I have been looking for a nice example of a Dr.Grabow Belvedere wirecarved #36 billiard for a while . I just recently found this one on Ebay and was very reasonably priced. I have passed on a few mostly because the rims were too beat up. I try to find the best examples i can on wirecarved pipes , as the wirecarving is hard to fix. It can be done but requires A LOT of work.
Belvedere was a line of Dr.Grabow produced from 1955-1964/65. They came in two finishes, smooth and wirecarved. Like the Starfire line all wirecarved pipes were stained black. The five Belvedere’s i currently own smoke extremely well and cool.
The Ebay pictures i saw looked like it had superb wirecarving so i bid and luckily won it as only bidder.The pipe arrived and it looked like it was lightly smoked or well taken care of. Then likely put in storage for many years.
Notice the corrosion around the stem and tenon? That’s a sign that the stem has sit for a long time with moisture around the tenon and adjustomatic. The stem was likely stuck when the Ebay seller got it. I noticed some slight marring around the collar and stem. The seller most likely used a rag and pliar’s to unstick it. At least he used a rag. Most don’t and it leaves a mess to repair.
I mention this as i broke one of my Grabow adjustomatic rules and tried the adjustomatic stem before doing some basic matienance on it . It nearly stuck on me . Luckily i was able to apply downward pressure while unscrewing it and get the adjustomatic to grab and unlock. If that dosen’t work than a suck adjusto can be a nerve racking problem at times. I have seen stems eat up with plier marks as someone tried to get one unstuck.
The adjustomatic stem is a excellent feature on a Dr. Grabow ,if you take care of them and do a little preventive maintenance .If you ever had to deal with a overclocked Kaywoodie or the like, then you will appreciate a adjustomatic stem.
I will address the sticky adjustomatic a little later in the post . I will show you some simple steps to fix one that’s sticky and to prevent one in the future. I have refurbished at least sixty Dr.Grabow’s with adjustomatic stems and picked up a few tricks dealing with them along the way.
I started the refurbish by giving the bowl a light cleaning ,as it did not need much. I gave the wirecarving a good brush with water and mild soap to clean the dust and dirt from the wirecarving .The stem is getting a soak in alcohol.
Its hard to tell from the pictures but there is some deep dark brown oxidation in the stem so i soaked in in some Oxy Clean and warm water. I pulled the stem out about every 20-30 minutes and gave it a good scrub with a green pad.
Be VERY careful around the spade as too much heat it will pop out.
Now its time to work on the sticky adjustomatic.
After running some pipe cleaners through the stem with alcohol to get rid of any Oxy Clean residue i dipped the adjusto in some mineral oil and turned the stem on its end. I let it sit for about 30 minutes to allow the oil to get into the adjusto and lubricate it.
I then stuck the cleaner/stinger back into stem and heated it allowing the heat to move back to the adjusto and oil. The heat will make the adjusto work like new.
After letting the stem cool for a couple of minutes, i put the stem in a old shank i have and gave the stem a clockwise turn. It works flawlessly now.
Every once in a while its a good idea to oil the adjusto and give it a few turns .Always clean the pipe after every smoke with a pipe cleaner. Its also a good idea to leave the stem and bowl apart for a few minutes or so to let the pipe dry around the adjusto. Follow these simple steps and you will never have a problem with a adjustomatic stem sticking . If you are going to store one for a long period turn the stem back about a 1/8 of a turn and do not store the pipe with stem fully tight. This will keep the metal tenon from sticking over time to the metal collar on the shank.
Proceeding on with the refurbish, I gave the light chatter on the stem a good sanding with 500 grit. Then sanded whole stem with 600-2500 grit
I then cleaned the screw in tenon with steel wool and replaced the stinger with a correct rook stinger that came with the Belvedere’s. The seller most likely put a Grabow scoop stinger in it as the original was lost and they did not know a Belvedere takes a rook type or have one handy.
I placed the stem and bowl back together and using a black sharpie i touched up some small spots on the wirecarving where the color had become thin or knocked off. All were as small or smaller than the tip of the sharpie.Then i gave it one more rub down with mineral oil to give it a look over before buff and wax.
I try to collect at least one example of a # 36 Billiard and a #85 Poker in all finishes offered by Dr.Grabow in my favorite lines. I have had a wirecarved Belvedere poker for a while now. It finally has a billiard mate to hang out with.
I hope my tips on keeping a adjustomatic stem working properly will aid some of you and you will not have to go through some of the trial and errors i have been through. If you run into any problems with one and need some advice please feel free to contact me.