You are currently viewing 311. Paul Combs, CPG on Repairing the House Pipe Stem of an 1898 Dutch Billiard

311. Paul Combs, CPG on Repairing the House Pipe Stem of an 1898 Dutch Billiard

The 1898 Shape 4 came to me with a broken off bit tip, location of the missing piece unknown, and the previous owner(s) had affixed a part of another bit in its place with some glue and a metal band.

The bone tenon extension was still on the bit and fully intact and the Peterson’s Patent stamp on the back of the bit was present but so faint that my camera barely picked it up. The bowl was actually in good condition, just dirty with substantial carbon buildup. Using the intact bit from another house pipe as a guide (the 1918 Deluxe) I aligned them visually and determined that the missing end must have been close to 2 inches long.

I masked off the patent stamp on the back of the bit to protect it while I worked and removed the tenon extension. I slowly heated the bit with the heat gun and when it was soft gently straightened it out for the next step. Measuring with the digital calipers I could see there was just enough room in the airway for a 6mm diameter threaded joiner – this would allow a 4mm passage through the joiner, which being this close to the tip (I hoped) would not significantly disrupt the airflow as the bore continued to reduce to 1.5 mm at the tip. I would have preferred to place the joiner right where the original break was, but due to the taper of the bit the top and bottom airway walls were paper thin at this spot, so I decided to remove about an inch of material from below the original break in order to move to a slightly thicker part of the stem walls for the repair – I could make up the lost length by leaving more length on the tip I was adding.

I prepped the facing of the bit and made up an aluminum joiner (6mm – 0.75mm pitch) using a threading die (no single point thread cutting this time around). After running a matching tap into the airway, I mounted the threaded joiner into the bit with Extra Strength rubber reinforced Black CA. One of the things was also clear at this point was that, measured side-to-side, the original air channel was not quite in the center of the bit. I would have to deal with that later – since I intended to smoke this pipe, a straight airway was (slightly) more important to me than perfectly straight outward appearance.

I went through some old Peterson P-lip bits and found I had a one with the length and width and height needed to face up to the original with enough material to shape it down to match. It was a nice wide saddle bit, a bit oxidized but otherwise completely sound and just long enough. I prepared the ‘donor’ bit by heating and bending it straight, mounting in a holding fixture in my lathe and cutting it off square just a bit over length.

I drilled and threaded the air channel with a tap to receive the joiner. I made a threaded holder for the bit end and cut down the face on my lathe removing material in increments of a thousandth until the two parts threaded together nice and straight with no gap, and the (flat) tops and bottoms aligned correctly. I left it unglued at this step so I could easily take apart / screw back together to test fit / check progress (which I must have done a hundred times before I was finished).

At this point I did some more shaping on the shank of the new tip to get it to match as closely as possible. One of my goals during this project was to leave the original bit as untouched as possible so that carving and shaping would only be done on the replacement tip, so I taped off the original portion with masking tape to prevent / protect from any errant filing or sanding. Shaping of the new tip was done first with a file, then the sanding drum on my Dremel, followed by slow work with a fine flat needle file, followed by fine sandpaper, then 00 steel wool, then 0000 steel wool. (Final finish sanding came later came after joining with the Micro Mesh.) Once the shape was really close, I glued the joiner into the new tip, again with black CA, making sure the threads thoroughly glued and also just a film of glue on the mating faces that mostly squeezed out upon joining.

Next came final shaping and sanding. I made a mistake by doing final buff and polish while the whole bit was still straight, before heating and bending to its final curve. Although my repair joint had been nearly invisible before, the process of heating and bending (I suspect due to the expansion and contraction) made the joint more visible. I was able to improve it slightly by applying a small amount of the black CA around the joint, removing the excess with 0000 steel wool, and re-polishing.

For the final bend, I really wanted to keep as close to the original as possible but the placement of my repair made that impossible because the 1-inch joiner was rigid and I didn’t want to risk pushing through the top of the bit, so I compromised by moving the primary curve slightly lower than on the original. In looking at the various house pipes in the 1896 catalog and Peterson book, they look to me to be more of an arch than the original bend on this pipe was, so I think I came out OK. I also theorize that a more gentle bend will create less turbulence in the smoke than a sharp one.

