyl 99% alcohol.To address the oxidation, Briarville’s Stem Oxidation Remover is used. The stem is placed in the soak for about 24 hours allowing it to have the full effect. The next day, the stem is removed from the Briarville soak and the picture shows very well what is meant by ‘raised oxidation’. The oxidation makes its way to the vulcanite surface.The stem is then rubbed vigorously with a cotton cloth to remove the raised oxidation – the picture shows this in process.There remains some stubborn oxidation and 0000 grade steel wool is carefully put into service on the stem avoiding the stem stamping.The airway is cleaned once more to remove vestiges of the Oxidation Remover fluid.Next, to aid in the vulcanite’s rejuvenation and conditioning, the stem is coated with Paraffin Oil. Wow! This stem has come a long way.Transitioning next to the stummel cleaning, the first step is to ream the chamber. I’m anxious to have a look at the chamber wall to see if the crack has come through and if so, what’s the degree of damage? A fresh picture is taken of the chamber to mark the progress.The cake is removed from the chamber by first utilizing the smaller two blade heads from the Pipnet Reaming Kit. This is followed by scraping the chamber walls further with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool. Finally, the chamber is sanded with 240 grade paper to remove the last vestiges of carbon allowing the briar to have a fresh start.I’m able now to have a look at the chamber wall to discern whether there is any visual indication of the trauma. I see what appears to be a defined line indicating a possible crack on the floor of the chamber. This is identified with the arrow. Coming up, the defined crack seems to dissipate – this is marked by the squiggly line. The line dissipates into what I call a ‘bruise’ in the briar – the broader lighter patch indicated by the bracket. At this point, I decide to shoot off an email to Steve to see what his wealth of Rebornpipes experience might offer.Here is the email I sent to Steve describing the wounded Dublin and my thinking of how to approach the challenges:
I’ve gotten into a GEFAPIP Rusticated Dublin which is a sweet ‘pocket pipe’ which someone forgot was in his back pocket when he sat on him. I’m hoping to save this guy and whenever I work on bowl cracks, I think about the collaboration restoration and postings you did with Charles (Dad’s Pipes) back when I was first getting involved. It still ranks on the all-time best reads list for me 😊. Pictures are attached of the crack that runs down from the left, lower side of the bowl down to the underside – nomenclature panel. It’s ugly to be sure. Actually, as you can see, there are two cracks – one short one on the top which ends just next to the beginning of the longer crack going down to the heel. One picture I’ve numbered to show what I see. #1 is the top, where it starts, 2 – ends the smaller crack, 3 – starts the longer crack that goes to the lower panel – 4. After cleaning the chamber and sanding it, I can see what may be a defined crack at the very floor, and it runs up and disappears into what I’ve called the ‘bruise’ – the lightish batch. What I do see is that the briar seems to be ‘bruised’ coming up from the floor starting about halfway up the chamber. I’ve sanded it and the picture shows it. There is no crack I can see emerging and going over the rim. Rubbing the finger over the area of the chamber is almost smooth, a little indentation at the bruise. So, my thinking initially was to do the normal anti-creep holes on the ends of the external cracks and fill crack first with thin CA glue to seep down well. Follow this with Black CA glue. After cleaning out the chamber and seeing what I see, I’m not sure what can be done in the chamber. I could smear J-B Weld over the area filling what perhaps is there that can be filled. Other than that…? I guess the 100$ question is, can the stummel after repaired, handle the heating/cooling cycles. The overall feel of the stummel is good and solid. What are your thoughts? Much thanks in advance!
