Daily Archives: May 22, 2015

Jameson’s 9438 (GBD) Restoration

Blog entry by Al Jones

Update June 1, 2020:

Originally did a terrible job working around the stamped J stem logo.  A few months ago, I switched to a white Gel fingernail polish for stamped logos.  I found that this material is far more durable and easier to buff around than White out or white acrylic model paint

Original Article continues:

As a collector of the British made Rhodesian pipe, GBD’s iconic 9438 shape is one of my favorites and I’ve been fortunate to have found several different grades. This “Jameson’s” stamped 9438 was on eBay recently and I was surprised that it didn’t garner much attention.

Not much is known about the Jameson’s make. Pipepedia has it listed as a possible GBD second, named after famed GBD carver Horrace “Horry” Jameson. Lately a few Jameson’s boxes have popped up on eBay, prompting this thread in the British Pipes section of the PipesMagazine.com forums:


The Jameson’s box is shown below. Several have been packaged with a yellow, GBD pipe sock.



Other than some light oxidation and tar build-up on the rim, the pipe looked to be in very good condition.

Jameson's 9438_Before

Jameson's 9438_Before (1)

Jameson's 9438_Before (2)

Jameson's 9438_Before (3)

Jameson's 9438_Before (4)

There was almost no cake in the bowl, so I sanded it smooth with some 2000 grit paper. The bowl as soaked with alcohol and sea salt. While the bowl was soaking, I put a dab of grease on the “J” stem logo and soaked it in mild Oxy-Clean solution

Jameson's 9438_Before (5)

Once the soak was completed, I scrubbed the shank interior with a small bristle brush dipped in alcohol. I removed the tars from the bowl top with a cloth dipped in the Oxy-Clean solution, and then polished it with a worn piece of 12000 grit micromesh. The polished bowl top on a blasted bowl is reminiscent of the GBD “Prehistoric” finish and it is a favorite detail on those pipes.

The oxidation was removed with some 600 grit wet paper, then 1500 and 2000 grade wet papers. Next up was the 8000 and 12000 grade micromesh sheets. This work was completed with the stem mounted on the briar. I used the thin edge of a popsicle stick to work the micromesh around the stamped “J” logo.
The stem was then buffed with white diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish.

The briar isn’t as nicely finished as a Prehistoric grade GBD and the bead rings are not consistent around the bowl. However the stem work is very good, and has a quality feel. The inner shank that fits the tenon is nicely beveled and stem fitment is excellent.

I’m happy to add this unique 9438 to my collection.

Jameson's 9438_Finished (3)

Jameson's 9438_Finished (2)


Jameson's 9438_Finished (4)


Restoring a Sydney P. Ram Oom Paul

Blog by Steve Laug

I just finished refurbishing a beautiful Oom Paul that is stamped left side of the shank Sydney P. Ram in script. On the right side it is stamped Imported Briar over 3172/VD. When it arrived to my work table it had a few issues that needed to be addressed. The rim was damaged on the right front outer edge from what looked like being knocked against something. The inner edge on the front had a burned area from a lighter. The briar was unstained, natural but looked dry, lifeless and dirty. The bowl was barely smoked the top 2/3s of the bowl was darkened and had some particles of tobacco stuck to the bowl sides. The bottom 1/3 of the bowl was still raw briar. The airway was quite large at the bottom of the bowl but was well drilled and centered on the back side of the bowl at the bottom. The stem would not sit all the way in the mortise and was very tight. The mortise was far dirtier than the bowl. It had a buildup of tars and oils that had prevented the tenon from seating properly in the mortise. The stem itself was not only oxidized but had stains that ran the length of the underside. The airway was plugged. The slot in the button was plugged and was very narrow so that getting even a paper clip into the slot took a lot of effort.F1



F4 I took the stem off the pipe and used an unfolded paperclip to open up the clogged airway. It took some work but I was able to open it back up. The slot in the button was so small that a normal pipe cleaner was hard to push through. Once it was done the clog came out and was pipe cleaner detritus and tars.F5

F6 I put the stem in an Oxyclean bath to soak while I worked on the bowl.F7 The damage to the outer rim of the bowl needed to be addressed. I was able to stem the flat surface and lift some dents but the outer edge dents were actually cuts and they did not move. I decided to top the bowl lightly to remove the damage to the edges – both the outer right front and the inner front burned area. I set up a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and took down the top until the damage was minimized. I then sanded the outer edge with a medium grit sanding block to dull the sharp edge slightly. I worked on the inner rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to bevel the edge slightly and minimize the damage from the burned area.F8