Regarding the smoking experience, I am still getting to know this pipe. The long bit provides quite a ‘fun factor’ – should we call that the ‘Gandalf Effect’? The draw is good and smooth although it does offer a bit more resistance than a regular sized system pipe (side-by-side comparison to an XL5) and compared to a regular-length pipe the smoke has definitely cooled a bit by the time it travels all that way up the bit. I am fortunate to have three other large Peterson house pipes to compare it to and although this one has by far the longest bit of the four at 13”, it also happens to have the smallest bowl (20mm chamber diameter, 39mm depth).

So far I am finding that I don’t get the flavor nuances from the Shape 4 that I do from my wider-bowled pipes, for example the Orientals in KBV King’s Ransom don’t step forward for me in this pipe the way they do in my 1918 Deluxe House Pipe (with 9.5” stem, 24mm chamber diameter, 59mm depth). This may simply be due to more surface-area of the burning tobacco in the bigger bowl which is an argument in favor of wider-bowled pipes in general.

With most of my pipes I get good smoking results with a snug inverted pack (aka ‘Air Gap’ method) but that has not worked as well in this pipe. The Shape 4 seems to want a looser pack. I recently tried SPC Mississippi River in a smallish cube-cut, gravity fed with better results—the tobacco burned more evenly and more of the nuanced flavors came through. I also find the larger-bowled house pipes to be more forgiving of the occasional series of big puffs than the Shape 4 is, which seems to heat up fairly quickly by comparison – I think there simply is not as much briar mass on this pipe to absorb the heat. More research and experimentation are needed but I can say that this long-stemmed Shape 4 delivers the classic dry Peterson System smoke I appreciate and is a lot of fun.

 

 

The Magic Link for the CPG / PPN 2022 pipes went out November 1st and I’ve already heard from several Pete Geeks on the east coast of the US and in Ireland who’ve received their pipes. I’m still processing CPG certificates and Merit Badges, so please bear with me.

In the meantime, if you didn’t receive the link and were signed up for a pipe, please let me know asap. I’ve already heard from three pipemen who didn’t get the link (which may be in your spam folder if it wasn’t caused by my oversight).

Andrew Moultrie’s pipe

 I’ll begin sending out invitations to those on the Alternate List if I don’t hear from the remaining folks on the original list by Saturday the 12th,.

If you’d like to have your name placed as an alternate, send me an email at petegeek1896@gmail.com. I can’t promise you a pipe, but I’ve already had a half dozen decide not to participate in the project. It’s important to fulfill our 90 pipe obligation, as I’m thinking it would be fun to do this again next year (after I recover from this year).

Casey Jones’s pipe

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Christopher Lauer
Christopher Lauer
25 days ago

What an amazing stem repair!! And to think I worry about a little tooth chatter and oxidation…not anymore I won’t. Thanks for sharing this stem restoration project.
BTW, I received my CPG/PPN pipe yesterday afternoon and am highly pleased. I love the unique Chat with a Smoker insert. I am a huge ephemera fan and this was the “icing on the cake” for me. A huge thank you to Mark and all that made this a reality!!

Last edited 25 days ago by Christopher Lauer
Andrew Cook
Andrew Cook
22 days ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

Mark, If history is our guide… a typo makes it MORE collectible!

Gary Hansen
Gary Hansen
25 days ago

Sweet looking briar, perfect Hobbit accessory, nice restoration.
Nice to see a peterson getting an extended life

Nevaditude
Nevaditude
25 days ago

Paul, incredible work on that beautiful rare system pipe. You are an amazing craftsman!
Mark, thank you for sharing an OUTSTANDING tale of a Pete Geek making his pipe work.
Also, THANKS for making the PPN pipe a reality, you & all in Dublin who brought forth this amazing pipe. I am beyond happy with mine! It is gorgeous!
Next year?…I’m on board! 😃be well…

Last edited 25 days ago by Nevaditude
Paul Combs
Paul Combs
24 days ago
Reply to  Nevaditude

Thanks Nevaditude. 😉

John Schantz
John Schantz
25 days ago

That is a big ol’ stem. Another old Pete brought back to life. Nice.

