Restoring a Beautiful Danish Pipe “MELBY” Acorn


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This pipe had attracted my attention way back in 2017 when I first saw it on eBay and finally made it to me with a very small price tag, shipping included!! Subsequently as I started working on my inherited pipes under Steve’s guidance, the Barling’s, Dunhills, Peterson’s, Ben Wades, Nordings, Stanwells, Danish FH et al took center stage and the Melby got buried deeper and deeper down in the box. During his visit to India in May this year, Steve, Abha and I went through two of the three big cartons of pipes that I had inherited including a few pipes that I had purchased on eBay in earlier years. The aim of this exercise was to sort out pipes that could be sold and those that are to be added to personal collection. The Melby figured in the list of pipes “TO BE SOLD”!!

Well, after lying in wait for more than two years, the Melby has finally found its way on to my work table now.

This is a beautiful Acorn shaped pipe with a very subtle and delicate upturned bend to an equally delicate and thin shank. The stummel narrows down towards the foot from a nice broad and wide rim top. The pipe ends with a thin fancy vulcanite stem that has a slight bend at the slot end that carries forward the overall delicate profile of the pipe as a whole. The second aspect that struck me was how light the pipe was!!The pipe is stamped vertically towards the shank end bottom as “MELBY” over “MADE IN” over “DENMARK”. There is no other stamping on the stummel. The stem is also devoid of any stampings.The top notch quality of the briar, beautiful shape and overall high quality of finish and design screamed that this pipe had to be work of some really gifted artisan. To know more about this pipe, I visited pipedia.org. Sure enough, there was a mention of this brand under Danish pipes, but sadly nothing more than a mere mention. In my quest to unravel this mysterious brand, I surf the internet and the only reference that I could find out was on an aptly named site “VERY KEEN ON PIPES”. Here is the link to this interesting site; https://vkpipes.com/

Within this site I searched for Melby and here is what I learned; https://vkpipes.com/pipeline/melby/

An extraordinary Danish work! As every proper Danish pipe it’s made of a good briar, shows nice grain and has skillfully designed freehand shape. But the most of all we’re absolutely amazed with its sense of equilibrium – the pipe can surely balance just on its heel (back side of its bottom). Some signs (such as kind of briar) hint it might be a Karl Erik pipe but we don’t have a 100% proof so far.