F13 With the rim top cleaned and repaired I worked on the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of sandpaper. I beveled the inner rim edge inward to compensate for the burned area on the front of the bowl. Then I washed down the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads to remove the wax and the grime on the briar. I scrubbed the inside of the bowl with cotton swabs and alcohol to clean up the debris in the bowl and the dust from sanding. I cleaned out the shank and mortise with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the cotton swabs came out clean and the mortise was clean to sight. I followed up that by sanding the rim with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge and then with 1500-12,000 grit micromesh to polish it. The beauty of working with natural briar finishes is that when a bowl is topped it is not hard to match and blend into the finish of the bowl.F14

F15 I steamed the front, bottom and sides of the bowl where there were many small dents and nicks. I heated a table knife over the gas flame on our stove, folded a wet cloth and placed it over the dents and then touched the hot blade of the knife to the wet cloth. This created steam with which I was able to lift many of the dents and nicks. While most of them were gone there were others that remained that were reduced noticeably.F16


F18 When I finished the steaming of the dents I rubbed down the bowl with a light coat of olive oil to give life to the briar. I buffed it on the wheel with Blue Diamond polish and gave it several coats of carnauba wax to protect and finish it. Once the stem was completed I would buff it again and then apply more wax to the pipe.F19




F23 While the stem was soaking I set the finished bowl aside and did a bit of research on the Ram brand. It was one which I had read about on the forums and had seen on eBay but not a brand I knew anything about. I googled the name and found quite a bit of information on the different pipe forums and on Pipedia.http://pipedia.org/wiki/Ram%27s_Horn.Here is a summary of what I found.

“Sydney P. Ram was a pipe maker in the 1930’s and reported to have retired in 1942. Ram’s shop was at 59 West Monroe in Chicago’s Loop. His pipes were normally simply stamped Sydney P. Ram in script. He was also the author of a book on pipe smoking in 1941 called How to get more fun out of smoking; a guide and handbook for better smoking and is sometimes available on Amazon, having been reprinted in 2011.”

I contacted Ken Prevo who was mentioned later in the Pipedia article as we have corresponded on the various pipe forums that we both frequent. I asked his permission to post a copy of the 16 page catalog from the shop era that was referenced in the article. He graciously responded that I could post it here on rebornpipes in high resolution. I have done so here: https://rebornpipes.com/2015/05/22/are-you-getting-the-most-out-of-your-smoking-a-pipe-catalogue-from-the-sydney-p-ram-pipe-shop/

Ken welcomes those interested in viewing or downloading a copy of the catalogue to do so from his Dropbox at this link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dao82dnm8tw3y0i/XIdMElvkbk.

Ken reported that recently, in 2013, New Old Stock has shown up with the pipes being sold from California, which may have been where Ram relocated the shop after the war, or it could have been retained inventory on closing the Chicago store and retiring.

The catalog states that all pipes are either Algerian or Corsican Briar. The pipes being sold are light but color to deep brown very rapidly. Ken has not seen similar treatment. The catalog shows pipe prices ranging from $1.75 to $7.50. (Factory workers in the era made around $40/wk at the time). They are stamped either straight grain or imported briar. The catalog also indicates the shop did its own blending and had onsite repair.

I took the stem out of the Oxyclean bath and rubbed it dry with a coarse cotton cloth. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation that was still left and the residue that was hardened in spots on the underside of the stem.F24



F27 I worked on opening the slot in the button. I used a combination of needle files to open the slot. I began with a flat blade file to widen the slot on the top and bottom. This is tedious work but it pays off dividends in the end. Once I had that area more open I worked on the sides of the slot with a flat oval file to create a Y shape in the slot. I then used a fat oval and a round needle file to open the slot further and round out the ends of the slot. When the filing was completed I folded a piece of sandpaper and worked on sanding the inside of the slot smooth and removing all of the file marks.F28





F33 When I finished opening the slot I sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to reduce the scratches on the vulcanite.F34



F37 By this time with the slot opened and the oxidation pretty well cleaned up it was ready to be polished with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil.F38

F39 I buffed the stem with red Tripoli to further remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. I took it back to the worktable and put it in the shank and took some photos.F40



F43 I removed it from the shank and dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh and rubbed it down again with Obsidian Oil before finishing with 6000-12,000 grit pads to bring the final shine out on the vulcanite.F44

F45 I buffed the stem with White Diamond and then with Blue Diamond Plastic polish on the buffing wheel.F46



F49 I took it back to the worktable and rubbed it down with some Briar Wipe before taking it back to the buffer for some carnauba wax. I buffed with several coats of carnauba and finished by buffing it with a clean, soft flannel buff. The dry buff raises the shine on the bowl. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below.F50




F54 Thanks for looking. Be sure to check out the link above to the Sydney Ram Catalogue that I posted on rebornpipes.

