Taking a Breather and Refreshing a Beautiful Brebbia Twin 2


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother picked up this nice rusticated Brebbia Twin 2 because of the beautiful cobalt blue stem. It is a twin in that it can be smoked as a Churchwarden with the long stem or by simply removing the lower part of the stem it can be smoked as a regular length bent pipe. The rustication is very tactile and rugged looking – similar to the Brebbia Lido finish. The mixture of dark black and brown stains gives the bowl an interesting contrast finish. The top of the rim is beveled inward and is smooth. It also has the same brown stain as the shank end and underside. It is a great contrast to the surround black rustication of the bowl and shank. The end of the shank is smooth and rounded while the smooth panel on the underside of the stem is stamped with the pipes identification. In this case it reads Italy, Brebbia Twin 2. The long insert portion of the stem is made out of cobalt blue acrylic and has a small multi-coloured brown acrylic ring attached to the end. The extension has a Delrin tenon that holds it in the shank. The second part of the stem has a briar ring attached to the end of the stem and also a Delrin tenon. The left side of the stem has the Brebbia gold diamond shaped logo stamped in it. All of the parts work well together and give the pipe an elegant look. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up and sent it to me. The next photos show the pipe taken apart and also in its shortened version. You can see the Delrin tenons on both the extension and the stem itself. The gentle curves of the stem and the shank is really nice even in the shorter version of the pipe. Jeff took close up photos of the rim top and bowl to show how clean the pipe was when he received it. The second photo below shows a side view of the rustication of the bowl. It is a really beautiful pipe.The rich cobalt blue stem and extension are one of my favourite parts of this pipe. The colours of the bowl, rim, shank end, acrylic spacer and briar spacer work really well together with the blue of the stem material.The next two photos show the Brebbia Twin 2 stamping and the Brebbia logo on the left side of the stem portion. Both are very clean and readable.The stem was very clean in terms of tooth marks or chatter. There was some debris in the crease of the button that would need to be cleaned out but otherwise it was in very good condition.Before I did my part of the work on the pipe I decided to do a bit of background reading on the brand just to refresh my knowledge about Brebbia. I figured a quick read on Pipedia and on the Pipephil Logos and Stampings site would give me sufficient information. I turned to Pipedia first and there found some company history summarised. I quote in full from that article (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Brebbia).

Pipe Brebbia Srl, or better the M.P.B. (Manifattura Pipe Brebbia) was born in 1953 from the denouement of the association between Achille Savinelli and Enea Buzzi in 1947, where the first was employed in the marketing and the second in manufacturing of pipes under the name of Savinelli. It was made in exclusive up to 1953 and extended without further rights up to 1956.

The production, which is always careful and perfect, has continued in a traditional way for 60 years, using old lathes for the first steps, but finishing every piece by hand.

The secret of their manufacture, if we may put it this way, is the respect for the traditions with the experience acquired in several years of successful work, which could be summed up in two words: high quality.

The factory is currently managed by Enea’s son, Luciano.

For the last few decades, many of Brebbia’s pipes have been made by a number of small, otherwise independent pipe manufacturers, being marketed under the trade name Brebbia.

I then turned to the Pipephil site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-brebbia.html) and found confirmation of the above information.

The Brebbia brand Brebbia Pipe is named after the locality of Bosco Grosso di Brebbia (Prov. Varese, Reg. Lombardia). A first corporate was founded by Enea Buzzi and Achille Savinelli in 1947. They split in 1953. Buzzi ketp the factory and created the MPB brand (Maniffatura Pipe Brebbia). After 1968 the brand was shortly called “Brebbia”. Luciano Buzzi son of Enea manages the company since the 1990s.

Jeff did not have to do a whole lot of cleaning on this pipe as it was pretty spotless. He ran pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol through the mortise and the airways in the shank, extension and stem. He cleaned around the button edge to remove the debris. He wiped down the rim top and the inside of the bowl to remove dust and gave the pipe a general once over to remove any dust or debris from shipping. When I received the pipe I took photos of it to show its general condition. It is in great shape which is why I took a breather and worked on refreshing it before doing some of the more grimy pipes that are on my work table. I took some close up photos of the bowl, rim top and stem to show its general condition. It was in pretty good shape. A little polishing and buffing would bring it to its full potential.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the deep rusticated surface of the briar with my finger tips to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the wood. I used a horse hair shoe brush to make sure that the balm went deep into the grooves and valleys of the rustication. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The wood came alive and there was a rich shine to the briar. The smooth rim top, shank end and underside looked rich as well. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The stem and extension were in such good condition that I only worked them over with micromesh sanding pads. I polished the cobalt blue acrylic – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with a damp cotton pad after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I wiped it down a final time and hand buffed it with a cloth. I finished by polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish Fine and Extra Fine. I buffed stem and extension with Blue Diamond to polish them. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem and extension multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The briar has a shine and a rich glow to it and the cobalt blue acrylic stem came out quite nice with a deep shine. The pipe really looks quite amazing. The dimensions on the pipe are; Length with extension: 10 inches, Length with just stem: 6 ½ inches, Bowl Height: 2 inches, Bowl Outer Diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ inches. This will be a hard one to let go of but watch the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Send me an email to slaug@uniserve.com or a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