With this information, I move ahead with my initial visual inspection.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in a very well smoked state, but, I have to admit that it was well taken care of by the previous owner. An even layer of heavy cake build up is observed in the chamber with overflow of lava on the rim top surface, notably at the back. Otherwise, the rim top surface and both inner and outer rim edges are in fairly good condition with slight darkening and unevenness to the inner rim edge. It is pretty strong sweet smelling pipe, I say!! I am not sure if by mere cleaning of the chamber and shank internals that these smells will be eliminated. The smooth stummel surface has beautiful Bird’s eye grain patterns on either sides of the stummel with beautiful densely packed cross grains on the front, back and the shank. The stummel surface has a dirty yellowish orange like stain to the briar that has darkened and dulled out due to accumulation of grime. Once it has been cleaned up, the grains should pop out after a nice polish. The mortise with shank internals is clogged and shows heavy accumulation of oils and tars. The chamber emanates a very strong sweet odor from previous usage. The draught hole is right at the bottom center and should be a great smoker!! The light weight and perfect shape make it a beautiful pipe to clench while you read your favorite book or while tending to your garden!! Reclaiming this piece of briar should be a fun project. The delicate fancy vulcanite stem is deeply oxidized, especially in the nooks and crannies. There are a few deep tooth indentations on either surface of the stem in the bite zone and over the upper button edge. The button edges would need to be sharpened and made crisp. The tenon and the slot show heavy accumulation of dried oils and gunk and the airflow through the stem is laborious.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She scrubbed out the dried oils, tars and gunk from the mortise with a fabricated dental spatula and further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. A clean pipe also helps in clearly identifying the work that would be required to restore a pipe. The pictures shows the condition of the pipe when it reached me after being cleaned. The chamber stills has the strong old odor and would need further intrusive methods to address this issue. The walls are solid without any signs of damage. The inward curving wide rim top surface has a flat smooth ring towards the chamber. The flat inner rim edge is slightly darkened towards the front and left of the stummel and would need to be addressed. The rounded outer rim surface is in perfect condition but shows signs of overzealous cleaning by Abha to remove the overflow of lava from the right and extending to the back side of the rim top. I am amazed at the cavernous size of the chamber. The stummel surface is sans any fills or flaws. A nice polish and the beautiful grains will pop out and will be on display in all their glory. The stummel has lost its old stain and further sanding followed with micromesh pad polishing will further bring out the natural finish of the bowl. Whether to stain it to accentuate the grains or to let it be, I shall decide once the micromesh cycle is complete. I think as the pipe is smoked, over a period of time, the briar will take on some nice dark coloration and patina. I am really looking forward to see the stummel after polish. The mortise and shank internals are also nice and clean now. The seating of the stem tenon in to the mortise is snug and flush with the shank end. The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been removed, thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha. The slot and stem internals are all clean and fresh. The deeper tooth indentations on the upper and lower surface and on the upper button edge are now clearly visible. I intend to first raise these indentations to the surface by heating and sanding followed, if necessary, by filling it with a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. A bit of sanding to remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. THE PROCESS
Firstly, I heat the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth indentations to the surface and follow it up with a sanding with a piece of folded 220 grit sand paper. This helps to even out the raised surface, address minor tooth chatter and also remove the deep seated oxidation. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove the raised oxidation and the resulting sanding dust. The tooth indentations, though greatly reduced, are still prominent. I need to address this issue. I mix a small quantity of activated charcoal and CA superglue and spot apply it over the visible bite marks. I set the stem aside for the fill to cure overnight. If I had black CA superglue, that is what I would have used in this instance. Next, I start by sanding the entire stummel surface, including the rim top, with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I also work the inner rim edge with the sandpaper to remove the darkened briar and even out the rim edge. This sanding helps in addressing all the minor dents, if any, from the surface while providing a smooth surface for the next stage which is polishing cycle using complete set of micromesh pads. I was especially very careful while sanding the bottom of the shank around the stampings, as it is very easy to miss out the stamp and one swipe of the sand paper is enough to ruin/ damage the stampings. Before I move to the next stage of polishing the stummel, I decided to address the issue of strong odor in the chamber. To eliminate the ghost smells from the pipe, I decided to treat it with salt and alcohol. I do not use Kosher salt as it is not readily available here and if available, it’s very expensive. I use cotton balls which is an at par substitute as I have realized over the last year or so. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in the chamber. Thereafter, I pack the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim inner edge. I soak the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol has gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I top it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol has drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise and the cotton and alcohol had fulfilled its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. The chamber now smells clean and fresh. I set the stummel to dry out naturally.While the chamber was soaking in the salt and alcohol bath, I worked the stem. The stem fills had cured and with a flat head needle file, I sand these fills to achieve a rough match. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. Since my hand held rotary tool is out for repairs, I could not continue with my experimentation on use of Red Tripoli and White Diamond during the polishing regime. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 girt micromesh pads. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem looks nice and shinning black.The stummel had dried out completely and I could now move ahead with polishing the stummel. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. I shared pictures of the stummel at this stage in restoration with Abha for her opinion as to whether stain it in dark brown or otherwise. Prompt came the response to let it be. She really liked the patterns of grain and the look of the pipe. Also as the pipe is smoked, it will turn dark and develop a nice patina. So, natural finish to the stummel it is!! Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Unfortunately I just missed out on taking pictures of the stummel at this point in restoration process. But it looks beautiful, I say!!

By the weekend, my rotary tool stabilizer came back after repairs and I could finally move ahead with finishing the pipe. To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. This is truly a beautifully crafted pipe with gorgeous grains all around and the feather weight coupled with a large bowl will surely provide a long and leisurely smoke allowing ample time to admire the construction and grains on this pipe. P.S. This pipe was earmarked not for addition to my personal collection but for sale. However, the beautiful grains, the exquisite carving and very light weight coupled with a large chamber for a long and peaceful smoke has me enticed to an extent that I have decided to add it to my rotation. Such is the beauty of this pipe. Now all that remains is to load this bowl with my favorite G.L. Pease Virginia blend and puff contentedly for some time!!

Thanks to all readers of Reborn pipes who have spared a moment of their invaluable time in reading through this write up and as is always, your suggestions and advice are always welcome as this would not only help me but  also help the new pursuers of this art.

Advertisements

Restoring a Barling & Sons # 4899, Made in Denmark


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had finished refurbishing a Barling Brandy bowl in a smooth finish and it has found a new piper to carry forward the legacy. The next pipe that I decided to work on is a lovely Brandy bowl shaped Barling pipe in a sandblast finish which was purchased together with the smooth finish that I have mentioned above. The pipe boasts of shallow blasts on the stummel with beautiful patterns. The pipe is stamped on the surface at the bottom of the shank as “B.BARLINGS & SONS” in block capitals over “MADE IN DENMARK” over shape code numeral “4899”. The top of the saddle stem has the trademark BARLING in a cross stem logo. The stampings are all deep and crisp.Having just recently worked on a Barling pipe that bore the COM stamp of Denmark, I was aware of the provenance of this pipe. I reproduce the relevant part of the information gleaned from pipedia.org.

In the late 1970’s production of Barling pipes was shifted to Denmark where Eric Nording manufactured Barling pipes for Imperial. There may have been other factories, but as of this writing, none has been identified. Nording stated that he made approximately 100.000 pipes for Imperial.

Despite these attempts to diversify the line, Barling lost its market. These pipes just weren’t equivalent to the family era pipes.
Finally, Imperial decided to close down the Barling operations entirely by 1980.