What are the options for repairing a damaged stem?

Blog by Steve Laug

Over the years that I have been working on pipe restoration I have found that when working on badly damaged stems I have 4 basic choices on how to deal with the damage. They are stated in the form of a simple list below but each one will have to be detailed out to understand the implications of the choice.
1. Cut it off
2. Build it up
3. Splice it
4. Replace it

Choice #1 – Cut it off

This sounds pretty brutal but it really is a pretty easy repair to work on the chewed stem. I generally see how far back I have to go to get enough stem material on the top and bottom of the stem to shape a new button. Once I have a pretty clear idea of that I put a piece of cellophane tape on the stem to get an idea of how it will look with that bit of stem removed. Sometimes the new stem length just does not work. If it is too short it is awkward. If not then it can be reworked and still look acceptable. I have even cut back badly broken billiard stems and crafted a Lovat shaped pipe that looked really good. The decision is yours and cannot be reversed without making a new stem for the pipe.

The process is quite simple. Once I have marked the part of the stem I plan to remove I use a Dremel with a sanding drum to remove the damaged portion. It works quite quickly. The only caution is to keep the line straight as you are removing the broken part of the stem. This line is not only the horizontal one across the surface of the stem but also the vertical one looking at the pipe from the end. Others use a coping saw or hacksaw to remove the broken area. I prefer a Dremel. With the end removed the stem is ready for reshaping. I use needle files to cut a new button on the stem. I do that by filing a straight line across the top and bottom of the stem making sure that they align.Broken1


Broken3 Once the new button line is in place I use a flat needle file to file back the slope of the stem to the button line. I am careful not to go to deep but judge depth by the amount of material above the opening in the stem end. Once I have the slope set and the button more defined I use the flat needle file to clean up and define the edge of the button. I want a good sharp edge on the inside of the button to catch behind the teeth. I use 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the slope and smooth out the file marks.Broken4

Broken5 When I get the stem shaped the way I want it I then move on to the shaping of the button. I like a button that is shaped like an oval that tapers outward to the edges on both sides. I sand and file and file and sand to shape it. When I have the shape correct I also slope the button backward toward the airway on the stem end. I generally am working the button to look as much as possible like the one that was originally on the stem. I use pictures of the stem from the internet or from the camera that I took to get the look just right.Broken6 After the button is shaped I work on the airway in the end of the button. I want it to be a slot. I use the needle files to open the airway. I flair it from the opening like a Y. The idea is to create an opening that is funnel shaped. I start with a flat file and work toward a round and an oval needle file I shape the ends of the slot to match the shape of the button as much as possible. When I finally have the slot open I fold a piece of sandpaper and work on the inside of the slot to smooth out the file marks.Broken7


Broken9 I finish by sanding the stem with micromesh sanding pads and polishing it to give it a shine. Here are some photos of the finished stem.Broken10

Choice #2 – Build it up

I have used this method quite a bit with variations. I have used it repair bite marks and bite throughs on stem. The basic procedure is to clean up the affected area on the stem with alcohol and sandpaper to prepare it for the buildup. I leave the area slightly roughened to give the repair something to grab on to. Once all loose debris, sanding dust and oxidation is removed you are ready to begin the patch. The stem I am using to illustrate the process had holes on both sides of the stem and both were large. Alongside both sides there were also many tooth dents that needed to be addressed as well. In this case those dents would provide a strong base for what would be a large patch.Broken12

Broken13 I grease a piece of folded paper or a nail file with Vaseline and insert it into the slot on the stem. I want to have a slick base for the glue to sit against but not fasten to. I also do not want to close off the airway and this method has worked well for me for many years.Broken14

Broken15 With the folded paper inserted it is time to begin to build up the repair. I use medium viscosity black super glue that I get from Stewart MacDonald online. I build up the edges of the repair first. Some folks will use an accelerator at this point to speed up the process. I have also done so but find that the glue is more brittle and I have had patches fail after using it. So I have learned to “patiently” wait for the glue to harden. Others mix in fine charcoal powder or grit with the superglue and feel that it gives a stronger patch. I have done that as well but did not choose to use that on this stem repair.Broken16