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Restoring Mark’s Uncle’s Third Pipe – A Kaywoodie Super Grain S-L Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

One of the things I really like about restoring pipes is the opportunity to get to know the back story behind the pipes. I like knowing the journey they have traveled and if the opportunity presents itself the pipeman who held them in trust for the years of his own travels. When Mark sent me his uncle’s seven pipes I had no idea of the back story but I liked the idea of being able to enter into the ongoing story of the pipe.  After I finished the Ropp Cherrywood De Luxe (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/17/cleaning-and-restoring-a-ropp-cherrywood-de-luxe-805/) and the Doodler (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/19/restoring-a-beautiful-the-doodler-bullmoose/) and posted them on the blog Mark sent me an email about the backstory. To me it adds a lot of flavour to the work I am doing on the pipes. As I ream and clean them bringing them back to a fresh look I often think of the pipeman who had used the pipe daily as a part of his life. With this lot now I had the story.Mark’s Uncle’s pipe were worn a bit and the Kaywoodies had stem damage but the pipes were relatively clean – the bowls did not have a thick cake and the rim tops though caked with lava were decent. You can tell from the photos which pipes were his favourites.Mark sent me the following email giving me some back story on this set of pipes. I love hearing the story behind the pipes I work on. Here is what he wrote:

Hello Steve,

You must wonder about the history of the pipes you work on, so I thought might like to know a little about my uncle and his pipes:

My Uncle John, raised in an Appalachian Mountain family (think Hatfield and McCoy), was a large man with an affable personality – although this had limits and he could be quite formidable.

During WWII he left home and enlisted in the US Army where he was assigned to Patton’s 3rd Army as an ambulance driver.  After Germany surrendered, he was transported back to the US on a converted ocean liner troop ship (I believe it was the Queen Mary).  Upon reaching the US, his unit was immediately sequestered on a troop train for transport to the West Coast to be shipped to the Pacific for the invasion of Japan.  About half way across the country (possibly somewhere in Texas), the train stopped and the troops informed that Japan had capitulated – WWII was over.

Before the Korean War began, my uncle re-enlisted in the US Air Force.  He as assigned to a Photo Mapping unit as an Aircraft Mechanic.  He worked his way up to Crew Chief and served in Photo Mapping until he medically retired in the mid 60’s due to heart problems.

Being part of an Air Force family, I did not get to spend much time with my uncle while growing up.  However, I was able to stay a couple of summers with him at his West Palm Beach home while in my teens.  On a desk in his Florida Room sat collection of old used pipes in a walnut pipe rack / humidor combo (very similar the Decatur Industries 6 pipe Rack and humidor combination shown in the rebornpipes store).  There were a couple of packages of old dried up commercial brand tobacco in the humidor – one was cherry, I think.  I never saw my uncle smoke and never discussed the pipes with him, but I was intrigued by the pipe collection.  They were old, dirty, and well used – some with chewed through stems.  Obviously, the pipes had been smoked by a devoted pipe enthusiast.  As a young boy, I loved the smell of pipe tobacco, which you could occasionally smell in public way back then.  I started smoking an occasional pipe in college.  When my uncle passed away a few years later, I asked for his pipe collection and have stored it away since then.  The pipes are just as I received them some thirty years ago.

While I will never know for sure, I believe my uncle purchased the pipes in various PX’s and smoked them while an Air Crew Member.  The PX’s would have sold common commercially available pipe brands at a good price, nothing too expensive or exotic – consistent with the pipes in my uncle’s collection.  As a Photo Mapping Air Crew Member / Chief my uncle traveled the world extensively, and was stationed at many bases  – including “permanent” stations in West Palm Beach, Warner Robins, and Goose Bay Labrador, to name a few.  Smoking a pipe would have been a relaxing way to spend a few monotonous hours on the flight line or in the air.  After his heart problems, he must have given up pipe smoking and the pipes sat unused thereafter.  If the bowls look like they were recently scraped, it would have been over fifty years ago, most likely with a Case hardware store folding knife. If dirty, it is due to sitting for many years in the back room.  If well used and chewed it is due to many hours of smoking enjoyment.

I’m looking forward to seeing my Uncle John’s pipes in restored condition.  I know they are not “collectors” items, but they bring back priceless memories of my uncle and the times we spent together sharing “war stories”.

