Daily Archives: July 23, 2015

Rejuvenating an American Bentley Apple

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

“I don’t want to be pretty. I want to be better. I want to be perfect.”
― Kimber Henry (Kelly Carlson), in “Nip/Tuck,” Season 1, Ep. 1

A nip and tuck is a minor plastic surgery procedure. “Nip/Tuck” (FX channel, 2003-2010) is a racy drama/dark comedy about the realities and sometimes horrors of the cosmetic surgery profession, with some truly grisly moments. Although this restoration involved only normal and accepted methods of pipe fixing, some of them resulted in drastic improvements of the U.S. Bentley apple that needed a full makeover. And so I flashed back on the bawdy TV series.

I bought the pipe on eBay for $6 when I tracked down its nomenclature that identified it as a Kaywoodie second. The seller, who is more into oddball collectibles than tobacco pipes and therefore knows nothing about the latter, had sold me a genuine white briar Kaywoodie 12B bulldog for $10.00, but then had the unfortunate duty to inform me he lost it somewhere in the clutter of his home. He promptly refunded my payment and assured me that both he and his wife would continue searching for the misplaced bulldog and forward it to me free of charge when it was located.

Why I chose to give this fellow a second chance is anyone’s guess, but it paid off. Both the Bentley and the full Kaywoodie white bulldog arrived soon after in the same package. Grateful for my business and true to his word, the seller charged me only for the Bentley. It just goes to show there are good folks everywhere, even some in Ohio who don’t enjoy or collect smoking pipes. Appreciating the excellent fortune I had in acquiring these two pipes for the normal shipping fee of one, I nevertheless suggested that the good gentleman in the Midwest begin checking the pipes he stumbled upon now and then at http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/index-en.html, or at least a browser search, before choosing such low prices. However, his response indicated he hadn’t a clue what I meant. Sadly, I had to let the urge to be helpful go, and look forward to taking advantage of his generosity more and more in the future.
When I opened the box in my car outside of my Post Office and saw the white briar bulldog first, I smiled as I turned it in my hands and concluded a little work would make it whole and vital once more.Bentley1 Then my attention turned to the Bentley, and I laughed hard enough to draw attention from the occupants of the car next to mine. The chamber was so full of built-up cake, in such a uniform circle leaving only a virtual pinpoint of space to load tobacco, that I ignored the other Postal customers and continued guffawing. So amused and excited was I by the challenge of restoring the Bentley, I had to resist the impulse to get out of my car and show it to the complete strangers next to me.




Bentley5 This one was going to take some work, to be sure. The chamber – well, I needed to think about how even to start that. The rim, I knew, would be no problem. The bit was slightly off its mark when tightened. The old polish and stain was worn away in areas, in particular the sides. And of course, there were scratches everywhere. All in all, I was exhilarated.

Having decided to bore my way through the huge blockade of years of determined and, I must admit, evenly-executed accretion of chamber char in increments, I chose a 17mm fixed reamer and went at it. With just enough room at the top to insert the reamer – I was even grateful the single user of the pipe had somewhat obsessively filled it to the same exact point about an eighth of an inch below the rim – I slowly cranked away, emptying the carbon dust and checking the progress as I moved deeper. I used to document the height of the pile of carbon with each restoration, but I gave up on that long ago. Suffice it to say there would have been a small hill of it in this case. Just getting to the bottom took about a half-hour. Here are pictures of the halfway point and the first strike of gold at the bottom.Bentley6 I gave the bit, which was in pretty good shape, an OxiClean wash, for the most part to help clean out what had to be an ugly mess of ignored old saliva and tobacco juice.Bentley7 While the bath was doing its magic, I sanded off all of the old wax and stain using 500-grit paper and took off the rim char with super fine steel wool.Bentley8


Bentley10 Removing the bit from the wash, I rinsed it and tried micromesh from 1500-4000, but there was still a small area on both sides of the lip end that needed more attention with 320-grit paper, then another progression of the micromesh.Bentley11

Bentley12 I worked on the briar with a micromesh progression from 1500-4000, as usual, and it did the trick for most of the outer area. I also used 200-grit paper followed by 320 and 500 on the chamber to smooth it out.Bentley13


Bentley15 Clearly, the sides and rim still had small scratches, and so I used 800 micromesh to remove those blemishes before working my way up the scale again.

The stem was off just a tad. I heated the tenon with my Bic, threw a small rag over it and used clamped the pliers down. I had to use all of my might to make it budge, but it was straight. Below are the before and after shots, which are barely different.Bentley16 After a pre-scrub of the shank with wire cleaners dipped in Everclear, which removed quite a bit of nasty old gunk, I retorted the pipe. Then I chose, after careful consideration of whether or not to let it go with the natural finish, to darken the wood just a little using Lincoln Medium Brown stain, which is lighter than the regular brown, and flamed it.Bentley17 A gentle rub with 4000 micromesh took off the char, and I rubbed it with a soft cotton cloth.Bentley18


Bentley20 Time for the buffer wheels, I applied red and white Tripoli to the stem, using the clean wheel after each. I did the same to the wood, adding White Diamond and carnauba.Bentley21


Bentley23 And this time I remembered not to over-do the sanding on the nomenclature.