With the email on the way up to Vancouver, the cleaning continues with the external cleaning. A few pictures show the lava crud on the rim and the grunge in the nooks and crannies of the craggy rustication – which I really like! The cleaning starts with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap scrubbing with a cotton pad. This did not last long. With the roughness of the rustication, the cotton pad was quickly disintegrating and getting caught in the rustication. The cotton pad was discarded, and a bristled toothbrush took over doing a great job getting into the crags and crevasses.A brass bristled brush was used to help clean the lava build up on the rim. Brass bristles are not invasive but add some muscle to the cleaning.Not shown is next taking the stummel to the sink and cleaning the internals using shank brushes and anti-oil liquid dish washing soap. After scrubbing a good bit, the stummel is thoroughly rinsed and brought back to the worktable.The internal cleaning continues with pipe cleaners and cotton buds moistened with 99% isopropyl alcohol. A small dental spoon is used to help remove tars and oils from the chamber walls by excavating the gunk. The more of this that is excavated, the fewer buds and pipe cleaners will be needed.After a time, the pipe cleaners and cotton buds begin to emerge lighter, and the cleaning process is halted at this point to continue with a cotton ball and alcohol soak.A soak of cotton balls and isopropyl 99% alcohol help to further clean and refreshed internals for a new steward. Two cotton balls are used. One is stretched and twisted to form a ‘wick’ that helps to draw out the tars and oils. The other cotton ball is stuffed into the chamber.With the help of a thick wire, the cotton wick is guided down the mortise to the draft hole.After the cotton ball is placed in the chamber, the stummel is situated in an egg crate to provide stability and to level the rim with the end of the shank. Using a large eye dropper, isopropyl 99% fills the chamber till it surfaces over the cotton. After 5 minutes or so, the alcohol has been absorbed into the cotton and more alcohol tops off the chamber. The stummel is then put aside to allow the soak to do its work through the night.The next day, the cotton wick and ball in the chamber show the signs of soiling. The cleaning processes through the night helped to draw out the tars and oils and freshened the briar.To make sure all was clean, a few cotton buds and a pipe cleaner confirm that the internal are clean. Moving on.Yesterday, I sent an email to Steve to get his input on addressing the cracks in the bowl. His response was helpful and confirmed that I was on the right path. He wrote:
What a mess. I have fixed a few like that for a fellow who insisted it was his all time favourite. He had dropped it on a concrete floor and it was a mess of over a dozen spidering cracks like that. I drilled the ends of each of them and then did just as you suggested. I did line the pipe with JB Weld over the whole interior. I figured the CA on the outside would bind it together externally and the JB on the Inside would do the same there. Between the two the bowl was cradled in repairs. I use clear CA and even with the thin cracks I used briar dust to add to the binding quality. I cleaned out the cracks with a dental pick to remove loose pieces of dust and briar.
Your $100 question is legit. The pipe I repaired several years ago is still in service according the gent I fixed it for.
Worth a try
What I have seen, and what Steve has confirmed, is that traumas like this can be repaired giving a pipe a new lifetime. The basic principle that Steve described is addressing the external surface and internal chamber and by doing this, the trauma is ‘cradled in repairs.’ I am sure this GEFAPIP Dublin can have another lifetime with a new steward. Encouraged and emboldened 😊, the first thing to do, as Steve suggested, is to clean the crack using a sharp dental probe to make sure it is clean of foreign debris. In the picture you can also see how the stummel’s cleaning removed thin finish now revealing raw briar.The next step is to locate the ends of the cracks and press a drilling guide hole with the sharp dental probe. A magnifying glass is used to help locate the end points because the cracks can become microscopic and it’s important to locate the ends. Why? Small holes will be drilled at each end point and filled with glue. These holes act as anti-creep holes which stop the movement of the crack if it is indeed expanding. It would be comparable to a starting a control fire to stop the advance of a forest fire. The picture is at the top of the small crack on the side of the bowl where a drilling guide hole has been created with the dental probe. The dashed lines run along the crack as it moves downward – it’s not easy to see in the rusticated landscape.The next picture is the middle – where the small crack coming down ends and the larger crack begins. The dental probe is pressing a counter-creep guide hole at the bottom of the small crack. Another guide hole will be pressed into the briar at the top of the long crack – these holes are next to each other.The final drilling guide hole is made at the lower end of the large crack in the nomenclature panel.With the drilling guide holes done, drilling is next. A 1.5 mm drill bit is mounted onto the rotary tool.With a steady hand and a deep breath 😊, counter-creep holes are drilled for each of the crack end points – 4 in all. The first picture shows the upper 3 and the second picture shows the lower panel hole. The middle holes are almost joined. I first spot drop glue in the counter sink holes using regular clear CA glue creating the bookends of the repair. Then, briar dust is sprinkled over glue to aid in the binding quality and for later blending. A toothpick used to