Broken17 As the first layer of glue dried I continued to build the patch inward to the middle and thicken it as well. The process took several days and included at least four layers of glue.Broken18

Broken19 Once the last layer of the patch was finished I set the pipe aside to cure for several days. When it was dry I sanded it with 180 grit sandpaper and then 220 grit sandpaper to level out the patch and the surrounding stem.Broken20

Broken21 I used needle files to sharpen and define the edge of the button. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. The patches show up still in the surface of the stem as a slightly different colour but once the stem is sanded with micromesh they begin to disappear.Broken22



Broken25 The finished stem looks like new.Broken26

Choice #3 – Splice it

On the blog, Jacek Rochacki has written of splicing a repair and reshaping the stem. I am inserting his procedure at this point to explain the choice he uses.
Instead of cutting/removing the damaged part and carving the lip/button of what is left, I would proceed in different way. Keeping in mind my wish of keeping original dimension, proportions, form, I would try to reconstruct damaged stem/mouthpiece as following:

By using sharp cutting tools – engravers/burins, scrapers or in case of better equipped “workshop corner” – cutters, like those used by jewelers for stone settings, or even a sharp pocket knife, a frame saw and needle files I would work on the damaged area making it a proper shape a piece of the same material carved that I will later shape/carve to fit what is missing. The words “making it of proper shape”, may be a subject for another longer text. But as sort of inspiration may be the different ways dentists use to “elaborate” holes in teeth so that the filling will be kept securely in place. In a stem the situation is easier as we have good binding glues and are binding together the same kind of materials – vulcanite/ebonite to vulcanite/ebonite.

When the newly carved material is fixed into the missing area with glue, I work with files and drill bits to achieve desired missing shape. Then I proceed with finishing techniques. Let us look at the pictures:Broken28


Broken30 Others have actually cut off the broken portion of the stem after matching it to a similar style and shaped stem. The also cut off the replacement stem so that the undamaged areas match perfectly. A small stainless steel tube can be used to join the two pieces of stem together and black superglue can be used to hold it together and to fill in the joint of the two stems. Once the glue has cured then the repair can be sanded and blended together so that it does not show at all.

Choice #4 – Replace it

The fourth option is to fit a replacement stem on the pipe or make one from vulcanite or Lucite rod stock. I do not have a lathe so I usually use precast stems and do a lot of shaping and fitting and improvements on the blank. The photos below show a new stem that I fit to a Lovat pipe for a friend. I used an old saddle stem that I had here so I did not need to use a precast one. This one just needed adjustment and fiddling to make it work well.
The original stem had a large bite out of the end of it the underside next to the button.Broken31 I choose a stem that is similar in shape and style that was the same length. It had a slightly larger saddle portion on the stem but I liked the look of it and figured it would work. I turned the tenon down slightly to make for a snug fit in the mortise.Broken32 In this case I sanded the stem down to remove the oxidation from the surface and also to remove the slight tooth marks and tooth chatter that was there.Broken33

Broken34 After sanding with the 220 grit sandpaper I used a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to clean up the stem further and remove scratches.Broken35

Broken36 I sand the finished stem with micromesh sanding pads to polish it.Broken37 After sanding with the 12000 grit pads I buffed it with Blue Diamond Plastic Polish and then with carnauba wax and a soft flannel buffing pad. The finished stem is shown below.Broken38


Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Smoking?…a pipe catalogue from the Sydney P. Ram Pipe Shop

I am currently refurbishing an older 30-40s era Oom Paul that bears the stamping Sydney P. Ram. I had heard of the brand but knew next to nothing about it so I went on my normal sites and found a public domain catalogue for the shop that gave a lot of history. I thought I would share the catalogue with all of you. For me these old catalogues from an earlier time always are delightful to read and remind me of some of old pipe shops that I have enjoyed throughout my life.


Pg 2

Pg 3

Pg 4

Pg 5

Pg 6

Pg 7

Pg 8

Pg 9

Pg 10

Pg 11

Pg 12

Pg 13

Pg 14

Pg 15

Pg 16

Doing an interior shank repair and restemming a KBB Yello Bole Lovat

Blog by Troy Wilburn

I got this pipe from a member of Dr. Grabows Collector Forum, John McP. He hails from across the pond in Scotland. He had contacted me about a old KBB Yello Bole pipe that he had picked up that did not have a stem and wanted to know a little about it and what kind of stem it originally had. He also informed me it had an old repair of a cracked shank.