Thus from the above, it is safely concluded that the pipe currently on my work table is from the period between late 1970’s to 1980 and given the quality of sandblast, most likely manufactured by other factories in Denmark!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in a very nice condition having being smoked maybe only a few times. It was lightly smoked and with a thin layer of cake build up in the chamber. The rim top is covered in a minimal overflow of lava with inner and outer rim edges in pristine condition. The chamber has minimum odor and should be addressed once the chamber and shank internals are cleaned up. A simple scrub with a brass bristled brush should suffice to clean the rim top surface.The sandblasted stummel surface has a shallow sandblast with beautiful patterns of mix of Bird’s eye, cross grains and nice swirls to the sides, front and bottom of the bowl respectively. The front of the stummel has a deep pit, likely caused during the sandblasting process where the soft briar was chipped off by the sand particles. The stummel surface is stained black and has a dark lacquer coat that has dulled a bit. The mortise is relatively clean with an easy draw. Running a few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol should clean up the shank internals. The straight vulcanite saddle stem gradually flares out towards the slot end and is deeply oxidized. Thankfully the stem surface is free of any bite marks or tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. The insides of the slot and tenon have very little signs of accumulated gunk. The crossed Barling logo on the saddle top of the stem is crisp and deep.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
I cannot thank my wife, Abha, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. With the initial pipe cleaning at her hands, allows me to move at a nice click with my restoration and repair work on the pipes.

The chamber is odorless and the walls are solid without any signs of damage. The sandblasted rim top surface is intact with an equally undamaged inner and outer rim edge. The chamber and rim top has been nicely cleaned up by Abha. With a draught hole right at the bottom and dead center, this should be a fantastic smoker!! Even though most of the lacquer coat was removed when the stummel was cleaned up by Abha, I could still see remnants of the peeling lacquer coat over some parts of the stummel and the stain has been washed away at a two places. I shall have to remove this coat and thereafter decide on my further course of action. The mortise and shank internals are clean and fresh. This should turn out to be an easy project requiring just a rub down with restoration balm followed by wax polish to bring life back in to the stummel. The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been greatly reduced thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha. A bit of sanding to remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. The stem internals are nice and clean with a free airflow. I would need to refresh the stem logo to make it pop out on the shining black stem once done.THE PROCESS
The first thing I addressed was the lacquer coating that remained on the stummel surface. I wiped the stummel surface with cotton swabs and alcohol. However, the coating persisted. Next I decided to use a stronger solvent. With cotton swabs and acetone, I cleaned the stummel surface. I was able to remove the lacquer coating completely from the surface.Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. However, I noticed that my finger tips had blackened with stain which was coming off. I thought that I would let it rest and dry out and thereafter check again. A couple of hours later, I wiped the stummel with a soft cotton cloth and to my chagrin, I noticed that the cloth had blackened at the spots which had come in contact with the stummel surface and the stain had come off from the surface too. I decided to heat the stummel surface with a heat gun and reset the stain. Should this trick fail, I had made up my mind to go the “full Monty” way. I would completely remove the old stain and apply a fresh coat of stain and the works!! And this was supposed to be a simple restoration!!I heat the stummel surface with my heat gun and set it aside to cool down naturally. Half an hour later, the stummel had cooled and I reapplied the “Before and After Restoration Balm”. This time there were no blackened finger tips. What a relief this revelation was!! Now that the stummel was nearly complete, I turned my attention to the stem refurbishing. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper, I sand down the stem surface. I followed it up by sanding it with 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 girt micromesh pads. This time around I could not continue with my experimentation that I had spelled out in my previous posts, as due to voltage fluctuations, my hand held rotary tool stabilizer had a burn out and had to be sent for repairs. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside.The stem looks nice and shinning black, however, the stem logo is yet to be refreshed and highlighted. With a white fine tipped correction pen, I filled the crossed Barling stamping and once it had dried a bit, with a toothpick, I scrapped off excess of the correction ink. The stamping is now completely refreshed and sits proudly on the top of the saddle.With three pipes on the home stretch and a week long wait later, my rotary tool came back from repairs. I was held up just for this piece of equipment!! To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and is waiting for a new home!!

A Malaga Beveled Rim Pot from Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on a lot of different estate pipes and selling them for different families. Once in a while it is good to change things up a bit. Last week Alex came by and went through the Malaga pipes from George Koch’s estate. I have a box of pipes from Alex that I am always working away at he added a few more Malaga pipes to his box. There are quite a few of them to work on so I decided to work on a few of them. The sixth of these Malaga pipes is a stunningly grained Pot with a beveled rim and a vulcanite stem. The mix of grain styles around the bowl and shank combined with the stem make it a stunning pipe. It has some great birdseye and cross grain on the sides of the bowl. It is one of the many Malaga pipes that came to my brother and me in several shipments of pipes from George’s daughter Kathy. When Jeff got each box the pipes were well wrapped and packed. Jeff unwrapped them and took the following photo to give an idea of the volume of the pipes that we purchased. This Malaga came in mixed in a box of pipes much like the one below.In each of the previous blogs that I have written on the restoration of George’s pipes I have told his story. If you have followed the restorations you will have read the information and the background piece that Kathy did on her father. Here is a link to one of the previous blogs on his Malaga pipes where I included her tribute in full (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/26/back-to-kathys-dads-pipes-restoring-a-%c2%bc-bent-malaga-author/). You can also read the bio on her Dad, George Koch. It is an interesting read and one that shows just how far our pipe collecting passion can go when we find a brand of pipes that we enjoy. I am going to only include the portion on the Malagas at this point. If you wish to read the rest follow the link above.

