Repairing 14 Fills to Revive this 70s/Pre-70s Savinelli 4015 Slim Dublin

The next pipe on the worktable is another interesting pipe that came from what I have called the Lot of 66.  These pipes became part of the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ online collection back in September of 2017.  The huge lot came from a charitable organization in Texas that has thrift stores where they take donations and resell them with the proceeds helping their community.  This Lot of 66 had the by-line of ‘Huge Lot of 66 Smoking Pipes Pre-Owned Pre-Smoked and Deeply Loved’.  The ‘Deeply Loved’ description caused me to send a note to the seller asking what they knew about the origins of the Lot.  A lady wrote back saying that she understood that it belonged to one man who had passed on and his family donated his collection to be sold to help the community.  Here is the Lot of 66 that belonged to a pipe man whose life is reflected in the pipes that he found along the way.  He was the steward and when I received the 66, they became part of my responsibility to restore and pass them on to others who would value them as well.  Here is a picture which was posted on the sellers page that day which now benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – a ministry that my wife and I were co-founders of during the years we lived in Bulgaria that continues to help women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.This is the second pipe that Stacy, a pipe man, and pastor in Pennsylvania, has commissioned.  The first was for a gift for his son.  Stacy also commissioned a pipe for his daughter’s birthday, which is next on the worktable. We communicated about a number of pipes and Stacy settled on a Savinelli 4015 which he would add to his own collection.  I initially labeled the Savinelli as a Chimney shape because of the tall bowl.  Later, I wrote to Stacy with this clarification:

Ah!  This pipe I called a Chimney shape.  It could be described as a Dublin shape as well I suppose.  It is a streamlined, lightweight pipe.  To me, it’s a cool pipe.  Savinelli is a well-known Italian pipe house that has put out nice pipes for a long time.  The challenge of this pipe is that the briar grain has several pits that will need repairing.  The grain has a very distinctive bird’s eye grain which is nice and will come out nicely.

Once the Savinelli 4015 made it to the worktable, I was able to further clarify the shape as a ‘Slim’ Dublin as the shape was described by a ‘Worthpoint’ seller of a Savinelli Milano 4015.  Here are pictures of the Slim Dublin that Stacy chose for himself. The nomenclature on this Savinelli is almost gone.  The only thing I can make out on the left side of the shank are the very faint letters of ‘ELLI’ [over a barely legible] ITALY.  I spent a lot of time with a magnifying glass and shifting angles of light to see if more could be deciphered.  I was hoping that I could identify a line or series, but not this day.The right side of the shank is in a little better shape, but not much.  The Savinelli shield is thin.  To the right of the shield is the shape number I was able to make out: 4015.The 4015 is a shape that is no longer in production.  In the current Savinelli Shapes Chart, the basic Straight Dublin is number 401 (Savinelli Models) along with number 409 and 412 KS.I was able to find an older Savinelli Shape Chart on the main Pipedia Savinelli article page that had a picture of the 4015.  The ‘Slim’ Dublin is definitely slim as it is portrayed on this page.  This Savinelli Dublin is a sharp, distinctive interpretation of the basic Dublin shape.  It reminds me of the Zulu (without the bend) and perhaps the Cutty shape.  I enjoy reading the sales pitches one fines in older ads.  This one closes with, “Every pipe has its destination, its face, its moment, its place.”  Sounds like we’re talking about people! 😊  Unfortunately, there is no date in the brochure.The stem’s Savinelli logo is also very thin.The history of Savinelli Pipes beginning in 1876 and is well-documented in Pipedia’s article (LINK).  The following is a very short summary listed in’s Savinelli information (LINK):

Achille Savinelli Sr. opened in Milano (1876) a store dedicated to smokers. In 1890 his son Carlo Savinelli succeeded him for about 50 years. The grandson of the founder, Achille Savinelli Jr. (1918-1987) in association with Enea Buzzi started pipe production in Brebbia. They split in 1953, Savinelli setting up its own factory in Molina di Barasso.

Giancarlo Savinelli (4th Savinelli’s generation) is currently (2011) managing the company.

Savinelli’s current website also has a much more in-depth history with several interesting topics for the pipe smoker.

I was able to find one more bit of information about Savinelli Shape numbering system from (LINK)

that helped to place a date on the 4015 on the worktable:

Savinelli opted for 3 digits shape code in the 1970’s.
Prior to this date 4 digits code occurred.
Non Pareil” and “Dry System” lines are exceptions to these considerations.

example: classic Billiard shape
former #: 1011 = current #: 111

      regular (gr. 2.5 – 3),
KS: king size (gr. 3.5 – 4),
EX: extraordinaire (gr. 4.5 – 5).

