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never mind - 12-18-2014, 04:16 PM

Okay, not to be dissuaded by the lack of interest in the original subject...I'll change it slightly. Still related to the original topic, as it involves refinishing two war-time Hoppe Pro cues, and pics of each will follow.

The following is mostly for my own documentation and to refer friends to who are refinishing antique cues, so if it bores you, I completely understand. If not, I welcome discussion.

I have purchased 7 antique cues in the last month, so I guess I've become 're-interested' in them. While digging around in this forum, looking for examples of old M26 1/2 cues, I found two beauties that, sadly, had been converted. If you own a cue, it's your right to do what you want with it, but here are my thoughts:
  • if a cue is rare, only make necessary repairs
  • if a cue is not rare, but it looks nice, leave it original - don't even re-wrap
  • if a cue is not rare, and it looks crappy, do what you have to do.
  • let experts do the work if you are in doubt as to your own abilities, as opposed to taking a chance and ruining something
  • Titlist conversions are getting out of hand - too many crappy to average cue makers are using them as practice pieces. I know, I've given them the benefit of the doubt and bought a few. If you have to do it, use a crappy cue with decent wood and a thick joint. It's more cost-effective for you, and it leaves the better Titlists for those who are happy to do less to them.
  • there are exceptions to all of the above

A few conversions I've had done by an expert cue-maker:
  • beat-up 2-piece 1960's Hoppe Pro, 'Willie Hoppe' name saved and ivory ring added.
  • Nice oak 1-piece that had just enough good wood to yield a beautiful Hoppe Pro re-creation, 'Willie Hoppe' name and weight-stamp saved
  • Nearly-destroyed common-wood 1-piece Titlist, converted to a fancy 2-piece with inlays and ivory joint

Two 'saves' (I, of course, did not do the work):
  • ebony M26 1/2 2-piece with severe butt damage, large crack in butt (this all sounds terrible, I know), no joint. Re-created a 1910's ivory-jointed M26 1/2, wide butt and all, adding ivory ring and black butt-plate (after checking to make sure they were valid options in the 1910's).
  • M26 1/2 with bad butt-crack and severe damage to some butt veneers and veneered butt-plate. Repaired all damage, refinished the cue with a satin finish, created a new shaft.

Effects of lacquer on wood color over 90 years

With my first cue pick-up, I immediately ran into an interesting exception to my own 'rules': Model 26 1/2, all original, unstained silk wrap (rare without stains), MOP wedge, 3/4" ivory butt (one crack), straight shaft, no damage...basically, it looked to be unplayed - even had what looked like an original unchecked tip. Given that a name was etched into the MOP wedge, this was probably a gift cue that lived in a closet its entire life. Who in their right mind would do anything to such a cue? Well, me possibly - the slightly-yellow finish had combined with the wood below to give a greyish-brown appearance that was not very attractive. I knew from experience that this probably meant 'purple heart'. Imagining how beautiful the points and butt would be if refinished, bringing out the nearly 100-yr old Purpleheart colors, it's tough not do have it refinished. But for now I'm obeying my own rule and leaving it alone.

Dirt, blue chalk and maple

I also picked up two war-time cues, both with wretched finishes - the nasty bluish-grey maple forearm wood that is difficult to look at, and which I automatically put in the 'refinish' stack. One is ebony and the other is a nice rosewood (not Brazilian). Everything on the ebony cue was smooth as silk: points, joint-forearm interface, even the butt-ivory ring-buttplate. The wrap was salvageable. The rosewood cue had more bluing, discoloration (looked like heat stains) in the points, but other than very slight popping of the points, was fantastic. The main issues were the ugly bluish-grey maple in the forearm, a wrap that needed to be replaced, very crappy skinny shaft, and a slightly-bent pin. And the wood was not exotic.

Demise of Bullseye French polish - finding a replacement

For years I have been using Bullseye shellac 'French polish' to refinish such cues, but I gave my supplies away when I got out of the hobby, and to my dismay, this product has been discontinued. Bullseye still makes shellac, but the instructions are for wiping on and letting dry, not 'french polishing' which involves constant rubbing. The actual shellac liquid looks different as well, so I haven't tried it on anything yet (but I plan to). Attempting to get the hand-rubbed 'french polish' look, I tried a new technique on the rosewood cue and failed miserably. It involved Danish oil to start (which was fine), followed by a wipe-on called 'Restore a Finish', then Renaissance wax. The result was a cue with nice grain showing due to the Danish Oil, but otherwise very dull. This was entirely my fault, but I knew it could be 'un-done' - 'Restore a Finish' is for cleaning up damaged finishes, not really for creating a new finish. When the result wasn't good, I tried to add some lustre using Renaissance Wax, and that was also a fail. There are good wipe-on poly's (Min-Wax), but the products I chose were inappropriate.