Kathy writes…We lived in Livonia, and that’s where his love for Malaga pipes began. After a few years he returned to Allis Chalmers and we moved back to Springfield. I remember that when we went back to Michigan to visit friends, Dad had to go to the Malaga store and acquire a few new pipes. Many a year I wrote to Malaga and they picked out a pipe for me to purchase that I could give Dad for a Christmas or birthday present. He was always pleased. His favorites were the straight stemmed medium sized bowl pipes, but he liked them all. 

He had some other pipes, but the Malagas were his favorites. I remember him smoking them sitting in his easy chair after work, with feet up on the ledge by the fire burning in the fireplace.  Growing up it was my job to clean them and he liked the inner bowl and stem coated with Watkins vanilla, leaving a little of that liquid in the bowl to soak in when I put them back on the rack…I’m very happy they are being restored by you and your brother and hope they find homes who enjoy them as much as Dad did. Thank-you for your care and interest. — Kathy, the oldest daughter

The Malaga straight Pot with a beveled rim top and a bite proof vulcanite stem is next on the table. The carver did a great job of shaping the pipe to follow the grain on the briar. The large bowl, narrow shank and inwardly beveled rim top look really good. The bowl had a thick cake on the top 2/3 of the bowl that overflowed with lava onto the rim so that it was impossible to see if there was damage on the inner edges. The sides of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the left side of the shank read MALAGA. The vulcanite stem had tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some lava overflow and some darkening on the back of the bowl. It was so dirty that it was hard to know if there was rim damage on the inner edge of the bowl. The pipe is incredibly dirty, even the externals of the bowl were covered with grime.He also took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank to show the beautiful grain around the bowl. The photos show the general condition of the bowl and wear on the finish. It is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe.Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the top side of the shank. The photos show the stamping MALAGA on the left side of the shank. The stamping is very readable. The next photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button and wear on the button surface and edges.I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/.That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and the flat surface of the rim looked very good. The inner and outer edge looked very good. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the on the back inside rim edge. The Bite-proof Twin Bore vulcanite stem had tooth chatter on both sides near and on the button surface.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank to show how good the condition is. It shows the MALAGA stamp and it is very legible.I decided to address the rim top first. I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to minimize the damage on the top, remove the darkening and clean up the damage on the front outer edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the damage on the inner edge of the bowl. I also sanded out the “road rash” on the front outer edge of the rim top.I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and a tooth brush. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for about 10 minutes then rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off with a soft cloth. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I am very happy with the results. I set the bowl aside and worked on the Bite-proof Twin Bore stem. There was tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem. I also needed to do some work on the surface of the button on both sides. I sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter and the repair into the surface of the stem. As I sanded and reshaped the button and stem surface the repaired areas and the tooth chatter disappeared. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad Obsidian Oil. I finished by polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish both fine and extra Fine and then wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil. This is a beautiful Malaga Pot with an inward beveled rim top and a vulcanite Bite-proof Twin Bore stem. It has a great look and feel. The shape of the bowl, the beveled rim top and the cut of the briar work well to highlight the grain around the bowl sides. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain took on life with the buffing. The rich oil cured colour works well with the polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the finished Malaga pipes that I have set aside for Alex. I am glad that he is carrying on the trust for George Koch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another one of Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes.

GBD 9456 New Era Restoration


By Al Jones

I’ve restored a number of GBD shape 9456 bent billiards before, but this is the first “New Era” finish that I’ve had in that shape. I’ve learned that New Era pipes are definitely a step up the GBD quality scale, regarding the briar. This one is no exception and has a nice mix of grain and birdseye. The brass rondell and “London, England” stamp show the pipe was made before the merger with Cadogan in 1981.

New Era finish was describe in a catalog from the 1970’s as:

New Era: “The beauty of this pipe’s perfect briar is accentuated by the richness of the ‘take-off’ dual finish.”

Some New Era pipes had the “Hand Cut” stamp on the stem, but according to Pipedia, not all Hand Cut stems were stamped as such. This stem does have the bullet-style tenon that I always see on stems withe the Hand Cut stamp.

The pipe had some build-upon the bowl top, the finish was faded and the stem heavily oxidized. The bowl had some small handling marks and a mild cake. The stem, while in great condition, was quite loose. Below are pictures of the pipe as it was received.