spot drop the CA glue. Putting some glue close to the end of the toothpick, gravity is then used to control how much to drop into the hole. This method allows more control it seems to me.The upper 3 counter sink holes are filled with glue and covered with briar dust and then the lower panel hole.Next, filling the cracks with glue will solidify the external repair. My approach is initially to use a ‘Super-Fast Thin’ CA glue which can be treacherous to use because it’s so thin it can get away from you very quickly. With a narrow spout adapter on the Glue bottle, it allows a bit more control. Since the thin CA glue seeps down deeply to fill in the crevasse, it is applied first in the cracks. The thin glue is then followed by regular clear CA glue and briar dust is sprinkled over the entire area. The stummel is put aside through the night to allow the crack patch to cure thoroughly, making sure it’s as strong as it can be.After the crack patching has cured a bit and has solidified, the internal patching is next. Heat resistant J-B Weld is used to spread a thin coat over the area in the chamber that was impacted by the trauma: the small crack line at the floor running up into what I called a ‘briar bruise’ and Steve described as a spidering crack. Two equal parts of the J-B Weld compounds, ‘Steel’ and ‘Hardener’ are placed on a mixing palette that has been covered with scotch tape for easier cleaning. The two compounds are next mixed with a toothpick, and once thoroughly mixed, the mixture is troweled by the toothpick into the chamber and then my latex glove covered finger presses and spreads the mixture over the damaged area. I press to make sure to fill any open areas in the briar caused by the trauma.The finished application looks good. The stummel is set aside to allow both internal and external repairs to cure.Turning now to the saddle stem, the earlier soak in the Oxidation Remover did a good job. Next, the tooth compressions and what appear to be scratches over the bit – upper and lower, need to be addressed. The first step is to use the heating method where the bit is painted with the flame of a Bic lighter. The heating of the vulcanite rubber causes it to expand to reclaim its original position – or in some measure. The before and after comparisons show the results. First, upper before and after.Then lower, before and after.There’s still a long way to go. Heating didn’t remove the deep compressions. Patching is necessary then followed by sanding. The button is also in need of help. The pictures of the upper and lower button lips, show that they have deteriorated to the point where the lip on the upper right (left picture) is almost flush with the bit surface. The lower button lip on the right side (right picture) is also much diminished. The button needs some help and should be rebuilt.The scratching also looks like the GEFAPIP was in a coffee can or something. The compressions will be patched as well.To rebuild the button lips and to patch the compressions, Medium-Thick Black CA glue is used along with an accelerator to quicken the curing process and to hold the glue in place. After cleaning with a cotton pad and alcohol, the glue is applied by spot dropping on the compressions. Then, for the button, several layers of glue are placed on the lips and accelerator is used. This process builds the button out so that there’s enough excess patch material to sand down and to shape the new button.The stem patches have cured. Next, using flat and squared needle files, the patches are filed down. The button is shaped as well.Following the filing, 220 grade paper sands out the file marks and continues to smooth and shape the button.After protective painters’ tape is placed over already ghosting stem logo, the entire stem is sanded with 320 paper using a shoulder guard as well.Next, 600 grade paper is used to wet sand the stem and after this, 0000 grade steel wool is applied. The protective tape over the stem logo is removed at the conclusion of this sanding.The sanding/polishing is continued using micromesh pads beginning by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400. This is followed with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. My oh my – the stem has come a long way. The rebuilt button looks great and there are no vestiges of scratching or the compression patches on the lower bit. With the stem on the sideline, the stummel is back on the table. The repairs to the bowl crack internally and externally, have cured. A few pictures show the post-repair condition at this point. The briar dust has mixed and mingled with CA glue and is over the rusticated surface. The J-B Weld has cured smoothly.Addressing first the external repair, a brass wire brush is used to brush briskly the rusticated surface over the crack area. The good news is that the rustication will be no worse for the wear as the abrasion of the brass work to clean off the excess patching.After the brushing, the rusticated surface looks much improved. As hoped, the rustication helps to mask the crack repair.The underside nomenclature panel counter creep hole mound needs more than the brass brush being on a smooth surface.Using flat and squared needle files, the mound is filed until flush with the panel surface.Next 240 sanding paper, followed by 600 paper and 0000 steel wool continue the sanding and smoothing process.To finish the smoothing/polishing of the nomenclature panel micromesh pads are used beginning first with pads 1500 to 2400 grade. These coarser pads sand the mound area. Then, with the remainder of the micromesh pads, from 3200 to 12000, the entire panel is sanded/polished.The external repair is complete. If one looks closely, the fine line of the crack on the underside can be seen, but all looks good and solid.The internal patching with J-B Weld is sanded down using 