A Candidate Cue for refinishing

That cue put aside for later consideration, I tried something different with the ebony cue. The first consideration is always "Am I about to destroy a piece of history?" War-time cues are difficult to find, but this one had a few qualities that made me decide to refinish it: 1) very ugly forearm and overall bad original finish. 2) No label. The Brunswick labels are normally on top of the finish in the 1940's cues, so it's possible someone removed it, but there was no evidence. 3) Perfect construction (smooth everywhere) and no visible damage (not even a ding) to the wood beneath the finish, and you could just barely tell that there was probably some great figuring between the points. 4) thicker-than-normal ivory ring with no cracks. If it had had the label, I would have considered it a good enough example of a war-time ebony cue, and probably not touched it. But no label, along with all the other characteristics, told me that refinishing it would yield an amazing-looking cue.

Removing old finish

First step is always getting rid of the old finish. I used to use a stripper, then sand. I've found something that works much better: Magic Eraser with rubbing alcohol. The only real danger is rubbing the ink out of the 'Willie Hoppe' signature and weight stamp, but I've found that it's otherwise a very simple technique and much less-intrusive than prior methods;i.e-you are not removing any wood. Once the finish is off, use alcohol to clean up and prepare the surface appropriately for whatever finish you choose to apply.

Min-Wax rub-on poly & Rottenstone

Still looking for a rub-on product that would give the 'french polish' results I prefer, I tried Min-wax rub-on poly, after two coats of neutral Danish Oil (to seal and bring out the grain from inside the wood). Three rubbed-on coats with light sanding between each, then intense buffing, gave a pretty good result, but not what I wanted. My antique cue-collecting buddy, Joe G., recommended a set of products, along with a book by Alan Fitchett: 'Wood repair finishing refinishing'. Based on the book and conversations with Joe, I sanded lightly with 400grit and non-blooming oil, wiped clean, then went after it with rottenstone, first testing on the butt. The result was exactly what I was looking for, but a LOT more work than the old Bullseye french polish product: a smooth, shiny satin finish, similar to the satin plain janes SW used to make, but not quite as shiny.

The rosewood cue will be re-done with either padding lacquer or shellac (both hand-rubbed finishes), followed by rottenstone.

'Before and After' pics of both cues to follow.

Last edited by runscott; 02-04-2015 at 05:50 PM.
  
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01-04-2015, 08:40 AM

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removed due to no interest.
Wow Really?
  
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01-04-2015, 10:03 AM

I was surprised there were no responses, but I figure most of us who collect such things are already conversing via phone and email - perhaps all of us, actually.
  
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01-05-2015, 07:37 PM

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I was surprised there were no responses, but I figure most of us who collect such things are already conversing via phone and email - perhaps all of us, actually.
I stumbled upon this thread and was looking forward to hearing all about them. I love history.
  
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02-04-2015, 04:05 PM

Sorry about that! Well, I modified the initial post to include my thoughts on refinishing antique pool cues - not sure if that counts as 'history' - and the other day I created a thread on Balke-Collender history.

I've been working on design for a re-vamped '4 Veneer Balke Collender' website, which will include a lot more than just Titlist and Hoppe Pro information. It's going to take a while, so I'll use this 'History' sub-forum to save information, and hopefully gather some from others like you who are interested in billiard history.
  
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02-10-2015, 12:25 PM

...wrong thread

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09-22-2018, 08:26 AM

Fantastic info runscott! I think that this side of the forum gets forgotten about. The info you have provided has been invaluable to myself.


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09-22-2018, 09:38 AM

Yup.


I love reading about his refinish adventures.


.


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09-22-2018, 10:26 AM

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Yup.


I love reading about his refinish adventures.


.
Likewise - thanks for all your help, and thanks to the previous poster for bumping this thread.

I was telling my girlfriend last night, if it's old and made of wood, leather or felt, I will often knowingly pay too much because I just 'have' to get my hands on it. Every time an old item goes from worn-out beyond usable to restored, I feel very good about it. It's really amazing how many cues can be brought back to life, despite all evidence to the contrary. At some point I will create a web-page showing my most desperate projects - most were finished by great cue-makers rather than myself. Jerry Rauenzahn and Dave Barenbrugge in particular, have both created accurate restorations of cues that barely had anything left. Their vision and attention to remaining clues was amazing.
  
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09-24-2018, 09:42 PM

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Originally Posted by runscott View Post
Likewise - thanks for all your help, and thanks to the previous poster for bumping this thread.

I was telling my girlfriend last night, if it's old and made of wood, leather or felt, I will often knowingly pay too much because I just 'have' to get my hands on it. Every time an old item goes from worn-out beyond usable to restored, I feel very good about it. It's really amazing how many cues can be brought back to life, despite all evidence to the contrary. At some point I will create a web-page showing my most desperate projects - most were finished by great cue-makers rather than myself. Jerry Rauenzahn and Dave Barenbrugge in particular, have both created accurate restorations of cues that barely had anything left. Their vision and attention to remaining clues was amazing.
My help? What did I do?