I use a piece of worn scotchbrite to remove the bowl top build-up, which revealed a nicely beveled bowl top. The cake was reamed with my Pipenet set and finished with a piece of 320 grit paper wrapped around one of the reamer bits. The bowl was soaked with alcohol and sea salt. Following the soak, the stem was fitted to the pipe. I use a heat gun to warm and expand the tenon and was fortunate that it expanded back to it’s original size, with a proper fit, but not too snug.

I removed the oxidation with 400, 800, 1,500 and 2,000 grit wet paper, followed with 8,000 and 12,000 micromesh sheets. The stem was then buffed with White Diamond rouge and Meguiars Plastic Polish.

The handling marks on the bowl steamed out nicely with a wet cloth and an electric iron. The bowl was then buffed with White Diamond rouge, followed with several coats of Carnuba wax. This revived the faded finish nicely and no re-stain was required.

Below is the finished pipe.

?

A Malaga Octagonal Panel Billiard from Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on a lot of different estate pipes and selling them for different families. Once in a while it is good to change things up a bit. Last week Alex came by and went through the Malaga pipes from George Koch’s estate. I have a box of pipes from Alex that I am always working away at he added a few more Malaga pipes to his box. There are quite a few of them to work on so I decided to work on a few of them. The fifth of these Malaga pipes is a beautiful Octagonal Panel Billiard with carving around the sides of the bowl and on one side of the square shank. It has a variegated blue acrylic ¼ bent square saddle stem. The mix of grain styles around the bowl and shank combined with the stem make it a stunning pipe. It has some great cross and flame grain on the sides of the bowl. The Octagonal Panel Billiard shaped pipe was just one of the many Malaga pipes that came to my brother and me in several shipments of pipes from George’s daughter Kathy. When Jeff got each box the pipes were well wrapped and packed. Jeff unwrapped them and took the following photo to give an idea of the volume of the pipes that we purchased. This Malaga came in mixed in a box of pipes.In each of the previous blogs that I have written on the restoration of George’s pipes I have told his story. If you have followed the restorations you will have read the information and the background piece that Kathy did on her father. Here is a link to one of the previous blogs on his Malaga pipes where I included her tribute in full (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/26/back-to-kathys-dads-pipes-restoring-a-%c2%bc-bent-malaga-author/). You can also read the bio on her Dad, George Koch. It is an interesting read and one that shows just how far our pipe collecting passion can go when we find a brand of pipes that we enjoy. I am going to only include the portion on the Malagas at this point. If you wish to read the rest follow the link above.

Kathy writes…We lived in Livonia, and that’s where his love for Malaga pipes began. After a few years he returned to Allis Chalmers and we moved back to Springfield. I remember that when we went back to Michigan to visit friends, Dad had to go to the Malaga store and acquire a few new pipes. Many a year I wrote to Malaga and they picked out a pipe for me to purchase that I could give Dad for a Christmas or birthday present. He was always pleased. His favorites were the straight stemmed medium sized bowl pipes, but he liked them all. 

He had some other pipes, but the Malagas were his favorites. I remember him smoking them sitting in his easy chair after work, with feet up on the ledge by the fire burning in the fireplace.  Growing up it was my job to clean them and he liked the inner bowl and stem coated with Watkins vanilla, leaving a little of that liquid in the bowl to soak in when I put them back on the rack…I’m very happy they are being restored by you and your brother and hope they find homes who enjoy them as much as Dad did. Thank-you for your care and interest. — Kathy, the oldest daughter

The Malaga Octagonal Panel Billiard with a square shank and a variegated blue Lucite saddle stem is next on the table. The carver did a great job of shaping the pipe to follow the grain on the briar. The panel and octagonal panel bowl looks really good. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed with lava onto the rim so that it was impossible to see if there was damage on the inner edges. The outside of the rim top had some heavy damage on the front side of the bowl top. The sides of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the left side of the shank read MALAGA. The blue saddle acrylic stem had tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some lava overflow and some darkening on the back of the bowl. There is also some deep “road rash” on the front of the bowl that looks like the pipe had been dropped or knocked against concrete. It was so dirty that it was hard to know if there was rim damage on the inner edge of the bowl. The pipe is incredibly dirty, even the externals of the bowl were covered with grime and the carved surfaces around the bowl are dirty as well. He also took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank to show the beautiful grain around the bowl. The photos show the general condition of the bowl and wear on the finish. It is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe. Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the top side of the shank. The photos show the stamping MALAGA on the left side of the shank. The stamping is very readable. The next photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The first photo shows the shape of the stem and the blue colouring. The second and third photos show the chatter and wear on the button on both sides and the deep tooth marks on the underside near the button.I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/.That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the damage to the flat surface of the rim and the inner edge on the back side and on the outer edge toward the front of the bowl. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the damaged areas on the front of the bowl and inner edges. The acrylic/Lucite stem had tooth chatter on both sides and a large tooth mark on the underside near and on the button surface.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank to show how good the condition is. It shows the MALAGA stamp and it is very legible.I decided to address the rim top first. I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to minimize the damage on the top, remove the darkening and clean up the damage on the front outer edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the damage on the inner edge of the bowl. I also sanded out the “road rash” on the front of the rim top. I polished the rim top and the exterior of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad to remove the dust. Each grit of micromesh gave it more of a shine. I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and a tooth brush. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for about 10 minutes then rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off with a soft cloth. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. It took some time to really get it into the grooves and valleys of the carved pattern on the bowl sides and shank. I worked in deeper with a horsehair shoebrush. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The reworked bowl looks really good and matches the colour of the rest of the pipe. I am very happy with the results. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. There was tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem. There was one large deep tooth mark on the underside at the button that needed to be addressed. I also needed to do some work on the surface of the button on both sides. I cleaned the surface of the stem with alcohol on a cotton pad and filled in the damaged area with clear super glue. I set the stem aside until the repairs cured.Once the glue had cured I used a needle file to reshape the button and flatten out the repairs. The stem looked much better.I sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter and the repair into the surface of the stem. As I sanded and reshaped the button and stem surface the repaired areas and the tooth chatter disappeared.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. This is a beautiful Malaga Octagonal Panel Billiard with a square shank and a variegated blue acrylic stem. It has a great look and feel. The crowned panelled rim top, the octagonal panels and the cut of the briar work well to highlight the grain around the bowl sides. I polished Lucite stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain took on life with the buffing. The rich oil cured colour works well with the polished blue Lucite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the finished Malaga pipes that I have set aside for Alex. I am glad that he is carrying on the trust for George Koch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another one of Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes.