Some say pride is a sin, but I am happy with the results. After all of that work, I’d love to keep this beautiful, elegant Bentley apple. But I’m going to have to sell her. Oh, well. My P.A.D. is so bad, I’m sure I’ll find something else to keep – like the Kaywoodie 12B bulldog.

Restoring a Dr. Grabow Viscount 39 Continental

Blog by Steve Laug

I was gifted this beautifully grained Grabow Viscount Shape 39 in a box of pipes that needed to be reconditioned and repaired. It was a shape that I had seen pictures of but I had never seen one in person. Holding it in hand led me to have a few questions regarding it. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Viscount over Dr. Grabow and on the right side 39 near the shank and then Imported Briar over Adjustomatic over Pat.2461905. I posted the questions and some photos of the pipe on the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum as I have found the folks there to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable about all things Grabow.

Here are the questions:
1. Any idea on the dates of this one.
2. The rim top has ridges but I am not sure if they are scratches or original. They are in no particular pattern and the rest of the bowl is smooth. Did this shape have a rusticated rim?
3. Did it have the Grabow scoop stinger as it is missing in this one?
4. The Grabow spade on the stem is raised above the surface. Was this normal? I have not seen it before.

I concluded my questions with a short comment on the pipe. The briar is amazing – birdseye on the sides and cross grain on the front and back of the bowl.

The pipe needed some work as can be seen from the above questions. The stem was rough. It was oxidized and had been scraped clean with a knife or other tool and left ridges and scratches all over the stem. It gave it a striped look. The rim had a hatched rustic pattern on it and had probably fallen prey to the same knife wielding owner. The finish was actually quite good underneath the dirt and sticky spots that may have come from price tags on the bowl or labels. I was surprised that it did not have any lacquer or varnish coat over the briar. It was just stained briar and would be quite easy to clean up.Cont1



Cont4 It was not long before I got a reply from Ted over on the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum. He answered all of the questions that I had regarding this particular pipe and did them in reverse order. Here is his reply.

Yes, The grain is great. A fine example.

4) Spade on the stem has raised over time. It was flush when it left the factory. Even if it comes out (unlikely) it is a relatively easy fix. Joe and Ed have bunches of spades that they picked up off the factory floor.

3) It had the scoop (72B) cleaner. Unfortunately I don’t have any left. Someone will get you one.

2) Rim scratches weren’t there when it left the factory. Someone cleaned the top a little too vigorously.

1) This is fun…… The Continentals started in 1959/60 and their heyday was 1964-1966. Almost none were produced after 1967 because the sales just weren’t there. Shape stamped with a vulcanite stem makes me believe it was made in 66/67. I can’t speculate as to when it was sold… just made.

Here are some close up photos of the rim and the grain on this beautiful little pipe.Cont5


Cont7 Troy Wilburn sent me some catalogue photos of the Continental Line. There are some unique and interesting shapes. I thought you might enjoy seeing the photos.Cont8



Cont11 I did a light reaming of the bowl with a sharp pen knife being careful to keep it vertical and not damage the inner edge of the rim.Cont12 I scrubbed the bowl, shank and stem airway with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. These metal mortise inserts collect a lot of “gunk” behind them and it takes some work to remove all of the debris and oils from the shank.Cont13 I scrubbed down the exterior of the briar with isopropyl alcohol to remove the sticky areas and also the general grime that was built up on the bowl and shank.Cont14


Cont16 I lightly sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and also a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to loosen the oxidation. Then I dropped it in a bath of warm Oxy Clean to soften and bring the oxidation to the surface.Cont17


Cont19 While the stem soaked I worked on the scratches and hatch work on the rim surface. It was not only dirty but it looked like someone had scraped off the tars with a knife and left a rough hatch pattern all over the surface of the rim. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches and smooth it out once again. I then sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to reduce the scratches left behind by the sandpaper.Cont20

Cont21 I sanded the rim down with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then dry sanding with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol once more to remove the dust and sanding grit.Cont22



Cont25 Troy mentioned that these older Continentals were not stained but general just had a light oil coat on the natural briar. It appeared that this was true on this old pipe but the patina that had developed over the years since 1966-67 had darkened the briar. I used a medium brown stain pen to touch up the rim as it matched the patina exactly.Cont26 I took the stem out of the bath and dried it off with a coarse cotton cloth. The oxidation was greatly reduced and the stem was ready to work on.Cont27

Cont28 I put a plastic washer between the stem and the shank and sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and the sanding sponges to remove the hard to get oxidation at that point.Cont29 I took the stem off again and finished sanding with the sandpaper and sanding sponges.Cont30 Then it was time to work on the polish of the stem. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and repeated the oil. I finished with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave the stem a final coat of oil and when it dried buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel.Cont31


Cont33 I gave the entire pipe a light buff with Blue Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff to raise the shine. I took it back to the work table and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to bring out a deeper shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It turned out to be a beautiful piece of briar and a unique looking pipe. The old briar is rich with colour and warmth.

I want to thank the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum and Ted of that Forum for their help on this pipe. I also want to thank Troy for the catalogue pages and for sending me the spoon stinger to insert to completely finish the restoration of the Continental. Thanks for looking.Cont34