Your pictures and stories of the Doodler and Ropp are great, keep up the good work.  Feel free to edit and use any of my uncle’s write up on your blog if you wish. – Mark

Armed with that information I had a better view of the pipeman who had once owned these pipes. That information always makes the restoration more personal and more interesting for me. I turned my attention to the third of Mark’s uncle’s pipes – a Kaywoodie Super Grain S-L rusticated billiard. The finish looked a lot like the classic Kaywoodie take on Tracy Mincer’s Custom-Bilt pipes. The pipe was stamped Kaywoodie ® over Super Grain S-L on the smooth, flat underside of the shank. There was a dust and grime deep in the grooves of the rustication. The rim top was clean and uncaked with lava. The bowl had a light cake around the walls but nothing heavy. There was some darkening on the rim along the inner edge on the back side of the bowl. Overall the finish was in really good condition but it was a dirty pipe. The stem was completely overturned in the shank to the point that Kaywoodie club logo was on the opposite side of the stem and upside down. The stem was oxidized and there was tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides near the button. The stinger in the shank was a three hole one and it was coated in tars and oils. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the lack of lava build up and the light cake in the bowl. Mark’s uncle had kept the pipe relatively clean in terms of the cake. It appeared that the bowl had been reamed not too long ago. There were some remnants of the tobacco in the bowl. The rusticated rim top had some debris in the grooves of the finish. The edges of the rim looked to be in good condition. I took some close up photos of the stem to show the condition of both sides. The stem was oxidized and showed tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides near the button.I added this stem to the other three stems that I put in the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. I pushed them under the solution and left them to soak overnight.While the stems were all soaking I turned my attention to the bowl. I scrubbed the Custom-Bilt like grooves and rustication on the rim top with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and dirt on the bowl. I rinsed it off with running water and dried the bowl and shank off with a soft cotton towel. I took photos of the cleaned bowl to show what it looked like at this point in the process. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape away the remaining cake and debris in the bowl of the pipe.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the wood. I used a cotton swab to work the balm into the grooves in the rustication on the rim top and bowl sides. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The wood came alive and the grain had begun to show through at this point and there was a rich shine to the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and called it a night. The bowl was ready other than touching up the cleaning of the shank. In the morning I removed the stem from the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer and wiped it off with a paper towel to remove the remaining oxidation and bath. I cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol until it was clean. I cleaned out the shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs at the same time to remove any debris that remained inside. The stem was clean and there was still some oxidation on the surface with some scratching, tooth chatter and marks. It was ready to be sanded and polished. I heated the stinger with a lighter and turned it into the shank to correct the overturn. With a little heat the glue loosens in the stem and it can be carefully turned to align. When it cooled I removed the stem from the shank and painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth dents in the stem. I was able to lift all of them on both sides. It would not take too much sanding to smooth out the remnants of the dents and blend them into the surface. I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper.The edge of the button was damaged on both sides of the stem. I filled in the damaged areas with clear super glue. Once it cured I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and needle files to shape it. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. Once it had dried, I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish Fine and Extra Fine. I rubbed it down with final coat Obsidian Oil and took the following pictures. At this point in the process, the camera had revealed more oxidation at the shank end of the stem and some scratching near the button. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with Red Tripoli and Blue Diamond until the oxidation was gone. I also worked on the stubborn scratches on the button end of the stem to remove those. When I finished that I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish Fine and Extra Fine. I rubbed it down with final coat Obsidian Oil and took a photo.I put the stem back on the bowl and took the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish them. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The briar has a shine and a rich glow to it and the vulcanite stem came out quite nice with a deep shine. The pipe came out really well. I have four more of the uncle’s pipes to finish up and then these will be heading back to the US. Thanks for looking.

Breathing New Life into an Italian Made ¼ Bent Acorn


Blog by Steve Laug

When Mark sent me his uncle’s pipes for restoration he also put in several of his own pipes. This is the first of those. It is a ¼ bent rusticated acorn shaped pipe. The only marking on the pipe was the stamping Italy at the stem/shank junction on the underside of the pipe. There was a lot of dust and grime deep in the grooves of the rustication. There was a smooth band around the end of the shank and on the underside. Overall the finish was in decent condition but it was a very dirty pipe. The stem was oxidized – more on the topside than the underside. The tooth chatter was light and the tooth marks were even lighter. This pipe reminded me of one that I restemmed not long ago with the same finish and stamping. It has a great ruff finish that feels great in the hand (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/10/22/this-old-italian-canadian-showed-promise/). I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the lava build up and the light cake in the bowl. Mark kept the pipe relatively clean in terms of the cake. It appeared that the bowl had been reamed not too long ago. There were some remnants of the cake in the bowl. The rusticated rim top had some lava deep in the grooves of the finish. The edges of the rim looked to be in good condition. I took some close up photos of the stem to show the condition of both sides. The stem was oxidized and showed tooth chatter and light tooth marks on both sides near the button.I added this stem to the other three stems that I put in the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. I pushed them under the solution and left them to soak overnight.While the stems were all soaking I turned my attention to the bowl. I scrubbed the grooves and rustication on the rim top with a brass bristle brush to break up the tars and lava. I followed that by cleaning the surface of the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime that sat on the surface. I scrubbed the surface with a tooth brush and rinsed it off with running water. I dried the bowl and shank off with a soft cotton towel. I took photos of the cleaned Italian pipe with the sea rock finish. It actually looked really good. The rim top still needed work but it looked better. I cleaned up the inside of the bowl to remove the remaining bits of cake on the walls and the bottom of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the wood. I used a cotton swab to work the balm into the grooves in the rustication. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The wood came alive and the grain had begun to show through at this point and there was a rich shine to the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and called it a night. The bowl was ready other than touching up the cleaning of the shank. In the morning I removed the stem from the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer and wiped it off with a paper towel to remove the remaining oxidation and bath. I cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol until it was clean. I cleaned out the shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs at the same time to remove any debris that remained inside. The stem was clean and there was still some oxidation on the surface with some scratching, tooth chatter and marks. It was ready to be sanded and polished.  I sanded the stem to remove the scratching and tooth chatter. I heated the stem with a Bic lighter to lift the light tooth marks. The heat smoothed out the surface enough that I was able to sand out the rest of the remnants of the marks.I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. Once it had dried, I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish Fine and Extra Fine. I rubbed it down with final coat Obsidian Oil and took the following pictures. I put the stem back on the bowl and took the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish them. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The briar has a shine and a rich glow to it and the vulcanite stem came out quite nice with a deep shine. The pipe came out really well. Now I have four more of the uncle’s pipes to finish up and then these will be heading back to the US. Thanks for looking.

