Daily Archives: August 11, 2012

Pipe Gadgets: A Bakelite Pipe Cleaner Ash Tray

One of the side hobbies that comes with being a pipe smoker and pipe accumulator is the collecting of pipe smoking ephemera. I am always looking for old pieces that go along with pipes whether they be Bakelite pieces such as Wunup Baccyflaps, ash trays or tobacco jars or other interesting pieces of pipe paraphanelia. Something about these old pieces brings to mind quieter times. It makes me wonder if I am just an old soul born in a wrong era! Ah well, I continue to pick up interesting pieces along the way and enjoy having them in my pipe cupboard in my office. The one that I wish to show you all today is a great little piece – a Pipe Cleaner Ash Tray made out of Bakelite.


On the bottom of the ashtray there was a patent number cast in the Bakelite. I used that number to research the patent information on this interesting piece of ephemera. One of the beauties of the internet is that you can quickly do a patent search of the United States Patent Office Database. This website is your entry to a world of historical information on some of the pieces that you may have in your pipe cabinet or on your desk. http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/search/ Once you are on the site you can search for information either by patent number or by the company name that is on the product. Quite quickly you are taken to a Quicktime picture of the patent information. It is there for you to read on line or you can copy it and save it for later reference. Image

In this case there was indeed a patent taken on the piece by W.B. Beuscher. The patent information included drawing of the invention and also a great verbal description of the piece. I have included them below because they are fascinating information to have at hand for these old pieces. I have used that US Patent Office database for a lot of different patent information from pipes to reamers and always am intrigued by the inventiveness of pipe smokers who are on the hunt for the best tools of the craft for cleaning and smoking their pipes! Have a look at the drawings and the description of this 1966 item.  ImageImageImage

The particular piece that I have is a Beushcer and it is about the size of a coffee or tea mug. It is different from the drawing above only in terms of the ash tray itself. In mine it is a cup and anchored to the bottom of the cup are the patented pair of blades that can be squeezed to adjust to the width of a pipe bowl. The picture below shows the inside of the bowl and the blades a bit more clearly so that you can see the details. Image

The next series of photos show the ash tray with a pipe that has been fit on the blades. The basic concept of the gadget is that after smoking a bowl of tobacco you turn your pipe over on top of the blades and give it a twist or two and the dottle and remainder of your tobacco is quickly removed into the ash tray for easy disposal. Then is a folded pipe cleaner is used to give the bowl a quick swab, another is run through the shank and stem and you are ready to reload your pipe for another enjoyable bowl in a clean pipe. ImageImage

The inventiveness and creativity seen in these gadgets never ceases to amaze me. I don’t think I will ever use this one but it is a great piece of pipe history to have around. The patent data gives a intimate glimpse into the mind of its creator. It gives me the ability to see what the basic idea was and what the inventor hoped to achieve with his invention.

A surprise awaited me when I opened the package and looked at this BBB Boldergrain Canadian

Blog by Steve Laug

When I saw this one show up on EBay I had to have it. Multiple reasons made it one that I wanted to own. The first is that I love the older BBB pipes. I like the way they look and smoke. I like the classic shapes and the old patinas that grace them. Then of course for me was the fact that in my reading and buying estates I had not come across this line of BBB pipes. It was new to me. So I placed a bid on it and won it – it turns out that I was the only bidder so no surprise really.

The first series of four pictures show the pipe as it appeared on EBay. The finish looked to be very worn, the stem oxidized but it did look promising to me. It looked like it would need a bit of work to bring it back to life. The stain would probably have to be redone. The stem cleaned and polished and who knows what the inside would be like. The second picture gave me a bit of hope that maybe the pictures were not quite the whole story. The final picture of the bowl looked like it may have been over reamed and I wondered if there was not a crack in the bowl. But I would know more when it arrived.