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. The sanding is to smooth the patch, but to leave it over the trauma area. Moving on.So much focus has been on repair of the bowl crack, that little attention has been on the stummel as a whole. One interesting thing I notice is that the GEFAPIP Dublin has a distinctive smooth bevel dividing the rusticated rim and the chamber. The original motif undoubtedly was that the bevel was the same black finish as the stummel. To me, showing a bit of smooth briar grain is a nice touch of class giving a pleasing contrast.The decision is made to introduce a contrasted bevel. To clean the bevel and to help create sharp contrasting lines, a wood sphere is used with sanding paper pressed between the sphere and the briar – resting in the bowl of the chamber. The sphere is then rotated around the circumference of the chamber. A picture shows how this works.Initially, 240 grade paper is used and this is followed by 600 grade. The bevel looks great.Now, time to refresh the rusticated finish. With craggy rustication like this GEFAPIP Dublin has, I do not use the flaming approach to applying dye, but a simple surface washing with the dye. The reason for this is that to flame the aniline dye which I normally do with smooth briars, requires applying compounds and using buffing wheels to remove the flamed crust and this will leave compound in the crags and crevasses of the rustification. It would be very difficult to clean the compound left compacted in rustication. So, the approach is to wash the stummel with Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye to freshen the finish and to mask the crack repairs. A pipe cleaner is used to apply the dye.After the dye has been thoroughly applied to the stummel, it is set aside to ‘rest’ for several hours to allow the dye to settle in.The next day has come, and the bowl has been resting through the night allowing the new dye to settle in.One of the results of applying a wash of dye on the rusticated surface is that the dye will leach off onto a steward’s hands when the pipe is first put into service and the bowl is heated. To remove excess dye and to help to minimize the leaching, the bowl is heated to emulate when the pipe is put into service.After the bowl is heated, a cotton cloth is used to briskly rub and buff the rusticated surface. The cloth reveals dye coming off. This is good.Next, a horsehair brush is used to briskly brush the stummel helping to loosen dried, excess dye from the crevasses and to remove it.The stummel looks great after receiving the dye. The crack repair, as hoped, is next to invisible in the rustication and a hairline on the underside panel – only visible if one knows to look for it. Nice. What is needed next is to introduce some contrasting to the black rusticated surface. This adds to the eye appeal of a basically black finish.To do this, the 1800 grade micromesh pad is used to sand over the craggy peaks to expose the briar. This creates an attractive contrasted flecking with the black. The bald peaks also tie in with the natural briar bevel. The picture shows the results – nice.After reuniting Dublin stummel with the stem, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the smooth briar surfaces – bevel, nomenclature underside panel and stem. A cotton cloth wheel dedicated to the compound is mounted on the rotary tool and applied to the smooth areas set at about 40% full power. After application of the compound, the pipes is wiped with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust in preparation for application of the wax.Next, another cotton cloth wheel is mounted on the rotary tool dedicated to application of the wax. Carnauba wax is applied to the stem and stummel. I don’t have a problem with applying a light application of wax onto the rough rusticated surface. The application is light, and I run the wheel parallel with the valleys and peaks which helps spread the wax. The speed of the rotary tool also helps to heat and dissolve the wax which is absorbed by the briar.One more mini project to do. After patching the chamber, a coating is applied to the chamber walls to form a cake starter. A pipe cleaner is inserted through the draft hole to make sure it isn’t blocked.The ingredients used are natural, unflavored yogurt (sour cream may also be used) and activated charcoal. When mixed and applied to the chamber it hardens nicely into a protective layer and cake starter.Using a pipe nail tool, charcoal is mixed into the yogurt. Enough charcoal is used so that the mixture begins to thicken.I always seem to mix more than is needed…. Using the nail, the mixture is troweled into the chamber and then the tool helps to spread it evenly around the chamber. After spreading the yogurt/charcoal mixture, the stummel is put aside to allow the mixture to cure. Note to the new steward: after putting the pipe into service, do not scrape the chamber with metal. Allow a new cake to form after several sessions. To clean the chamber during this period, use a folded pipe cleaner to rub the chamber wall to remove debris.After the chamber layer has cured, again the stem and stummel are united and the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.
I am very pleased with the restoration of this French GEFAPIP 2500 106 S Rusticated Dublin. The cracked bowl was daunting, but the repairs are solid and invisible. This French made Dublin is ready for a new lifetime. The button rebuild also came out very nicely. The flecked rusticated finish is rustic, and the natural briar bevel provides contrasting that catches the eye. The size of this pipe would suggest that it can be considered a ‘pocket pipe’ and used hands free. Ken commissioned the GEFAPIP and will have the first opportunity to claim him in The Pipe Steward Store benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.