 

 

Restoring a Meerschaum Bent Billiard from Bob Kerr’s Estate


 Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen to work on from Bob Kerr’s estate is one of his unique meerschaum pipes. The family notes identified this as Peterson Meerschaum and the crater finish on the meer certainly is very similar to some of the Peterson’s Meers that I have worked on. However, there is no stamping or marking on the meerschaum and no nickel ferrule on the shank end. The shank is lined with a vulcanite or acrylic tube that strengthens the shank and that is not something I have seen on Petersons. The vulcanite stem is a fishtail rather than a Peterson’s  P-lip stem. There is an identifying stamp on the left side of the saddle. It is a logo stamp that looks like a walking pipe with a wisp of smoke curling out of the top of the bowl. The top of the bowl has a flumed black rim top that extends down the side of the bowl for about a ¼ inch. It is part of the estate that I am cleaning up for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with their father, Bob. In the collection there were 19 Peterson’s pipes along with a bevy of Dunhills, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.

I really am enjoying working on the Peterson’s in the estate. This meerschaum was interesting to me in that it is a bit of a mystery and has some patina and wear that tell a story. Even if it is not a Peterson, it is a nice meerschaum bent billiard. When I took it out of the box of cleaned up pipes that Jeff sent back I could see that it had of the typical crater finishes that some Peterson’s Meers had in the past.. It has some patina developing around the bowl and shank under the thick grime, chips and tarry spots. The shank is quite thick and the finish is dirty. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a lava overflow on the rim. The top and edges of the rim are dirty. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the button end. Surprisingly it did not have the deep tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes and even the button edges were in decent condition. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it.     Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thick, hard cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the top of the rim and the edges of the bowl. There were some nicks on the outer edge of the bowl but it was hard to tell if there was any damage to the inner edge of the rim as it had a thick cake lining it. Hopefully it protected it.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the scratches and pitting in the meerschaum finish in the craters and on the smooth surfaces of the bowl underneath the dirt and debris of the years. Jeff took photos of the shank showing the chips on the top edge and the stamping on the left side of the stem. The chips are around vulcanite or acrylic insert in the shank. The stamping on the stem was readable as you can see from the photos. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. I am pretty sure the pipe was made by the Laxey Pipe Ltd. on the Isle of Man for either another export company or for Peterson’s in Ireland (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Laxey_Pipes_Ltd). I quote from the Pipedia article in full:

Laxey Pipe Ltd. resided in a historical 19th century four-storey Man stone building at The Quay, Old Laxey, Isle of Man, which thankfully has been preserved. The company specialised in the production of Meerschaum Pipes using the Meerschaum mined by the Tanganyika Meerschaum Corporation in the Amboseli basin in Tanganyika (since 1964 part of the United Republic of Tanzania). Please note: you may often find names like “Manx Pipes Ltd.”, “Man Pipe Co.” and others more, but there is no indication of another Isle of Man pipe producer other than Laxey Pipe Ltd. at any time!

Laxey Pipe Ltd. marketed own brands like “Manxpipe”, “Manxman”, “Manxland” e.c. Names like “John Bull”, “White Knight” (unwaxed), “Domino” (black, or lined) indicated some shapes / colours of Laxey’s own series. The stems either showed the astronomical sign for “male” or “man” (circle + arrow), or the crest of the Isle of Man, the 3-legged X in a circle. Manxpipes and Laxey’s other brands were available through pipe retailers in general, but also were sold (mainly) to tourists through their own shop in Laxey.