Introducing the House of Robertson Brand – A Large Rusticated Special Horn


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff found an assortment of House of Robertson pipes at an auction in Wilder, Idaho which is an area in the greater Boise, Idaho area. He picked them up for us to restore. I had forgotten that I had mentioned the brand in passing in a blog on Leonard’s Pipe Shop in Portland, Oregon. Here is the link to that blog where I mention it as one of the brands that Leonard’s sold: https://rebornpipes.com/2013/06/06/leonards-pipe-shop-portland-oregon/. It is a fascinating brand that really I had never had the privilege of seeing first hand. He cleaned them all up and on a recent trip to Idaho, I picked them up and brought them back to Canada. I took pictures of the lot of them to show the wide variety of pipes that they made in terms of both size and style. The craftsmanship is very good with the fit of the stem and shank well done and the finish both rusticated and smooth exemplary. Jeff picked up three more of the brand in Pocatello, Idaho so I will be working on more of these pipes in the future. They all have the name House of Robertson roughly hand etched on the side or underside of the shank with an engraving tool. I did a bit of hunting for information about the brand and found a link on Pipedia that gave me the only information I could find on the brand. I include that in total as it is interesting to read.

“House of Robertson” was in business for many years, but alas, closed their doors in 1999. They were located in Boise, Idaho. They are noted for making rather large and interesting pipes. Thayne Robertson was a Master Mason, AF & AM, and started the shop about 1947 and his son Jon started working there in 1970 when he finished college, along with Thayne’s daughter. Thayne and his son started making the big pipes at that time, and made them together until 1987 when Thayne passed away. Jon kept the store and his sister moved on to other things. The House of Robertson appears to have closed around 1999. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Robertson

The first of the six pipes I chose to work on was the large horn shaped rusticated pipe. It is stamped House of Robertson on a smooth panel on the left side of the shank and Special on a smooth part on the underside of the shank next to the stem/shank junction. The rusticated finish on the pipe was in good shape – just dusty and dirty. The deep grooves in the rustication were very dirty. The smooth rim top had some darkening where it had been repeatedly heated with a lighter. The bowl had a thin cake but it did not go all the way to the bottom of the bowl. The pipe is quite large but very light weight for the chunk of briar that was used. The stem was oxidized but did not have tooth marks or chatter on the surface. The fit of the stem to the shank was good. The vulcanite appeared to have been a pre-formed stem that was shaped to fit this pipe. The internals of the shank and stem had some tars and oils. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup. The next close-up photos show the finish on various sides of the bowl. The first photo shows that the bowl had a thin cake and a darkened spot on the left side of the rim top where the previous owner had repeatedly lit the pipe. The inner edge of the rim had a few small nicks along the edges and there was some darkening on the back inner edge. The finish on the rim top was in great condition. The three photos that follow the rim view show the pipe from different angles. The next two photos show the etched name on the left side of shank on a smooth panel of briar. It reads House of Robertson. On the underside of the shank is etched the name Special – also on a smooth panel of briar. The stem was oxidized and pitted from the oxidation. There were no tooth marks on the stem top or underside. There was one small nick on the stem at the joint of the stem and the shank on the underside. I wonder if it did not happen when the word Special was etched on the shank. Probably I will never know but it is interesting.Jeff out did himself on the cleanup of this pipe. He reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the thin cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. When he had finished, the bowl looks almost new on the inside (I actually don’t think it has ever been smoked to the bottom of the bowl as it is raw briar in the bottom third).  He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The light lava mess on the rim and the dust deep in the rustication was thoroughly removed without harming the finish underneath it. Once the grime was removed the finish actually looked to be in excellent condition I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took a photo of the rim top to show the great condition it was in after the cleanup. Jeff was able to remove all of the darkening and tar on the right side of the rim top and the back edge of the rim. The stem was clean but pitted and oxidized.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the nooks and crannies of the rusticated finish, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl on the wheel with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. It really began to have a deep shine in the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation on both sides and in the angles of the saddle stem.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to lightly polish the bowl and shank. I buffed the bowl with a light touch so as not to get any of the buffing compounds in the grooves of the rustication. I buffed the stem to raise the gloss on the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The medium brown stains on the rusticated horn shaped bowl works well with the rich black of the short vulcanite stem. The polish and the reworking of the stem material left this a beautiful and well-made pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside Diameter: 1 3/4 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inch. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS – Is this pipe repairable?


