374. Fletch Hiner on Creating a Dress Black Stain With Iron/Vinegar Solution


Full of Beans: I was blown away by the response for the Pete Geek Mugs. We’ve passed 150. Incredible.  Deneen’s digital artwork mockup will be posted as soon as it arrives. Until then, you can look on my amateur effort seen above for the Ramsey mug.

Last Call for XL5BCs: Smokingpipes.com is sold out, however Smokingpipes Europe has three. Two are solid (NOT filtered) and one is 9mm filtered. This is a first-come, first-served thing, and here are the codes:

PPN 2023 Sandblasted (XL5s) P-Lip (9mm filter) SMOKINGPIPES EUROPE (Last one!)

PPN 2023 Sandblasted (XL5s) P-Lip SMOKINGPIPES EUROPE (Two available!)

If the code doesn’t work, the pipe is sold. Thanks to all the Pete Geeks who made this year’s POY such a success.



This morning I’m happy to again welcome Fletch Hiner, CPG, with his DIY account of a Dress Black finish using the iron-vinegar solution discussed in Post #370 and Post #367.

by Fletch Hiner, CPG

I started my solution by heating my vinegar to approximately 142 degrees using a coffee cup warmer (this is what use for pickling silver work as well). I left the steel wool in the solution for about two weeks for maximum effect.


Instead of using an estate pipe that is potentially packed full of old stain, tar, oils, and old finish, I started out with two unfinished (not Peterson) pipes from a whole box I had acquired at a pipe show. These pipes were completely virgin, never stained, finished, or smoked–I also did not have any suitable Peterson estate pipes for this experiment! LOL.


While I was waiting for the solution, I stained one of the pipes with Fiebing’s USMC Black dye for a control comparison.


After two coats of stain set with an alcohol lamp and dried for 24 hours, I applied a coat of Antique Oil finish and rubbed it out.

After the oil dried, I buffed the pipe with tripoly and then applied a heavy coat of beeswax with a loose cotton buff at 1725rpm.

With the Fiebing dyed pipe finished, it was time to move to the other pipe. I immersed the pipe in the strained iron/vinegar solution at 142F for about 35 minutes.

After one immersion and drying I wasn’t satisfied with what I saw, so I immersed it for another 35 minutes.

This seemed sufficient, so I moved on to oiling. As I did with the Fiebing’s dye control pipe, I rubbed on a single coat of Antique Oil finish and allowed it to dry.


This turned the pipe completely black. Once the oil finish dried, I buffed the pipe and applied a heavy coat of beeswax.

With both stummels stained, dyed and finished I moved on to the stems, giving them a polish and bending them to shape.

Fiebing’s dye pipe in the foreground with the iron/vinegar dye pipe in the background:

It’s tough to tell the difference in this light, but the iron/vinegar pipe has an ever so slight grey tinge to it while the dyed pipe does not.


The pipes shown with a Peterson Cara Dress Black finish.



a Cautionary Tale by Ken Sigel, CPG

My Fellow Pete Geeks,

I’ve had some unfortunate experiences on eBay lately that I’d like to share. This isn’t about unscrupulous sellers, misleading pictures or the like. It is not about buyers and sellers. It is instead about eBay international shipments, specifically those from the UK.

My last 3 purchases from UK sellers never made it to me. Each time I received a full refund from eBay, and so you could argue “no harm, no foul,” and to some degree I suppose that’s true. Yet sadly the pipes themselves were confiscated in transit. I didn’t get them. The vendors didn’t get them back. All were old, collectible Petes. All have gone into some black hole in the eBay International Shipping system.

I believe this is catching both buyers and sellers by surprise. At least it caught my last seller unaware.

In my most recent mishap, I was bidding on the original 306 shape. It’s part of a family of shapes I love and I felt this one would make a nice addition.  I had my misgivings, however, so before bidding I asked the seller about shipping to the USA.  He assured me he had been successful and so I bid. Below is our communications, starting with optimism, only to be shocked and saddened.


Here is the “paper trail” of my last purchase gone awry:


I won the auction, and it was looking like the seller may have been right and the pipe was indeed on the way:


Then oops…

I am not suggesting we fight  eBay. Rather, I am suggesting that we approach UK purchases with open eyes. We may get our money back, but far too many great old pipes will simply disappear as this continues.

So for me it’s now…

eBay UK? no way!


Mark: This has happened to me and I know of at least two other Pete Geeks who have suffered under this moral tyranny. If this has happened to you, please comment below. If anyone has ideas on how eBay UK pipe vendors can be made aware of this problem, please let me know. I’ve contacted 3 vendors in the past year when I was getting ready to bid and in each case they’ve told me in no uncertain terms they couldn’t be bothered to ship via DHL, FedEx or UPS.  I’m not averse to sending pleas out to all UK vendors who regularly sell Petes just to plead with them to consider shipping possibilities outside of eBay. The UK is full of unwanted pipes that could use good homes.



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