Furthermore Laxey Pipe Ltd. manufactured the meer bowls for Peterson, Barling, Nørding and others from the later 1960’s until 2001. Man Pipe e.g. was a brand distributed by Comoy’s. The bowls usually showed no nomenclature indicating the orderer. “Genuine Block Meerschaum” was engraved frequently. Often, just the stems were different, while bowls were the same.

Supply of meer from East Africa run out (Kenya / Tanzania exhausted, Somalia inaccessible), and thus the last Laxey meers were supplied to trade in May, 2001. Laxey Pipe Ltd. tried to survive continuing with briar pipes – mainly in the Danish style -, but to no success. It closed down business in July, 2002.

I looked for the stem logo on Pipephil and online and was not able to find any verification for who made the pipe. I suppose that I will never know for sure but it appears that the pipe was made on the Isle of Man for export for another European pipe company. I am guessing that like Bob’s other pipes, this one came from the time period of the late 60s or early 70s. That was as much as I could figure out.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I am very glad for Jeff’s help cleaning them. He cleaned this filthy pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with great looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour I was amazed it looked so good. I took photos before I started my part of the work.     I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. I also wanted to show that the damage to the rim top was more extensive than I had originally thought. The rim top was worn and the flumed finish was rubbed off There were some small nicks and scratches around the top and outer edge. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the lack of tooth marks and the light oxidation on the stem surface. You can also see the wear to the button. I took some photos of the shank end to highlight some of the issues with this pipe and to show the stamping on the left side of the saddle stem. Where the vulcanite or acrylic insert was in the shank there were some chipped areas. There was one on the top right and two on the top left side. These chipped areas would need to be repaired. I circled the areas of concern with red on the first photo. The second photo shows the logo of the pipe with smoke curling out of the top on the left side of the stem.Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

Now, on to the rest of the restoration of this Crater Finished Bent Billiard. It was great that I did not need to clean the pipe. I decided to start the process by addressing the damage area surrounding the insert in the shank. I filled in the areas around the shank insert with clear super glue until they were even with the top of the rounded shank end. I spread the glue around the edges of the shank insert. I let them cure and then refilled them until the surface was even. The photos show the process and the shank end after I had filled in to an acceptable point where the condition of the shank end was good.    I sanded the repair with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper until the end of the shank was smooth and the repairs were blended into the shank surface. I used the sandpaper to clean up the scratching and nicks in the rim top surface. I cleaned the meerschaum bowl with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Briar Cleaner to remove the debris left behind by the sanding of the rim top and to blend the repairs into the briar. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar and let it sit for 10 minutes. I rinsed the bowl off with warm running water to remove the product and the grime. The mottled finish really stood out. Once the bowl dried the finish looked really good. I polished the meerschaum rim top and shank end as well as the smooth high spots on the bowl sides with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I touched up the rim top and edges with a Black Stain pen to match the colour of the top and the flume down the sides of the bowl. Once it was polished with the Before & After Balm and buffed with a microfiber cloth the stain would blend perfectly. I rubbed the meerschaum down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the meerschaum with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I decided to touch up the logo stamp on the left side of the shank. I use PaperMate liquid paper for doing this. I worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick. Once the material had hardened I used the tooth pick to scrape off the excess material.     I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the remaining oxidation and smooth out the file marks. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good.   I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.   As usual at this point in the restoration process I am excited to be on the homestretch. I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the meerschaum and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The meerschaum has a rich glow with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast to the rich developing patina of the bowl. This Peterson’s style meerschaum is probably made by the Manx Pipe factory on the Isle of Mann. The crater style finish on this pipe made it another fun pipe to work. The repair on the inserted liner in the shank gives the shank a smooth finish. It really is a quite stunning pipe whose shape and finish make it stand out. The thick/chubby shank makes it a very comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This beautiful pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store if you would like to add it to your collection and carry on Bob’s legacy. If not, I have a lot more of Bob’s estate to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

A Simple Restoration of a BBB “Natural Grain” # 11


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

My pipe cleaning factory back home is churning out pipes galore and these cleaned pipes once they reach me are being liked by people who see them and sales are also improving, though restricted only to local customer, yes, you read it right, without an ‘s’, as only one colleague has been motivated to take up enjoying a pipe!! I am sure more will follow. Those readers who have been following my work on rebornpipes.com are well aware that here in India, pipe smoking culture died its natural death in 1970’s when old pipe shops and tobacconists were pushed out of business by cigarette manufacturers and people got used to the convenience of a ready-to-smoke cigarette. And to add to our woes, there is a ban on importing tobacco!! Well, wish me luck that I am able to revive this culture back here again…

