Daily Archives: June 16, 2015

An Easy Restoration of a Bertram Grade 60 217 Poker


Blog by Troy Wilburn

I have been looking for a nice upper grade (Grade 50 or above) Bertram Poker for a while. I had almost purchased a couple of lower grades and one 50 grade but they were all either to expensive or pretty beat up, so I kept holding out for the right one. When this nice example of a 60 grade came across my path for a modest price I knew my patience had paid off.

This makes my 2nd Bertram pipe. The other being a straight Cutty and it is an excellent smoker. They are some of my highest end estate pipes. I very much like the quality of them and the long interesting history they have.

If you don’t know much about them I recommend doing a little research on them. Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. They graded their pipes by 10s, the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I’ve never heard of or seen a 100 grade. Here is a link with some brief history of Bertram pipes on Pipedia.

I found this image of from a page of a Bertram pipe booklet that shows the poker shape number of 217.
http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram Bertram1 This is what the pipe looked like when I received it. Other than being dirty it’s in excellent shape. It’s hard to put a date on it but it’s at least from the 70s and maybe as far back as 40s or more. Bertram started in 1927.Bertram2

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Bertram5 I started by cleaning out the bowl and shank. The cake came out very easily and the cleaning was not that difficult.Bertram6 I then cleaned and stripped off old wax and rim residue with Oxy Clean, warm water, cotton balls and a Scotch Brite pad on the rim.Bertram7 I then wet sanded the bowl with mineral oil and 1200 to 2500 grit sandpaper.Bertram8 After soaking the stem for a couple of hours in Oxy Clean and warm water I scrubbed off all the surface oxidation with a Scotch Brite pad.Bertram9 I had a couple of small tooth marks to file out.Bertram10 Then I wet sanded the stem with 400-2500 grit paper.Bertram11 The stem was fitting rather tight so I applied some bee’s wax to the tenon.Bertram12 The bowl and stem back together with a mineral oil applied and wiped off for a quick inspection before buffing.Bertram13 I gave it a quick buff with some brown Tripoli before applying some white Tripoli then many coats of carnauba wax.Bertram14 After applying wax and finished pipe.Bertram15

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Bertram21 There was one small flaw in the briar. I decided to leave it as is.Bertram22 Very nice stampings on pipe.Bertram23

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Bertram26 All in all it was a very simple refurbish due to its condition. I’m very happy with the way it turned out and have intentions of adding at least one more Bertram to my collection. Hopefully a large straight billiard.

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Repairing a Hole in a Briar Bird Pipe Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

Last evening a fellow pipeman stopped by with a few pipes for me to look at and see if I wanted to do the work on them. Several of them were in need of general clean up. But two of them had a fairly large hole in the surface of the stem about ½ inch from the button. The first of them was a little Briar Bird Nosewarmer with an amber coloured acrylic stem. This hole was the smaller of the two. I figured I could repair it for him. He also wanted me to do a general ream and clean on the pipe as well. The rim had some darkening and some charring on the inner edge that would need to be addressed.

I sanded around the hole with 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned the surface of the acrylic with a cotton pad and a little alcohol.Theo1 I reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer to take the cake back to almost nothing so that I could address the issues with the inner edge of the rim on the back side.Theo2

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Theo4 I do not have any amber cyanoacrylate glue so I used clear one instead. I greased two pipe cleaners with Vaseline and inserted them in the airway from each end as the airway was quite large. I then dripped the glue on the hole in several layers and coats to build it up and effectively patch the hole. I have found that the glue has an interesting effect on the acrylic when it is first added to the surface. The glue bubbles and hisses and there is a small puff of smoke/steam. When it dries it is a hard white surface. It does not seem to damage the stem as once it is sanded off it is unnoticeable. But it is something that gives you a little bit of a scare the first time it happens.Theo5 Once the glue patch had dried the work of sanding could begin in earnest. The glue dries very hard on the acrylic. It seems to be much harder than with vulcanite. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to flatten the patch and begin smoothing it out with the surface of the stem.Theo6

Theo7 Once I had flattened the patch and blended it with the 220 grit sandpaper I moved on to sand it with a medium and then a fine grit sanding sponge. When I had finished with the sanding sponges the repair looked quite good as can be seen in the next two photos below.Theo8

Theo9 I went on to polish the stem and the patch with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads.Theo10

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Theo12 The photo below shows a close-up of the repair to the stem surface. While it is not amber it is a hard clear patch that picks up some of the colour from the airway below.Theo13 When I finished I buffed it with Blue Diamond plastic polish on the buffing wheel to raise the shine and polish it.Theo14 I scrubbed the rim with Magic Eraser to clean up as much of the darkening as possible. I also beveled the inner edge of the rim to minimize the damage there. I used 220 grit sandpaper folded and held at an angle to do the beveling and then smoothed out the sanding with a micromesh pad.Theo15 The finished pipe is shown below. I buffed it lightly with carnauba to give it a shine and then buffed it with a clean, soft flannel pad to polish it. The patch on the stem, while not exactly beautiful, effectively solves the issue with the hole in the stem surface. While I was at it I used a needle file to clean up the slot in the end of the button to give it more of a Y taper.Theo16

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