With this information, that is about as far as I am able to drill down on this particular production of Savinelli.  Sometime during the 70s, the shape numbers transitioned from 4 digits to 3.  This would bracket the age of this 4015 then in the 70s/pre-70s.  The condition of the pipe would suggest that he’s traveled a few miles.  The most daunting challenge to bring this unique Slim Dublin back to life is dealing with the fills on the bowl.  It is evident that this was not a high-quality block of briar that the Savinelli folks turned into a pipe.  I found an example of a Savinelli 4015 that had been for sale (LINK) produced for the Milano line and it is a nice-looking pipe.  The ‘slim’ lines are attractive with almost the sense the bowl is mounted on a pencil stem – it’s about that width.My cursory count of 14 fills in the briar of our 4015 is a bit daunting.  The chamber has moderate cake buildup which needs to be cleaned to check the health of the briar beneath.  The rim has some lava flow over it and the stem has a few compressions on the lower side of the bit.  There is oxidation present in the vulcanite stem.

To begin the restoration of this unique Savinelli Slim Dublin, the stem airway is cleaned with a few pipe cleaners moistened with isopropyl 99% alcohol.To address the oxidation in the stem, the stem is placed in a soak of Briarville’s Stem Oxidation Remover.After several hours soaking in the Oxidation Remover, the stem is fished out.  The picture shows the raised oxidation in the vulcanite rubber stem as a result of the soak.Initially, a cotton cloth is used to vigorously rub the stem to remove the raised oxidation.  This is followed by applying a 0000 grade steel wool.The stem looks good.  To help to condition the stem, Paraffin, a mineral oil, is applied to the stem.  The stem is then set aside to soak in the oil.Turning next to the bowl, the chamber is reamed to clear away the carbon cake that has built up.  I discovered quickly that the narrow Dublin chamber is shaped conically and is too narrow for the regular reaming process tools.Passing on the Pipnet Reaming Kit, the Savinelli Fitsall Tool is used to scrape the narrow chamber and is able to reach down to the floor and get to the hard-to-reach places.The Savinelli Tool is followed by sanding the chamber with 220 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen for leverage.  This clears the last vestiges of carbon cake build up and smooths the chamber.After the cleaning of the chamber, an inspection of the chamber finds healthy briar.  Moving on.With the chamber cleaned, the external briar is next addressed.  The bowl is darkened with grime and age.  A few of the fills are visible in the picture below – the lower one has old patch material still in it.  We’ll see if the cleaning dislodges the fill.  A few starting pictures are taken to show the rim and bowl and mark the progress.Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, the rim and bowl are scrubbed using a cotton pad.  A brass brush is also used to clean the lava flow from the rim.The bowl is next taken to the sink where the internals are cleaned.  Using hottish water and anti-oil liquid dish washing soap, shank brushes scrub the mortise.  After the scrubbing, the bowl is thoroughly rinsed and returned to the worktable.The internal cleaning is continued using isopropyl 99% alcohol with cotton buds and pipe cleaners.  After some effort, the cleaners and buds emerge lighter, and the cleaning is called.After the cleaning, a survey of the stummel shows the issues.  The rim cleaned up nicely.The following pictures show the numerous fills that need addressing.  With the stummel now cleaned, these pictures show why Savinelli decided to patch the pits.  The grain shows great potential. There’s a lot of bird’s eye grain populating the briar – as you would expect, opposite to the bird’s eye are the straighter grain patterns.  This Slim Dublin shows great potential.The next order of business is to clean the old fills.  A sharp dental probe is used to do the job.  A series of photos are taken to show the excavation progress. To patch the numerous pits, briar putty will be applied to fill the pits.  After cleaning off the stummel with alcohol, a small puddle of clear CA glue is placed next to a small mound of briar dust.  The toothpick is used to pull dust into the glue and then mixed to form the putty.  More briar dust is pulled gradually into the glue and when it reaches the thickness of molasses, it’s thick enough.The toothpick trowels a small amount to fill each pit. After all, 14 (I think) pits were filled, the stummel was put to the side to allow the putty to thoroughly cure.Turning now to the stem, I detected only two compressions on the lower bit side.  One is very visible and the other is just to the right and below the pronounced compression in the picture below.  To erase or minimize the compression, the heating method is used.  Using a Bic lighter, the bit is painted with the flame.  As the vulcanite heats, physics takes over and the rubber expands to reclaim its original position, or closer to it.  The ‘before and after’ pictures show that the compressions were minimized and sanding will easily finish the job.The thinning Savinelli stem stamp is covered with painters’ tape and the entire stem is sanded with 470 paper.The 470 paper is followed by 600 grade paper and then 0000 grade steel wool is applied.Continuing the sanding and polishing process, 9 micromesh pads are applied starting first with pads 1500 to 2400.  