Well, the fourth pipe selected by my colleague from the heap of cleaned up pipes that Abha had sent me, is a well-made British pipe. It’s a classic straight Billiards with tapered stem BBB pipe in a smooth finish. It has nice Bird’s eye grain on either sides of the stummel with tightly packed cross grains to the front, back and on the shank. The pipe is stamped on the left of the shank as “BBB” in a diamond box, in block letters over “NATURAL GRAIN” split on either side of the diamond box. On the right of the shank, close to the bowl end it is stamped with the numeral “11” probably a shape code. The tapered vulcanite stem with an aluminum stinger has the trademark stamp of BBB in a diamond box. However, the stem logo is not a brass logo, pointing to the later/ newer era pipe. The COM stamp is conspicuous by its absence. The stampings are all crisp and prominent. Having a few BBB pipes in my personal collection that once belonged to my grandfather and having a few friends like Steve and Victor Naddeo who collect BBB pipes, the information readily available was sufficient to date this pipe. From discussions with these stalwarts and comparing it with BBBs from my inheritance, it is evident that this pipe is definitely from a newer era, probably 1980s, the dead giveaway being the lack of brass diamond roundel for the stem logo, presence of an aluminum stinger and the grading of Natural Grain!!

With this information, I move ahead with my initial visual inspection.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in a very decent state, to say the least. It was only smoked a couple of times and a thin even layer of cake build up is observed in the chamber. The rim top is covered in places with specs of overflow of lava. Otherwise, the rim top surface and both inner and outer rim edges are in pristine condition.The smooth stummel surface has beautiful Bird’s eye grain patterns on either sides of the stummel with beautiful densely packed cross grains on the front, back and the shank. The bottom surface of the stummel is flattened, making it a sitter. The stummel surface has a natural finish of the briar and the grains should pop out after a nice polish. The mortise with shank internals is relatively clean and the chamber is odorless. The draught hole is at the bottom center and should be a great smoker!! Reclaiming this piece of briar should be an easy chore. The tapered vulcanite stem is clean with very little signs of oxidation seen in the bite zone on either surfaces of the stem. The tenon end along with the detachable aluminum stinger is also clean. The slot does not show any signs of accumulated dried gunk. Air flow through the stem air way is full and free. A couple of pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol should freshen up the stem internals.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE……
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. A clean pipe also helps in clearly identifying the work that would be required to restore a pipe. The pictures shows the condition of the pipe when it reached me after being cleaned. The chamber is odorless and the walls are solid without any signs of damage. The smooth rim top surface and the inner and outer rim edge are in perfect condition. The mortise and shank internals are also nice and clean now. The seating of the stem tenon into the mortise is snug and sits flush with the shank end. I had noticed a darkened spot on the right side of the shank near and below the stamped numeral 11 (marked in yellow arrow). On close scrutiny, I feel that this spot is not a fill but a minor flaw in the briar since a gentle probing with a sharp dental tool revealed a solid surface. I have decided to let it be. The rest of the stummel surface is sans any fills or flaws. A nice polish and the beautiful grains will pop out and will be on display in all their glory. As the stamping suggests, this is a pipe with natural finish to the briar and I have no intentions to change this!!! I think as the pipe is smoked, over a period of time, the briar will take on some nice dark coloration and patina. I am really looking forward to see the stummel after polish. The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been removed, thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha. The slot and stem internals are all clean and fresh. The aluminum stinger too is nice and clean. A bit of sanding to remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. THE PROCESS
I start this restoration by sanding the entire stummel surface, including the rim top, with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helps in addressing all the minor dents, if any, from the surface while providing a smooth surface for the next stage which is polishing cycle using complete set of micromesh pads. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. I showed the stummel to the new owner and discussed if he wanted me to stain the stummel or preferred it the way it appeared at this stage. I took this opportunity to explain to him that the stummel would darken as he smoked taking on a beautiful dark patina with time and usage. He liked the pipe without stain and thankfully, that’s how it shall remain. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Now that the stummel was nearly complete, I turned my attention to the stem. Since there was no damage to the stem and Abha had done a wonderful job of removing the oxidation from the stem surface, I straight up proceed with sanding the stem surface using 400, 600, 800, 1000 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool and also sharpened the button edges while sanding. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 2400 girt micromesh pads. Continuing with my experimentations that I had spelled out in my previous posts, I mount a cotton buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and polish the stem with Red Rouge polish as I had read that this polish has grit between 2400 to 3200 grit pads of the micromesh pads. Further, I mount a fresh buffing wheel on the rotary tool and polish the stem with White Diamond polish as it has grit equivalent to 3800- 4000 of micromesh pads. I finish the stem polish by wet sanding with 6000 to 12000 grit pads of the micromesh. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem looks nice and shinning black. I am really happy with this process of stem polishing as the results are excellent while saving me huge amounts of time and effort. To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and is ready to be handed over to the new piper. Hope he enjoys his leisure time with this beautiful and gorgeous looking pipe, smoking his favorite tobacco!! P.S. This is the last of the four pipes that was selected by this gentleman to carry forward the trust posed in the pipe by the previous piper and I am sure that this pipe will provide the new piper many years of happy smokes and will remind him of our association. This was also the most difficult of all the four pipes to let go!! Such is the beauty of this pipe.

Thanks to all readers of Reborn pipes who have spared a moment of their invaluable time in reading through this write up and as is always, your suggestions and advice are always welcome as this would not only help me but also help the new pursuers of this art.