A Visit to Pipe Repair Specialist Howard Schulte's Shop

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newbroom

Preferred Member
Jul 11, 2014
5,493
3
Hopefully this will just be a 'teaser' and I can get another visit with Howard before I leave the Vero Beach area that includes pictures.

Yesterday, I contacted Mr. Schulte via email and left my cell #. He called back within the hour and said he'd be in his shop for another couple of hours and I decided to head on over to meet him and perhaps leave a pipe with him for repair.

When I arrived, I remembered that he'd asked me to call first, so I 'dialed' his # from my cell phone keypad and waited. His answer machine picked up, and through the reflective glass window of his shop, I could see Howard, hard at work toward the back end of his workspace.

There was no doorbell on his storefront door, and of course, it was locked. Howard is primarily a mail order repair service who does not have a lot of 'walk in' business.

I tapped on the large tempered glass window trying to get his attention. I knocked on the aluminum frame of his storefront door to no avail.

I remembered I had some tools in the trunk of my car, and got out a small (16oz.) claw hammer and with that, I tapped on the metal sheathing of the commercial building that houses his shop and several other businesses in a row.

You cannot see through the glass of his westward facing storefront, because it is reflective glazing and I was about to use the hammer again when the door opened and there I stood with hammer in hand and, luckily, pipe in maw, so that Howard quickly realized I wasn't threatening him.

He was immediately receptive and invited me back into his shop, past years of accumulated tools, parts, bins of stems, lathes, buffing wheels, drill presses, and belt sanders. I couldn't take it all in as I proceeded to the rear of his shop where he waved at a bench that held a 'batch' of his current workload. He had maybe 30 or 40 pipes of all descriptions in a divided box on a bench behind another row of sanding/buffing wheels and told me he was in the process of finishing these pipes which all had had new stems put in/on and he was apparently matching the diameters to their shanks at this stage.

I showed him my Breebia RokRoot pipe and told him the story of how I thought it had become cracked in its mortise area when I knocked it off my pipe rack.

Howard, who is 74 yrs old, and has been doing pipe repair work since he was 16, pulled the stem of my pipe and peered into the mortise, confirming the crack.

As we talked he explained that he'd remove some of the external wood to allow for emplacement of a 'repair band' and the discussion was derailed into one about our health, our histories, and the fact that Howard hasn't smoked a pipe in about 30 years.

It was when he quit that his own health problems began. Oh the irony. Let me just say that despite having to live with a rather serious health issue, that Howard is a vibrant and engaging fellow who shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, his outlook is that he's probably got another good 20 years of pipe repairing because of the genetic history of longevity he boasts.

All the while we were chatting up a storm, Howard was doing his 'thing' and moving from one work station to another as he proceeded to install a nickel support band onto the stem of my carved Italian briar pipe.

It was fascinating to see how smoothly and efficiently he worked, and before I knew it, he handed the pipe to me, with a perfectly fitting mortise and tenon connection that he'd fine tuned after installing the band.

The band itself was installed to match the diameter of the stem, so that he'd removed enough of the outside wood to use the proper sized band for the job.

The band, once installed caused the mortise to close appreciably enough that the tenon was actually too tight to be practical, which was a scenario that had been expected. There was another tool employed to almost imperceptibly increase the inside diameter of the mortise with a lathe and bit, the bit the likes of none I'd ever seen. It was more like a 'tap' if you're familiar with the thread cutting tool used in metal work.

I knew that Howard was a busy man, and wanted to get out of his 'hair' so that he could finish the work he had intended to complete. He was going in again today, Sunday, for a few hours, I think so that he could finish all thes pipes and get them ready to mail to their respective owners. Surely each did not have a unique address, or the mailing alone would take an appreciable chunk of his time.

I had another pipe with me that had a screw in stem that had become past its horizontal finish point. Howard pulled a thin spacer from one of his many drawers of pipe repair parts and put it onto my LHS Author and screwed it back up and it was perfectly aligned.