Ralle Perera
Ralle Perera
25 days ago

Nice one this. Nice work. But the best part in this article is picture of you in the chair. But it is the contens of the bookshelf that is realy interesting. 😎

Paul Combs
Paul Combs
24 days ago
Reply to  Ralle Perera

Thanks Ralle. 😉

Joe
Joe
25 days ago

First off, I didn’t really appreciate the scale of this pipe until Mr. Combs was with it. It’s huge! It’s epic! As for the method of packing, it’s curious that the air gap method isn’t panning out. Have you tried the Frank Method for this? Also, your repair method reminds me very much of my former profession as a medical sales rep for orthopedic surgery. Your method of stem repair is pretty much how they repair broken bones with clean breaks. The only thing I would add is that with the threaded insert, you then create a potential for two… Read more »

Paul Combs
Paul Combs
24 days ago
Reply to  Joe

Thank you Joe! So I had to look up and get a YouTube refresher on the Frank Method – I will try that next. Copy that on the stress riser – that is a familiar concept to me from many years of building and flying model airplanes and yes, it is definitely a risk for this bit with that joiner in it and I will be cautious, although even at 124 years old, Vulcanite is an impressively strong and (under the right conditions) flexible material.

Scott Forrest
Scott Forrest
25 days ago

Amazing job, Paul.

Paul Combs
Paul Combs
24 days ago
Reply to  Scott Forrest

Thank you Scott.

Gary Hamilton
Gary Hamilton
25 days ago

Wow Paul, you knocked this one out of the ballpark, just fabulous! Looks like you put your 1934 South Bend lathe through a workout! Excellent job on the facing cuts too, just wow! I would have loved to see the work holding setup you used. For those not that familiar with lathe work, trying to hold an odd shaped item, like a pipe stem, and then making facing cuts to keep the faces of the mating surfaces parallel to within one thousandth (0.001″) of an inch is no easy task. I had to grin when I read about you taking… Read more »

Paul Combs
Paul Combs
24 days ago
Reply to  Gary Hamilton

Thanks Gary! I thought you might appreciate the nuances of the machining work. Yes, the SB earned its keep on this adventure (again). I have a fixture for holding pipe bits that is a 4″ length of 6061 aluminum tube, 1.5″ OD, 1″ ID with four opposing thumb screws about a quarter inch from one end – this is what I use to hold already cut bits (after straitening) and it is easy to adjust / center in the 4-jaw independent chuck. I used it to cut off the ‘donor’ bit for this project, but could not use if for… Read more »

Gary Hamilton
Gary Hamilton
24 days ago
Reply to  Paul Combs

Paul, Thanks for the machining “insight” as to the behind the scenes details on work holding. The fixture you made with the 4 opposing thumb screws is called a “spider” in old time machinist lingo. I think you are well past “learning the machining craft”, this was a major accomplishment with perfect results! And I believe you have the correct terms aptly applied. I completely understand on the pass through limitations of the spindle bore. With my lathe, I’m limited to about 20mm maximum. I completely follow on the use of the threaded holder in the collet, just another “work… Read more »

Douglas Owen
Douglas Owen
24 days ago

Hi Mark: tried to email you on the PPN pipe, bounced back to me, can you put me on the waiting list, I thought I was signed up but received no notices. Thanks.

Ken Sigel
Ken Sigel
24 days ago

Paul,
A truly exceptional job on the repair. Not only was the repair wonderfully done, but it was very well documented. I will also second your thoughts on both the large pipes of that period and the long stems. I have a number of that size, each is a great smoke. However my 01 and 03 with 16″ stems almost seem to smoke themselves! The 01 took a lot of work to refurbish and I was reluctant to fire it up. Mark I convinced otherwise. He was so very right! Again, great job and excellent write up. Well done.

Paul Combs
Paul Combs
24 days ago
Reply to  Ken Sigel

Thanks Ken, much appreciated! I would love to learn more about your pipes and your refurbishment of the the 01 – and I am glad you decided to smoke it. 🙂

Paul Combs
Paul Combs
24 days ago

Thank you all for the kind feedback! It was a lot of fun sharing this Peterson repair adventure with you and Mark has been great to work with. 😀

P.S.: Mark, the CPG / PPN 2022 pipes look awesome. Maybe next year’s should be a Patent System House Pipe!

Richard Roberts
Richard Roberts
23 days ago

One and all, greetings. I stand in awe of Mr Combs restoration of this unusual model of a Pete. other than to say, Wow!, I am left wishing to find just such a pipe someday. All that said, thank you Mark for putting in the time and effort that must have been required to get the CPG/PPN pipes out to those lucky enough to be among the lucky few. If the pipe I am told is coming to me resembles that now belonging to Andrew Moultrie then I shall be pleased indeed. Meanwhile, happy times with your new pipe, Andrew.… Read more »

Andrew Cook
Andrew Cook
22 days ago

Lovely work Paul!! A true masterpiece!
**Mark, The CPG/PPN pipe looks great!! Fantastic job making that happen! Here’s to hoping a few people drop out so my alternate spot gets called 😉