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. 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. 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.
The bowl had some black scorch marks from smoking hot. 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. I filed out the inner shank and broken shank piece to clean up and to give the glue something to grab too. 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. I mixed up some two part epoxy and then set the inner band in the shank. 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.
I then sanded the repairs; the old repair had a bad high spot and took some filing. I had to build up the bottom from making the old repair flush again. It was a bit lower than the stem. I then filed the stem to match the shank. 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. 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. 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. After bleach bath the pipe is ready for dye. 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. Pipe dry and ready for some base wax. After applying three coats of wax to lock in the dye I mixed up some homemade Yello Bole bowl coating. 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.
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.