Blog by Steve Laug

In this next installment of the Answers to Questions blogs, I want to address a question that comes to me via email, the contact button on the blog or through Facebook. I receive photos and descriptions of pipes in a variety of conditions asking if I think the pipe is repairable. I have learned over time that the question has a variety of possible answers. I think that questioner thinks it will be a yes or no question. Really, I suppose that is what they want to hear. Yes I think it can be repaired or No, it cannot be repaired. Often when I answer yes, they want me to do the work, and sometimes when I answer, no they want to send it me to “dispose” of properly. But really the question is not a yes or no question. Every pipe gives multiple options for how to proceed.

I think the right question to ask is, “How badly do you want to keep this pipe?” or “How much work are you willing to put into this pipe?” These questions determine what a person will do and what lengths they will go to in order to keep or return the pipe to smokable condition. If the question is merely a simple yes or no then many pipes will end up in the tinderbox destined for the fire. However, if the question is as I have spelled it out above then the answer will lead to the next steps of restoration. Let’s talk about some of the pipes that have come across my desk or my email address that can illustrate this variation on the question.

A Beautiful older Peterson 999 with a huge burned out hole in the lower left side of the bowl. Many would have simply said good-bye to this old friend because you could put your index finger through the side of the bowl. It appeared to be a goner. When I looked at it I remembered an old Blatter and Blatter pipe that I had picked up on eBay that had a burn out on the back side of the bowl. I had talked to the shop in Montreal and they had me send it back to them. They drilled out the burned out area until they had solid briar. Then they cut a chunk of new briar and fit it into the drilled out hole. They glued it in place and once it had set, they rusticated the patch to match the rest of the bowl. They gave the inside of the bowl a bowl coating to protect it until a cake had formed and sent it back to me. I have had that pipe for over 20 years now and it is still going strong. You would be hard pressed to find the repaired area.

With that living memory I said yes to the burned out Peterson. In days past, I would have walked away and left it for firewood but I had learned. I drilled out the burned out area with a drill bit until the surrounding briar was solid. I cut a plug from a piece of briar and adjusted it to fit into the hole. I glued it in place and rusticated the area around the plug and lower part of the bowl until it blended in well. I stained the lower half of the bowl with a dark brown stain and the upper half with a medium brown stain. The finished exterior looked very good. I coated the inside of the bowl with bowl coating to protect it. The fellow still smokes the pipe I believe and the repair has held up well. Here is the link to the blog: https://rebornpipes.com/2014/02/06/plugging-a-burnout-on-a-petersons-irish-whiskey-999/

You can see from that example that a simple yes or no question would have probably sacrificed what turned out to be a repairable bowl. The question was whether I wanted to take the time and invest the work to make it smokable again. In this case the invested work was worth the results in my opinion.

An Ardor Urano Fancy with a ½ inch deep chunk broken out of the right side edge of the rim. This is one that caught my eye on Ebay. Many would have simply passed it up and said it was not worth repairing. The large broken out chunk of briar from the back right side of the bowl near the top and the general wear and tear on the bowl would have easily made it a pass. But to me something about the rugged rustication and the blue of the shank end and stem just caught my eye and made me want to give it a try. So I put in the only bid on the pipe – no surprise there and picked it up for a decent price. This was a pipe that would go in my collection and not be sold and it was a pipe that would provide more schooling for me in the art of pipe repair.

I had it shipped to Idaho and my brother cleaned it up for me. When it finally came to Canada I was excited to see what could be done with it. I cleaned out the damaged area with alcohol and cotton swabs until the surface was clear. I smoothed out the edges of the break to make fitting a new piece of briar a little easier. I cut a piece of briar from the side of one of my sacrificial briar bowls that I keep just for this purpose. I shaped the piece of briar with my Dremel and a sanding drum until I had it close to fitting. I used the Dremel to give the inner edge a bit of a curve that would match the wall of the pipe around it. Once I was close I used a file and 80 grit sandpaper to bring to the size that I could press it into the damaged area. I coated the edges with epoxy and pressed the chunk in place. I filled in around the patch with clear super glue to ensure that the seal was tight. I set it aside to cure.

