Blog by Steve Laug
The last of John’s pipes that I worked on while he was working on the Danish Sovereign Peewit was a beautiful old Yello-Bole Bulldog. It was stamped KBB in a cloverleaf on the left side of the shank next to four lines of stamping. The first read Yello-Bole and underneath that was stamped Cured with Real Honey and an R in a circle. The third line read Imperial in script and the fourth read Imported Briar. The stem had a push tenon and had the yellow circle inset in the vulcanite. It is shown in the photo below – it is the last pipe in the column on the left side of the photo. This pipe actually was one of the free ones that came with the pipe rack that John purchased. It was sitting on the rack without a stem. The stem was inside the humidor jar. I had seen it before and had assumed that the tenon was broken but it was not. It was just very loose and would not stay in the shank. The metal spacer that separates the shank and stem was attached to the stem and not to the bowl. The bowl itself was very dirty and caked. The finish was not too bad and there were no deep dents of scratches in the briar just some ground in grime. The rim was caked with a thick buildup of tars and oils that had almost fossilized. The stem was in good shape other than being oxidized. There was tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem.
I used cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol to clean out the bowl, shank and the inside of the stem. I worked them until them came out white. I scrubbed the aluminum space with alcohol and then with a metal polishing cloth to bring back the original shine. I wiped down the briar with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime from the finish of the bowl and the grain underneath really popped. The rim buildup was so hard that I used the topping board and sandpaper to remove it and lightly sand the rim surface itself to remove the pitting. I sanded the outer edge with a folded piece of sandpaper to minimize the rough spots on the edge. I sanded the rim with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and then wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I touched up the rim with the stain pens until it matched the stain colour on the bowl. I then wiped down the pipe with some olive oil on a paper towel and let it soak into the finish. I sanded the stem with 220 sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and oxidation and then with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12,000 grit sanding pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. When I had finished with the sanding I buffed the stem with White Diamond. To make the stem snug in the shank I used a cotton swab and water to wet the mortise in the shank to swell the briar. This helped a lot and the stem was much tighter. It was still too loose to my liking so I ran clear superglue around the tenon and lightly sanded it to obtain a snug fit on the stem. I put the pipe together and buffed it with White Diamond. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to seal and protect the stem and bowl. I buffed it with a soft flannel buff to get the shine. The finished pipe is shown below and is yet another clean and ready pipe for John to load and smoke. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of the smoking characteristics of this old timer. It turned out to be a beautiful pipe with nice looking mixed grain. The old vulcanite was interesting to me in that it had pieces of metal that were part of the casting of the stem. I remember reading somewhere that these occurred in stems that were made during the war years when rubber was at a premium. To my thinking that helps to date this bulldog to the late 1940s or early 1950s. Enjoy your “new” pipe John and be sure to let us know how it smokes for you.