My visit was all too brief and our conversation seemed incomplete. I hope to get back and hang out with Howard before I leave the area. I want to get a camera, too, and get pics of his shop to share here, if he's so disposed to allow that.

If you look up Mr Schulte's name in Pipedia, you'll find it in a list of professional pipe repair folks on the page for Pipe care/cleaning.

http://pipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_care/cleaning

Schulte's Pipe Repair is the best around! They are the only authorized repair shop in the U.S. for Dunhill pipes. Contact Howard Schulte at (772) 564-0079. 678 Old Dixie Highway, Vero Beach, Florida 32962. All work is done by mail order, but call first. Your pipe will be like new!

 

dustmite

Member
Mar 5, 2015
263
0
Very cool! I enjoy watching someone who is good at what they do. It turns even the most mundane into a dance of sorts. I hope you can get some pictures.

 

ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
14,084
65
Maryland
Its good to take advantage of those kind of opportunities, they certainly aren't prevalent these days. If I ever make it to Vero Beach, I'll do the same!

 

dmcmtk

Preferred Member
Aug 23, 2013
2,889
9
Newbroom, that's a great story! Hopefully you can get some pictures, a lot of history associated with the Schulte name.
http://pipedia.org/wiki/Schulte

 

allan

Preferred Member
Dec 5, 2012
2,429
0
Bronx, NY
@Newbroom
Great story.
There is nothing like watching a master do his thing, whether it's pipe repair or a butcher slicing up meat. Their hands move in such co-ordination making the tasks look so deceptively simple.
Thanks for posting.

 

philobeddoe

Preferred Member
Oct 31, 2011
4,506
11
East Indiana
Newbroom,

Thank you for your report. It seems to me that skilled repairmen (of all trades) are fewer and fewer each passing year, our society has become reliant on throwaway technology and very few things besides motor vehicles and appliances/electronics are repaired on a regular basis. Most objects are discarded by their original owner when they become inoperable due to normal useage. Wheras we used to repair objects and get many more years of use, either by the original owner or by a second or even third owner. This is not a rant about how much better it was in the "good old days", I'm simply stating that there used to be loads of skilled repairmen in this country and that we really should value the skills and knowledge of the ones that remain.

 

shikano53

Preferred Member
May 26, 2015
1,417
0
Newbroom,

Great write up and story. If you get an opportunity to visit with him again I hope you get permission to take a few pictures.

Awesome! :clap:

 

jkrug

Preferred Member
Jan 23, 2015
2,872
0
That's a great write up. Sounds like a pretty cool place to visit. I have this comical image in my head of you standing there with a hammer in your hand when he answered the door. Priceless. :D

 

lraisch

Member
Jul 4, 2011
101
0
I met Mr. Shulte many years ago in his father's shop in New Jersey. I have never seen a place with more pipes! There must have been thousands in drawers and boxes behind display racks holding even more. The higher grade of pipes they made were (are) exceptional smokers. I have three which are among the best of the 90 some pipes I own. I'm glad to hear that Howard is still going strong!

 

newbroom

Preferred Member
Jul 11, 2014
5,493
3
I have this comical image in my head of you standing there with a hammer in your hand when he answered the door. Priceless. [:D]
I met Mr. Shulte many years ago in his father's shop in New Jersey. I'm glad to hear that Howard is still going strong!
That image of me at the door with hammer in hand is likely exactly as it played out. I will savor that moment forever. Howard glanced down at my hand, and back to my face with only a flitting expression of all the things you might imagine travel through your head if you were in the same situation, and read my good intentions immediately.

There was humor communicated between us that was both instant and unspoken. We had an understanding.

And, yes, Iraisch, I'm happy to say that despite having lived a life with special medical challenges, Howard is a vibrant and strong individual who toils at a craft he obviously enjoys. I will make an effort to get back over there this week if I find a camera that speaks to me before I leave town. (I've got camera issues)