The next day I used the Dremel with various burrs to rusticate the repaired area to match the surround bowl sides. There was an uneven smooth area around the rim top so I left that smooth on the repair as well. Once the rustication was complete and I was satisfied with the match I washed the area down with a cotton pad and alcohol. I mixed a batch of JB Weld and coated the wall of the repaired area. Once it dried I used the Dremel and sanding drum to carefully smooth out the inside of the bowl. I gave it a thick coat of pipe mud and let it dry. I stained it with a dark brown aniline stain and washed it lightly with alcohol to blend it in. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I have had the pipe now for almost a year and it smokes really well and looks pretty good for a repair. Here is a link to the full blog: (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/02/26/with-just-a-little-work-i-now-have-a-dr-ardor-urano-fantasy-apple/) The next three examples show very different repairs and issues with old pipes that I have dealt with. I decided to use two of them as examples in this blog. https://rebornpipes.com/2016/09/03/what-to-do-with-a-cracked-bowl-options-for-their-repair/. The first was cut off and the job was done very poorly. It had originally been a GBD 9438 in a previous life and someone had cut off the entire top half of the bowl. They had restained the bowl but had not sanded it so there were saw marks and file marks and a very rough look to the pipe. This is another pipe that could easily have been relegated to the dust bin. My brother Jeff picked it up in a bunch of pipe from a fellow on Ebay who called himself a refurbisher. This pipe came as one that had been restored. It had a lot of problems. Not only had he cut the bowl off he had also used a Dremel and took it straight down the bowl leaving a mess in the bottom of the bowl. I figured that maybe there was something redeemable in the pipe. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reshape the top and round it over giving some form to the damaged bowl. I decided to round it over leaving a rounded top edge to the rim. It took a lot of sanding and shaping but I think in the end I had a smokable pipe with a bit of charm that previously had been severely lacking. You be the judge. Was it worth the effort to do the work on the bowl?

The second pipe in the lot was an Alpha freehand rusticated shape that someone had done the same hack job to the bowl was very short and held a mere thimble full of tobacco. It had thick walls on the portion of the bowl that was left so I decided to experiment. If the experiment did not work there would be no loss. I had a bowl with the shank missing and damage to the bottom side that could easily be salvaged and the two parts connected to make a new pipe. I cut off the damaged (cracked) bottom of the sacrificial bowl in preparation for the new union. I drill small holes in the top of the bowl and the base that matched each other and cut some stainless pins that would join the two parts. I glued the pins in the base and coated the surface of each part with epoxy and pressed them together until the surfaces joined. I filled in the gaps and crevices joining the two bowls with briar dust and super glue. Once everything had set I reshaped the bowl so that the joint was less visible and then rusticated the new top half to match the base. I coated the inside of the bowl sealing the area where they joined with JB Weld and when dry sanded it out with my Dremel leaving the JB Weld only in the joint. I coated the bowl with a bowl coating of sour cream and charcoal powder. I restained the bowl with a dark brown stain. Once the pipe was finished I had an interesting chimney pipe that would give many more years of service. Was this worth it? To me it was worth the education for me. GBD Made Square Shank Poor Richards Pipe Shop with a lot of cracks around the bowl. This one was a challenge that Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes Blog and I took on together. We were experimenting with the question, “When was a pipe no longer redeemable.” https://rebornpipes.com/2016/03/06/a-humpty-dumpty-cross-canada-project-could-this-poor-richards-select-square-shank-billiard-9489-ever-be-whole-again/. The pipe was one my brother had picked up that was stemless. The bowl was a mess with cracks on all sides of the bowl. Charles and I had been chatting on Skype about repairing pipes and I told him about it and we decided to make it a joint effort. Charles was experimenting with using rods to stitch a cracked bowl back together again and this was just the one to do that on. He drilled angled holes on each side of the crack and pushed a rod through. The angles of each set of holes was drilled in opposition to the previous one so that it acted to pull the crack together. The next series of photos show the process of stitching the bowl together, filling in the holes and refinishing the bowl. Putting the shank back on a broken LHS Park Lane DeLuxe — Lovat 12. The next one was a fun pipe to work on. It was one that I would have thrown in the bin for parts in the past. The shank was completely broken off leaving a short section on the bowl. I liked the look of the Cumberland stem and the Lovat is one of my favourite shapes so I figured it was worth a try. You can read the details on the blog here: https://rebornpipes.com/2015/09/29/repairing-a-broken-shank-on-an-lhs-park-lane-de-luxe-lovat-12/ I cleaned up the broken ends of the shank and bowl and used a brass tube to insert, glue and bind the two parts together. I filled in the gaps in the crack with clear super glue and briar dust to make things smooth. The crack virtually disappeared into the grain once I stained the pipe with a dark brown stain. The finished pipe is shown in the last two photos. The repair has held up for several years now without any sign of the joint failing. Crafting a Frankenpipe from a cut off Brebbia Lido Bowl and a piece of bamboo. The next example is a Brebbia Lido that my brother picked up on one of his trips. Someone had glued a stem in the shank and the shank itself had been cut off crooked so the entire pipe curved toward the right. The short shank also did not work well with the stem that had been put on the bowl. We removed the stem during the cleanup process and cleaned off the glue and crud in the shank. It looked like another broken pipe but I thought that the shank had enough length that a piece of shank could be added. I checked out the look with a piece of briar, acrylic and bamboo. The bamboo worked for me the best. I used a topping board to square up the shank end on the Lido and both ends of the piece of bamboo. When I put the two together the junction was smooth and tight. I joined the bamboo to the shank of the pipe using a piece of Delrin tenon that I glued into the shank first and then into the bamboo. I filled in the small gaps around the joint with super glue to seal it tight. Once it had cured, I glued a drilled out acrylic button on the end of the bamboo to keep it from fraying or splitting when the stem was in put in and taken out repeatedly. The longer stem worked well with the rustication and the bamboo the contrast of finishes and colours made the pipe a beautiful addition to my rack. What had been a throwaway was rescued and given a new look. It is now a pipe that I enjoy smoking. If you wish to read more about the process, I have included the link to the blog on the restoration of the pipe. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/10/09/another-frankenpipe-salvaging-a-lido-root-briar-dublin-bowl/

