Daily Archives: November 20, 2014

A Sweet KBB Yello-Bole Honey Cured Bulldog – Robert M. Boughton

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Photos © the Author

You can’t stop us on the road to freedom
You can’t stop us ’cause our eyes can see
Men with insight, men in granite
Knights in armor intent on chivalry
She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey
She’s an angel of the first degree
She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey

Just like honey, baby, from the bee — Van Morrison, Northern Irish singer-songwriter-musician, “Tupelo Honey” (1971)

As my good friend and mentor, Chuck Richards, commented at a recent gathering of local enjoyers of the fair tobacco pipe in general, Kaufman Brothers & Bondy created the Yello-Bole line in 1932 as a less expensive alternative to its regular stable of Kaywoodie, Reiss-Premier and of course KB&B pipes.

Now the name Yello-Bole is synonymous with the terms second-rate and, worse still, just cheap, as though the measure of a good smoke were ever determined by its price. [See, for example, Peterson’s late great and noble attempt in years gone by to make pipes affordable to the Everyman.]

But its older products, such as the KBB Yello-Bole Imperial Bulldog of this discourse, “Cured with Real Honey” and with the KBB in a clover, as well as a tell-tale encircled “I” on the stem (might it be ambera?) – although crafted with briar deemed unsuitable for the older brothers of the family – nevertheless was still made from higher quality pieces of that fine wood than is, in general if ever, available today.

Also, the KBB Yello-Bole Imperial Bulldog is a definite vintage specimen (another present day determinant of value), based on the four key signs contained on the pipe, which date it to anywhere from the 1930s to the 1950s.Rob1








Rob9 Beginning with the rim, I removed most of the blackening with a quick rub of purified water, and the rest except for one small, pernicious burn with a light touch of super fine steel wool that left no new scratches but also made clear the blemishes that were already present. Rob10 I sanded the rim with 400-grit paper and micro-meshed with 1500, 2400 and 3600 grades. I later succeeded in removing the one remaining burn mark shown below.Rob11 Moving on to the chamber, I was startled when most of the cake crumbled from the walls with a couple of turns of the reamer. Still more shocking was the sudden appearance of a thin coat of the original yellow product of honey curing. I knew I had a rare find and wondered at the short-term but intense enjoyment of the pipe that could have led to more than average cake but left the prominent yellowing intact. The rest of the cake came clean with gentle 400-grit sanding.

Staying with the 400-grit paper to remove scratches and dings on the beautiful briar, I lightened the color still more and found a few fills and other grain flaws that accounted for why this finely shaped bulldog didn’t end up with, say, a Kaywoodie stamp.Rob12



Rob15 Using micromesh at an escalation from 1500 to 2400 and 3600 grades eliminated the remaining scratches.

The cleaning of this pipe was achieved with refreshing ease and the expenditure of few bristly cleaners soaked in Everclear.

In a difficult choice, I decided to re-stain the briar with a medium as opposed to the original light brown color. I applied Lincoln boot stain and flamed the alcohol out before removing the char with 2400 micromesh and smoothing it out using 3600.

To polish the prepped pipe, I used red and white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba, and after rubbing the wood with a cotton rag saw it needed another round on all of the buffers except the red Tripoli.

I finished the stem with red and white Tripoli before White Diamond.Rob16




This was a very pleasant and relaxing restoration, in particular following my Ben Wade and the Chamber of Horrors brush with terror.

Tonight and tomorrow (Wednesday and Thursday), before the monthly official meeting of my pipe club at the local Moose Lodge, I will attempt to power through as many of the easier prospects as possible from my recent online purchase spree. The highlights include what I believe is a Comoy’s Smooth Bent Satin Matt Short Brandy #1770 (Made in London in a circle); a Kaywoodie Silhouette Bent Rusticated Squat Apple; a Kaywoodie Smooth Bent Signet Billiard; an Ehrlich Rusticated Straight Billiard; a LHS Park Lane Smooth Straight Poker; a Reinhard’s Smooth Straight Billiard; an Amadeus Greek Bent Billiard; a Parker Tall Tan Straight Poker; a unique small Town and Country Round-Bottom Straight Squat Rhodesian; a no-name Gourd Calabash Meerschaum Lined; a trio of old Missouri Meerschaum corncobs…and another KBB Yello-Bole, this one a Straight Four-Panel, also with the KBB in a clover but a yellow circle on the stem.

The first person to post a response challenging my ability to pull off the restorations/refurbishes of the above pipes before tomorrow night, and willing to bet a free pipe from the loser to the winner, is on for the bet. I will post before and after shots in a blog on my business Website, noted at the top of this submission, by 9:00 p.m. MDT (U.S.) tomorrow.

Our host, I trust, will vouch for my honesty in this type of wager.