Most of the time I feel like an amateur fumbling in the dark. Honestly, I have been impressed with your efforts.

Tell me...what would you do with this?



I have it posted in the gallery. It is one of my greater acquisitions. https://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?t=479371

The condition it spectacular, but it is "dirty". I feel it could be brightened up. Obviously, the worn down veneers on the bottom would take an expert cue maker with the proper veneers. But what about just cleaning it up?

Was this originally a shellac? It's a very early 26 1/2 Trophy cue I think. Too early for a varnish I think.

.


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09-25-2018, 02:41 AM

Here's a similar one that Jerry Rauenzahn did for me. It was missing the wedge, joint and did not have a ring or buttplate. We used old catalogs to see what our options would have been, but ultimately went with a copy of Willie Hoppe's cue shown in the Billiard Encyclopedia. I'll post some before pics when I have more time ... and locate them.

http://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?t=71682

But to answer your question, I wouldn't do anything to it based on the pictures you are showing. Add some close-up photos of the forearm so we can see how much ground-in stuff there is, and I'll give you my suggestions, but I don't normally mess with a cue like that unless it's actually broken somewhere.

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09-28-2018, 09:53 AM

Some additional pics.

I am really wondering what the butt wood is. Right now thinking maybe wenge.

You can see the condition of the ivory joint and the splice/veneers is spectacular, as well as the MOP wedge/veneers. You can see the forearm is a little dirty and veneers a bit dull. Just age.

The veneers on the bottom are partly chipped away. Of course, that can easily be restored, but I don't know that I want to have that done.

My first thought is leave it alone. Don't remove any patina.












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09-28-2018, 11:04 AM

Minor Old Cue cleaning 101

If I just want to clean surface dirt and marks off of an old cue, I lightly rub alcohol on it, checking results often. Since this cue (and most like it) will have the worn-out remains of an ancient finish, the alcohol will very quickly get to the wood in places. So you need to have a plan for a minor refinish that will blend with the old. In this 'alcohol cleaning' example I would use something that can be rubbed on that can serve as a sealer and finish and that can be rubbed over old lacquer finishes. There is an excellent old softcover book on working with wood that describes all the finish types and what types of existing finishes they can be applied over. I always consult it, even when I think I'm certain of what I'm doing. BTW, I used this technique on the old Palmer I have for sale and you can't tell it's been touched.

If the cue looks nice but has some more serious problems that you can't stand looking at;e.g-black or white scuffs in the maple forearm or ugly but not impossible dings, then I use Magic Eraser. It probably won't do much to modern finishes, but it will strip an old Hoppe Pro or something like yours, very effectively. I pour some alcohol on the Magic Eraser, then ring it out and start scrubbing. Have soft clean t-shirt rags and more alcohol ready for cleaning off the old finish/soap residue. The Magic Eraser will bring most of the minor dings up as well. Since the old finish is mostly gone you can now use whatever finish you like, doing your best to duplicate the original finish. You can use a tiny amount of sandpaper when you think you have it ready to finish, but obviously the least amount possible. If, after cleaning, the cue has stains in the maple forearm or other marks that wouldn't come out, or if you just want to bring out the grain better, seal with Danish oil. Keep in mind that even the 'natural' Danish Oil will darken the wood.

Also keep in mind that alcohol will rub off the old labels that were applied OVER the finish, which is how the earlier ones were applied - even a small amount. The newer ones (most 1950's on) will have finish over the label, so you are safer. Also keep in mind that the Magic Eraser will bring up the 'Willie Hoppe' signature and the weight stamps - not completely, but you will lose most or all of the dark imprint and it will not be as sharp of a stamp in the wood.
  
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09-28-2018, 01:07 PM

Thanks.

I remember your work on the Palmer. Really nice.

I may at some pint do some light work on this.

In the mean time, I will let it be.

You can see in the first picture there is a little bit of a dark area between the points. It's not really a scuff...not black. Just dark. I may try to clean that at some point.

There are no decals on the cue and I think there never were.

There is a weight stamp in the dark wood but no Hoppe signatures or anything like that to work on.

I actually do thing it is a good candidate for a very light cleaning.

But for the moment I won't touch it. I may never.


Thanks so much.
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09-28-2018, 01:10 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chopdoc View Post
My help? What did I do?

Most of the time I feel like an amateur fumbling in the dark. Honestly, I have been impressed with your efforts.

Tell me...what would you do with this?




I have it posted in the gallery. It is one of my greater acquisitions. https://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?t=479371

The condition it spectacular, but it is "dirty". I feel it could be brightened up. Obviously, the worn down veneers on the bottom would take an expert cue maker with the proper veneers. But what about just cleaning it up?

Was this originally a shellac? It's a very early 26 1/2 Trophy cue I think. Too early for a varnish I think.

.
I would send it to Measureman.


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