Crafting another Frankenpipe from a broken shanked apple, a piece of briar and a metal tube. The final example is another broken shanked apple. It was a no name pipe with a nice shape on the bowl and a jagged broken shank. I decided to take a totally different tack on this one. I had an old metal flashlight tube that had a cross hatch pattern on the metal. It was an open tube. I had a sacrificial pipe that had a long shank that I cut off and used to make this more of a Lovat style apple. I wanted a pretty indestructible pipe to use while I was working in the yard or the garden. I cut off the broken shank on the apple and topped it to square it up. I turned the other shank that I was using so that it would fit into the metal tube and allow me to use the mortise for a new shorter stem. I joined the bowl and the shank with a piece of stainless tubing. I scored the tubing and epoxied it in the bowl end first then added the shank end to it. Once it cured I used a file to step down the end of the shank on the bowl end so that the tube would fit closer to the bowl staggering the new joint and giving it more stability. I pressed the metal tube on the shank piece until the end was flush with the briar of the bowl. I filled in the gaps with clear super glue to make the transition seamless. I wanted the transition between the metal and the stem to be seamless so I stepped down the end of the stem just past the tenon to sit inside the metal tube. I restained the bowl and polished the vulcanite and the pipe was ready to smoke and it was pretty indestructible. This is yet another example of the lengths that I will go to salvage a pipe that I like or that I see promise in. Here is the link to the blog if you would like to read about the process in detail. https://rebornpipes.com/2015/02/07/pipe-resurrection-from-a-broken-shank-to-another-frankenpipe/

Looking at the various examples above of pipes that have crossed my worktable you can see how I chose to answer the question, “How badly do you want to keep this pipe?” or “How much work are you willing to put into this pipe?” In each case, my decision was that the pipe was worth saving and investing time in whether it was for the sake of repairing a beautiful old pipe or for learning new skills that I could use on other pipes that came to my desk. The decision was not quick or foolish it was made with full awareness of the extent to which I would have to go to bring the pipe back to useable condition. With that I bring this Answers to Questions blog to a close. I hope that this installment has been helpful to you. Have fun crafting what you can out of the broken pieces of the pipes that come your way. Think hard before you throw the pipe in the fire and look beyond the pieces and see if you can imagine a way to make it work. Thanks for reading.

Restoring a Beautiful ‘The Doodler” Bullmoose


Blog by Steve Laug

This blog is about the restoration of the second pipe from the lot of seven that a reader sent to me that had belonged to his uncle. He said that the pipes were in good condition in terms of the bowls (though in looking at them they were in need of a good cleaning). The finishes were in decent shape – just dirty. He said that the stems all had issues and he was right with that. Some were worn with tooth marks on the stem on both the top and underside at the button. Some had been chewed off. All were oxidized to varying degrees. He sent me the following photos of the pipes for me to have a look at and we talked back and forth via email. About a week ago or so they arrived here in Canada. He had done an amazing job packing the lot. Each one was packaged in its own baggy with the stem separated for shipping. They were nicely wrapped in bubble wrap and boxed with the return mailing address inside! Very nicely done package. I opened the box and unpacked each pipe. I went over them carefully to assess what was needed in terms of repair. I chose to work on “The Doodler” Bullmoose shaped pipe which is the sixth pipe down from the top of the first photo and on the second pipe in from the right side of the second photo. It is an interesting pipe. The Doodler was originally designed by Tracy Mincer of Custom-Bilt fame as a very cool smoking pipe. It combined the thick rustic shape of the Custom-Bilt with some unusual features. The rim has a series of vertical holes drilled down the sides of the bowl and around the rim top there is a groove. These both work together to provide a very cool smoke. Add to that the thick briar bowl and you have the promise of a cool smoking pipe.