It is stamped 2079 and had the “Honey Cured Briar” under the KBB Yello Bole, which made it a pre 1936 model. I then checked my Kaywoodie charts. It’s a large bowl, long shank Lovat saddle bit. Even though the KW shape charts call it a Canadian I don’t think so because of its round shank. I’ll never consider a round shank as a Canadian.K1 I informed him that it was a nice pipe and should be a good smoker once cleaned up and a replacement stem found. Unfortunately for John the old repair was not a good one and it had made the shank weak. When John tried to fit some stems to it, a piece broke out of the shank. He asked me if I wanted it free of charge as he did not want to tackle repairing the pipe.

The pipe as John showed me before he sent it.K2 I agreed that I would see what I could do with it. Well after over a month in the mail it finally arrived and I got a good look at it and found a donor saddle bit from another Yello Bole.K3

K4 The bowl had some black scorch marks from smoking hot.K5 I was going to get this pipe blasted after repairs to help hide them and cover some dark burn marks on the bowl. After much thought I decided to restore it close as factory as I could. The possible history of this pipe was just too good to alter it. In the short time of my possession of this pipe it had already been half way around the globe. That’s just a fraction of the long life that this pipe has had over it’s at least 80-year-old life. Maybe it was taken over by an allied soldier and left behind as a gift of friendship? Maybe it was carried by an OSS agent behind German lines during the war? Maybe not but its fun to think of the possibilities.

So all the sand pits and small fills were left as is and not covered or filled. After all it’s a Yello Bole if it did not have these imperfections it would have been a Kaywoodie. The old war horse has some scars from repairs and wear. The stamping’s are quite worn but it’s a pipe someone had thought enough of to repair it once before. Hopefully it has many more years left in it.

I decided to do an inner band like Steve did on a YB I sent him for repair. I found an old metal tenon from a Grabow filter stem I had.K6 I filed out the inner shank and broken shank piece to clean up and to give the glue something to grab too.K7 After grinding the metal tenon to fit inside the shank. I cleaned up the shank and broken piece with some 91% alcohol and marked the best way it fit with a black sharpie so I know where to place it when glued.K8 I mixed up some two part epoxy and then set the inner band in the shank.K9 After it set up I got ready for the broken piece and cleaned off the Sharpie from the metal band to ensure a good bond. I put two part epoxy on the metal band then super glue on the briar edges and set the broken piece. Then I applied briar dust before the glue set. I had to work fast so no pics during this process, only before and after.K10


K12 I then sanded the repairs; the old repair had a bad high spot and took some filing.K13 I had to build up the bottom from making the old repair flush again. It was a bit lower than the stem.K14 I then filed the stem to match the shank.K15 After cleaning out the shank and bowl I noticed that all the old YB coating was gone from wear or scraped out over time. I decided to remove all the cake and address this later.K16 I then stripped off the old finish with warm water and Oxy Clean bath. I did some light scrubbing with a toothbrush and a Scotch Brite pad used on the stubborn spots. I then wet sanded repairs and bowl with various grits of wet dry paper from 600 – 2500.K17 After this I wiped the pipe several times with household bleach to lighten the dark spots and repairs so it would be harder to spot with the dye.K18 After bleach bath the pipe is ready for dye.K19 I then mixed up some dye close to original stain but slightly darker to help cover the repairs and black marks. I applied three coats.K20 Pipe dry and ready for some base wax.K21 After applying three coats of wax to lock in the dye I mixed up some homemade Yello Bole bowl coating.K22 I applied the bowl coating and found a Yello Bole paper cover from a NOS pipe I have. The cover is from an Imperial but I thought it would look nice for the pictures.K23

K24 After several more coats of wax the pipe is done. First off the repairs are not perfect and I wish I could have gotten a tighter fit with the stem. This was my first inner banding so I didn’t get the band quite as square as I should have making the stem fitting a bit difficult .The more I tried to get a tight fit the more gap I would get on one side, so I settled for a uniform gap. I’ll know better next time and should get a better fit. Here are some pics of the finished repairs.

As Steve pointed out to me on the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum, if you flare the tube it will make it fit more squarely. I think showing your mistakes is as important as showing your successes for the next person trying to do a similar repair. So if you are doing an inner band repair soon I suggest you flare the end before you set it with epoxy.K25



K28 I did manage to save what little of the stamping’s were left.K29

K30 Pictures of whole completed pipe K31










K41 Even though this was a tough and time consuming refurbish it was quite fun and wish to thank John for sending me this old soldier to be used and enjoyed again.