Blog by Steve Laug
I was going over some early blog posts and cleaning up the photos and adding an author line to each of them. Doing some end of year maintenance on the blog. As I was doing this I came across this blog that I wrote on a 1912 BBB Poker https://rebornpipes.com/2012/06/13/the-1912-bbb-poker/. While I like old pipes this one just never quite made it to the rotation. Not sure why until I took it out and looked at it today. Several issues are evident in just looking at the photos below. The briar is beautiful. The silver shank band is factory silver. The stem is a restem that I did earlier in my refurbishing days. The diameter of the stem at the silver band junction is too thick. It seems to bulge around the band instead of just flowing from the band smoothly. The taper was also thick at the button. Though it had an orific button on it the stem was still too thick at that point. The button also lacked the rounded edges of the early orific buttons that were on these old pipes. With those issues obvious to me today was the day that I needed to work on it.
I took it apart and blew through the shank – the airway was constricted. I blew through the stem it too was constricted. I used my KleenReem drill bit to open the shank airway and cleaned out and opened the airway. Blowing through the airway was no wide open. The stem was a different story. The tenon was nice and open. The issue lay in the round airway in the button. It was significantly smaller than the airway in the stem. I used a needle file on the airway in the button to open it up and flare it around the edges – while still maintaining the round look. Once that was complete the draw on the stem and shank were both open. Now I needed to work on the taper, the shape of the button and the diameter of the stem at the shank junction.
I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to shape the taper and to reduce the diameter of the stem. It took a lot of sanding to remove what in the pictures looks like very little overage of vulcanite. I did all of the sanding and shaping with the stem removed from the shank. I checked frequently to make sure that I did not over do the sanding and shaping by putting the stem back in place on the shank. The issue for me with this stem was not to round the edges at the shank while at the same time removing the excess evenly in terms of slope, width and diameter. It took me three hours to just shape the stem. At that point I had sanded with the 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I used a medium grit sanding block to keep the edges and slope straight so that I did not create waves or valleys in the top and bottom surfaces of the stem. The photos below show the stem after the shaping work is completed.
I worked the stem over with my usual array of micromesh sanding pads, wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. (Note to self – pick up some more of the 1500-2400 grit pads as I go through them far more quickly than the higher grit pads. Must be the water!) I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and when it had dried, gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff. The newly shaped stem is shown in the photos below. The draw is open, the shape more comfortable in the mouth and the lines look far better.