I am including a piece of information from Pipedia about the Doodler. What I found confirms the information that I remembered. I quote in full. “After his loss of the Custom-Bilt name in 1953, Tracy Mincer’s next production pipe was The Doodler. The pipe was turned for Mincer by the National Briar Pipe Co. beginning in the early 1950’s, and that company eventually purchased the pipe design in approximately 1960. After that time Mincer’s former partner Claude Stewart began making a line of pipes called the Holeysmoke which were largely identical to the Doodler pipes, and National Briar continued to produce the Doodler. The pipe’s design centers around a series of vertically drilled holes in a ring around the combustion chamber, meant to provide airflow and a cooler smoke.” https://pipedia.org/wiki/The_Doodler

I checked the other site I turn to – Pipephil’s Pipes, Logos and Stampings to see if any additional information could be learned on the brand. It confirms the information I already had and gives some solid dates for the pipe. I quote: Tracy Mincer who founded the Custom-Bilt brand is the inventor of the famous Doodler pipe. All the pipes of this brand have vertical air shafts around the bowl crossed by horizontal rings cut into the bowl. These characteristics are supposed to increase the cooling area of the briar. After Mincer’s death in 1964 his company was sold to National Briar Pipe Co. which continued to make The Doodler until the early 1980s. During the same time Claude Stuart who worked with Mincer continued on his side to produce pipes of this type under his Holeysmoke label. http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-t4.html#thedoodler

The bowl had a light cake in it. The rim top had an overflow of lava on the inner ring of the top that had overflowed from the bowl. The left side of the shank was stamped “The Doodler” in Germanic script and often folks read it as “The Boodler”. Underneath that it is stamped Imported Briar. The rustication on the bowl was quite dirty and there was dust and debris in the deep grooves and the ring around the top of the bowl. The stem had light tooth marks and tooth chatter on the both the top and underside near the button. The stem surface was oxidized. I took the following photos before I started to clean up the pipe. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the lava build up and the light cake in the bowl. The previous pipeman kept the pipe relatively clean in terms of the cake. It appeared that the bowl had been reamed not too long ago. There were some remnants of the cake in the bowl. I took some close up photos of the stem to show the condition of both sides.This was the second of the four pipes that I chose to work on first and put the stems in the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. I pushed them under the solution and left them to soak overnight.While the stems were all soaking I turned my attention to the bowl. I scrubbed the grooves and rustication on the surface of the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime that sat on the surface. I scrubbed the surface with a tooth brush and rinsed it off with running water. I dried the bowl and shank off with a soft cotton towel. I took photos of the cleaned Doodler bowl. It actually looked really good. The rim top still needed work but it looked better. I cleaned up the inside of the bowl to remove the remaining bits of cake on the walls and the bottom of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand off the remaining thick lava on the rim top and the damaged areas as well. I worked on it to smooth out the surface and then polished it with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I cleaned up the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of sandpaper and removed the damaged areas there as well.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the wood. I used a cotton swab to work the balm into the grooves in the rustication, the ring below the bowl top and into all the drilled holes on the rim top and down the sides of the bowl. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The wood came alive and the grain had begun to show through at this point and there was a rich shine to the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and called it a night. The bowl was ready other than touching up the cleaning of the shank. In the morning I removed the stem from the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer and wiped it off with a paper towel to remove the remaining oxidation and bath. I cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol until it was clean. I cleaned out the shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs at the same time to remove any debris that remained inside. The stem was clean and there was still some oxidation on the surface with some scratching, tooth chatter and marks. It was ready to be sanded and polished. I sanded the stem to remove the scratching and tooth chatter. I heated the stem with a Bic lighter to lift the light tooth marks. The heat smoothed out the surface enough that I was able to sand out the rest of the remnants of the marks.I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. Once it had dried, I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish Fine and Extra Fine. I rubbed it down with final coat Obsidian Oil and took the following pictures. I put the stem back on the bowl and took the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish them. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The briar has a shine and a rich glow to it and the vulcanite stem came out quite nice with a deep shine. The pipe came out really well. Now I have five more of the uncle’s pipes to finish up and then these will be heading back to the US. Thanks for looking.

A Thorough Scouring and a New Tenon for a Robert Blatter Signature Select Dublin Freehand


Great work on making the new tenon on this old Blatter pipe. Well done on getting it all aligned.

DadsPipes

This large pipe came to me for refurbishment in the latest lot from a fellow piper living in Iqaluit, Nunavut. I’ve worked on quite a few pipes for him over the last year, and this particular Blatter proved to be quite a challenge.

To begin with, as you can see in the pics below, the pipe was in dire need of a good cleaning when it arrived on my worktable. The plateau rim was completely filled in with hard, crusty lava, and it looked like the bowl had never been reamed. The cake in the chamber was so thick I couldn’t identify the inner edge of the rim or the depth of the chamber.

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In addition, there was something funky going on at the stem/shank junction. The stem was obviously out on alignment with the shank, hanging over the briar on one side and stopping short on the other. The…

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