This is followed by pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied which helps to condition the stem and to protect the stem from oxidation.  During the last set of 3 pads, the protective tape was removed.  At this point the pads are not abrasive but polishing and this helps to blend the area around the stem logo. The 14 patches have fully cured.  The flat and square needle files go to work bringing each patch mound flush with the briar surface.  As much as possible, the filing stays on top of the mounds to avoid collateral impact on the surrounding briar.After the filing, 240 sanding paper next makes the rounds to further smooth the patch areas and to remove the filing marks.While I have the 240 paper in hand, the rim is sanded and given a softer, rounded bevel.Next, to further smooth the patch areas, 600 grade paper is used.  One patch is pictured as an example of all.With the myriad of scratches on the stummel and the patched areas, sanding sponges are used to clean the briar.  Starting with coarser sponges and working to lighter sponges, the stummel is sanded.  Even though the nomenclature on both sides of the shank is almost impossible to see, protective painters’ tape is placed where stamping should be.Continuing with the sanding and moving into polishing, micromesh pads are used.  Starting with pads 1500 to 2400 the stummel is sanded.  This is followed by pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each pad, the bowl is wiped with a damp cotton cloth to clear the dust and to give the next pad more traction. The micromesh process did great. The grain emerged very nicely, and the briar darkened naturally.  Even so, the briar dust putty patches are much darker than the surrounding briar.  In order to camouflage these patches, a dark stain will be applied.  Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye will be used.  After wiping the stummel with alcohol, it is warmed with the hot air gun.  Warming the briar causes it to be more receptive to the dye pigment.Next, after the stummel has been warmed, a folded pipe cleaner acts as a brush painting the aniline dye in patches on the stummel.  The wet dye, which is alcohol based, is ‘flamed’ with a lit candle to combust the alcohol in the dye and thereby leaving behind the dye pigment in the grain.  The process is repeated methodically until the entire stummel has received the dye and flamed.  A second round of painting and flaming is done just to make sure the stummel is fully covered.The flamed stummel is then set aside to ‘rest’ through the night allowing the new dye to settle in.The next day, it’s time to ‘unwrap’ the stummel from the crusted flamed dye.  To do this, a felt cloth buffing wheel is mounted onto the rotary tool with the speed set at about 40% full power.  Tripoli compound is then applied to ‘plow’ through the crust.A few pictures show the contrast as the crust is cleared revealing the briar beneath.After the felt wheel has done its work, it is exchanged for a cotton cloth wheel.  Tripoli compound is again applied to the stummel.  The second cycle of Tripoli using the cotton wheel, enables the buffing to reach into the crook of the bowl and shank.  The felt cloth is not able to reach this tight junction.  The other reason for applying an additional round of the more abrasive Tripoli compound is to continue to remove excess dye and to sharpen the grain contrasting.After the Tripoli is applied, the stummel is wiped with alcohol on a cotton cloth to remove excess compound and to lighten the dye hue a bit.Another cotton cloth wheel is mounted to the rotary tool at the same speed.  After the stem and stummel are reunited, Blue Diamond compound is next applied.  Blue Diamond is less abrasive than Tripoli and continues the removal of excess dye and sharpening the grain distinction.After applying the compounds, dust collects on the surface.  A felt cloth is used to clear away this compound dust to prepare the surface before the application of the wax.Another cotton cloth wheel is mounted at the same speed.  Next, carnauba wax is applied to the entire pipe.  After completion, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing to remove excess wax and to raise the shine.This Savinelli 4015 Slim Dublin had some challenges with the 14 fills that had to be repaired.  It was worth it.  The vintage of this Savinelli Slim Dublin is 70s/pre-70s and the profile is unique.  The lines are crisp, and the bowl is tall – I first called it a Chimney shape.  The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 13/16 inches, Rim width: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber width: 3/4 inches, Chamber depth: 1 11/16 inches.  This Savinelli will provide good fellowship for a new steward as it begins a new lifetime.  Stacy commissioned this pipe and will have the first opportunity to claim him from the Pipe Steward Store benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  The ‘before’ picture reminds us of how far we’ve come.  Thanks for joining me!




3 thoughts on “Repairing 14 Fills to Revive this 70s/Pre-70s Savinelli 4015 Slim Dublin

  1. Pingback: A Special Gift: A French Châtel Sculpted Edelweiss Horn Stem Billiard – The Pipe Steward

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