When the box arrived from England I opened it to see what would await me in terms of cleanup and restoration. You can imagine my expectations and what went through my mind as I cut the tape and the wrapping paper to open the box. When I took the bubble wrap off of the pipe and stem I was amazed at the pipe. It did not even look like the one in the pictures above. The three pictures below show the pipe just after I took it out of the box. The stem was slightly oxidized but the finish was actually not too bad at all. It was nothing that a good buff with some carnauba could not take care of.


The next series of photos show what the pipe looked like once it was buffed and the stem polished and the oxidation removed. This probably took the least amount of effort to clean of any of my EBay purchases. Even the inside was very clean. The shank and bowl were clean. I ran a few pipe cleaners through to check it out and they came out spotless. There was no old tobacco smell to the pipe at all – it smelled new. I loaded it up and smoked some older Three Nuns that I had around and enjoyed what appeared to be a very clean pipe. The first smoke was clean and flavourful with no hints of ghosts or residual flavours that I have come to expect from old estate pipes. This one was like smoking a well broken in pipe that had been thoroughly cleansed and exorcised of previous ghosts. It has since become a favourite of mine!


Charles Rattrays of Perth Catalogue

Blog by Steve Laug

I came across this catalogue from Rattrays of Scotland some time ago. I thought I would post it here so that you can share in the history of the great tobacco blends that came out of Scotland.


I Guess I Collect Pipe Reamers

Blog by Steve Laug

One of the side hobbies that came with collecting pipes was the collection of pipe reamers. I love the creativity and inventiveness that went into each one in my collection. I use many different reamers in the process of refurbishing pipes. It seems like I always need one that is shaped a bit differently than the one I am using so I reach into my box of reamers and almost certainly I will have one that fits the bowl size and shape.


In the top row from left to right – a KleenReem reamer, an Atlas Rocket, A Rogers Rocket, and bristle brush on a handle. The KleenReem is one of the reamers that I use almost all of the time. It is adjustable and has a built in drill bit that work well in cleaning out the shank. The Atlas Rocket is spring loaded and work in both conical bowls and U shaped bowls. I use it on lightly caked pipes that I am cleaning. The Rogers Rocket is a bit of overkill but works well on U shaped bowls as the blades are adjustable. The steel bristle brush is very good for just knocking off lightly coated bowls and as a finish to bowls that I have reamed.

The second row from left to right – A Hedgehog Reamer, a no name folding reamer, a Dunhill T handle reamer, a spring steel blade adjustable reamer, a GBD reamer. The Hedgehog and the GBD reamer are similar – they are a steel bullet shaped end with a key top that has sharp metal spikes all around it. These two I rarely use as they just seem too brutal. The no name reamer is really nice for narrow conical bowls and reaches to the bottom of the bowl. The spring steel bald reamer is great as an initial field ream of the pipe. The Dunhill T handle reamer I have used to finish a reaming of many pipes. It seems to be sharp and is capable of smoothing out the cake and bowl walls to a nice finish. The spring steel blades adjust to fit any bowl size or shape.

The bottom row from left to right – In the red package is a British Buttner reamer and on the far right bottom is a second one. These two I generally have with me when I am travelling and on the prowl for estate pipes. They work great on pretty much any pipe bowl to give me a good cleaning before I bring them home to the shop. Care must be exercised as they can easily make a bowl lose its round shape if you do not hold it vertically when you turn it. In the centre at the bottom is my favourite reamer – a PipNet reaming set. It includes a T handle and four heads of different sizes that each has four blades embedded in the plastic. These can quickly be changed from size to size and any bowl is easily reamed. They do work best on U shaped bowls.

I think since I took this picture I have picked up several more reamers for the collection but these give the basic idea of what I use in the process of a refurbishment. Keep an eye open for reamers while you are out and about in the shops looking for estate pipes or on EBay looking for pipe lots. You never know what kind of great tool you are going to find. If you have some that are not in the picture above and want to part with them drop me a line or comment on this post. We can work something out!