An Old Meerschaum Bowl Restemmed and Reborn

Blog by Greg Wolford

Over the past couple of months I’ve been moving my workshop upstairs to an empty bedroom. With winter’s quick approach, I wanted to be ready for the bone-stiffening cold so I could do more restorations this year. All but the buffer had been moved into its new home and was close to being tidily organized when my plan went south; our son was moving back home and would need my new space back for his room!

It was a rather quick transition so all of my supplies were hastily packed up and moved back to the basement garage. In my rush, I didn’t think to make notes on boxes or anything else to help me sort through it later, I only packed quickly and securely and moved it all out. I felt like I got evicted! (Please note, that is not what happened to my son.) So finding any of the half-dozen projects I had in the works is now a daunting challenge; our garage serves as a catch-all of sorts, with our laundry area, my workshop, my wife’s “over flow” from her antique booth, and all of my son’s extras now piled in there.

The other day I did manage to find an old meerschaum bowl that I’d began to work on. It came to me in a lot I had gotten a couple of months ago I think, along with another bowl and aOld Meer couple of pipes (this is the only before photo I have).  In fact, this bowl was the main reason I got the lot; it looked old and interesting to me.

After doing a little research and getting some comments from friends on Instagram and Facebook I think it may be an Austrian meerschaum; I originally thought it was African. If I am correct, this pipe, well, bowl, is probably over 100 years old. It originally had a wooden shank extension which is now long gone. At first I thought of trying to make some sort of extension to replace it but soon decided that was more than I was willing to risk/attempt on this bowl.

(I forgot to take photos along the way; sorry folks.)

There was a think but soft and crumbly cake in the bowl and lots of oily build up in the shank. I gently reamed the cake back to very close to the meerschaum walls with my Castleford reamer, followed by an old round-ended, dull knife that I use for this purpose. Then I used some 400 grit wet/dry paper to get the last of the cake out and leave a nice, smooth bowl.

For the shank I stared with the poker-end of a Czech-tool, opening up the airway very gently. Then I moved to pipe cleaners that were dampened with isopropyl alcohol. Then I used alcohol dampened and dry cotton swabs to clean the shank. Do note the term dampened here; you do not want to get the meerschaum too wet. It took some time and many cleaners and cotton swabs to get the shank clean; there were also bits of meerschaum that were loose or came loose in the cleaning process that had to be removed. I also wiped out the bowl with several dampened cotton swabs after cleaning the shank. I also wiped off the outside of the bowl with alcohol dampened cotton balls; other than the rim, the exterior was quite clean. Then I let the pipe rest, to dry, overnight.

The next morning I examined the shank and found it to be a little rough inside. There was also a small divot in the bottom of the “lip” where the extension was and the new tenon would enter. I took the same dull reaming knife and scraped the mortise very gently to smooth it out; this took only a couple of passes and removed very little material but made a bug difference. I put a drop of amber superglue in the divot and sprayed it lightly with glue accelerator (I used a cloth to cover the pipe from over-spray) and then let it cure for a little while as I piddled with other things in the garage. I repeated this a second time and the result was a nice hard, smooth mortise entrance. Now it was time to decide on a stem.

Since the extension was gone, the mortise was very large, which would limit my stem options. I looked through my stems and found two candidates that had tenons large enough to work: a fancy vulcanite one and a long, round tapered acrylic one. It was a pretty easy choice when I put them up to the pipe to compare: acrylic wins by a long shot! The amber/bronze color of the stem just looked “right” with this bowl to my eye so now it was time to fit it.

I used my PME tenon turning tool to slowly reduce the size of the tenon.I noticed as I was cleaning the shank that the mortise narrowed a bit, probably from material loss both previously and current, closer to the bowl. So, as I test fit the tenon and found it stopping at the point of the narrowing I began to turn the tenon only about halfway up the total length. By doing this in small increments I was able to tell when the tenon was almost a perfect fit, which is when I switched to 320 grit paper and sanded the tapered tenon smooth and to a very nice fit.

The new stem was in nice condition, without a lot of drawer-dings, so it didn’t require much polishing: a little sanding with 220 and 400 grits, some plastic polish and a buff (lightly) with Tripoli and white diamond. I then used a heat gun to soften the stem and put the bend in it that I wanted and was pleased with. One more round of plastic polish and then everything got a coat of Halcyon II wax.Old Meer (1) Old Meer (2)Old Meer (3) Old Meer (4)

I’d love to tell you how wonderful the old ‘meer smokes but I can’t. You see, my son, the source of my “eviction”, saw the bowl on my work table and fell in love with it, before it was even cleaned up. So, after I got it all finished I took it straight to him to “see what he thought”; he really went nuts over it all reborn! As you have probably guessed by now, the old ‘meer now has a new home in his pipe rack, his first meerschaum pipe, which I hope and expect will serve him well with many good smokes for many years to come.