Daily Archives: August 2, 2015

Restoring a Westbrook 36 – A Long & Detailed Explanation for New Refurbishers

Blog by Troy Wilburn

Troy originally wrote this simple step by step methodology for refurbishing pipes for the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum. Troy’s method is straight forward and he gives great photos to help along the way. I thought it might be helpful for those who are just starting in this hobby of ours. It also may give pause for thought to us who have been doing this for a long time. I firmly believe that there is always something new to be learned from each other as we work to restore old pipes and give them new life. Thanks Troy for this great how to piece. – Steve

I’ve had a few PMs by the newer member asking questions on refurbishing pipes. So I decided to make a more detailed way of what I do on refurbing pipes. Now this is what I prefer and what works for ME. Everyone has their own twist and preferred methods.

The first thing is to pick the right pipe. This to me is very important especially when doing your first pipes. You want one that’s inexpensive and an easy clean up. So ones with holes in stems and rims that look like they were used to hammer walnuts with might be ones to pass until you get a few under your belt. Not having to sand it a lot and restain is a plus.

Now we are not making a show pipe or restoring a rare pipe that you want to keep original. We are going to bang out a good clean pipe for smoking pleasure. I can do a pipe like this in good condition in 2 hours or less start to finish. This pipe will be smoked and smoked a lot so it doesn’t need to be so glossy you need to put sunglasses on to pick it up. Just a good dependable pipe for low cost. The lower the cost the more pipes you can get .

Ok so the pipe I picked is a good old trusty Westbrook Billiard, still a plentiful pipe, easy to refurbish and can be found cheap. They are good quality, tough as nails and extremely fine smokers.

I got this one for 5 dollars and with shipping; I got right under 10 dollars in this pipe. The seller wanted 9.99 but after watching it for a while I took advantage of the best offer and got it for the 5 bucks. It was in good shape from pictures with no stem damage and bowl not banged up. Once cleaned it will smoke just as good as any new pipe you can get today from 20-100+ dollars. I do like to drill out my pipe shanks a little larger diameter so that will help the smoking of it some.

OK now on to the pipe. This is a #36 Westbrook Double Carved coupon pipe.

Before…. The pipe is dirty and has plenty of cake in bowl.Grabow1



Grabow4 The refurbish
Not getting too detailed about how to clean out bowl. All you need if you don’t have a reamer is a dull pocket knife and some coarse sandpaper. I used to use salt baths and or soak them overnight with cotton balls soaked in alcohol (91%), but is not necessary if you do the way I’m going to show you. Be careful not to get over zealous in this as you don’t want to dig gouges in the inner walls of pipe. Just light scrapes to get out biggest part of cake. Most of the time the heavy build up pops right out. After this just roll up your coarse sandpaper in a tight funnel shape and work it up and down and around in bowl. Check progress often as to not take out too much of inner bowl.

Bowl cleaned to right amount and cake removed. Leave a thin coat still in bowl.Grabow5


Grabow7 Cleaning out shank and stem. My advice is to buy a few of those shank brushes as they will save you a small fortune in pipe cleaners.Grabow8 Soak stem and bowl in some 91 % ISO (if it’s a smooth and you want to save finish then don’t soak bowl just clean it with a Scotch Brite pad with 91% very lightly). With these Westbrook double carved you don’t have to worry about as you can just buff them with no staining and they will look fine. Plus I like to soak the bowls on these deep carving to get rid of years of handling with someone else hands. It’s hard to tell what has accumulated in the recess of them carving over the years. Run the shank brush through the shank and stem until (soaked in 91%) until it stops coming out black and gunky.Grabow9 Rinse out the bowl while it is soaking and a good brushing with an old tooth brush over everything including inside bowl. Also rub the bowl with a Scotch Brite pad as it will take off old wax and grime but not so rough you have to sand behind it. After this is done just keep running pipe cleaners in shank and stem with clean ISO until they are coming out clean. I use a combination of the coarse cleaners and regular pipe cleaners. After a good brushing with shank brushes it shouldn’t take too many.

After this I usually place stem in oxy clean and warm water (about half to full scoop that provided in container) and let soak for about 30-40 minutes. It can soak while I work on cleaning the stinger and Adjustomatic female shank.Grabow10 I put the old stinger in an old stem I have to help hold it after it soaked in ISO with bowl and stem. Take some 000 steel wool and just rub it briskly getting into every little part. Take a small screwdriver to use it to push it through the small air trench.Grabow11 Take some steel wool and make it into a long skinny shape.Grabow12 Run it up in shank a little way then take a small screwdriver and run it up alongside. Then twirl the bowl as it will screw the 000 into the threads. Then unscrew it, most of times it will come out but sometimes it will break apart and you will have to push it out with a cleaner or a stiff piece of wire. A small long screwdriver will work also.Grabow13

Grabow14 You might have to do this a couple of times to get it good and clean. Be sure to blow out all the fine pieces of steel wool afterwards.Grabow15 Now we can take the stem out of Oxy Clean bath.Grabow16 Take a Scotch Brite pad and dip into the oxy water and rub the stem. I know people say use Magic Erasers but to me this is much easier and cheaper. It’s a lot less rubbing and faster. Work smarter not harder is what I was taught :). Here it is half done, took maybe 5 seconds.Grabow17

Grabow18 All oxidation that oxy clean bought to the surface is scrubbed off now. Took like a minute.Grabow19 After the oxy bath I take clean water and wipe off bowl and stem with clean water and tooth brush or ISO 91%, your choice, to remove any residue left from the alcohol and oxy clean. I use water because it’s cheaper.Grabow20 Go ahead and run a few pipe cleaners through stem with ISO to remove any debris and residue left behind from oxy bath. The stem is ready for wet sanding. As this stem is in such good shape it won’t take long to wet sand. If it had tooth marks and or heavy scratches you need to sand it more of course. I’m going to use 400, 600, 800 and 1200 grit sandpaper. Any finer grit to me is overkill for this pipe as I said it’s a daily working pipe and not a show pipe. Sand it lightly with each grit of sandpaper, being careful not to over sand it and make it not register with the shank properly. Being ultra careful where the stem goes into the shank as not to take off too much material. As most all the oxidation has been removed it doesn’t need to be sanded too much as we are just trying to make it smooth. Just a few light strokes with the coarse paper is all you need then using the finer grit a little more will do the trick. I have a piece of an old shank that broke off a bowl to use as a holder for Adjustomatic stems. It makes holding them during sanding a lot easier.Grabow21 Ok the pipe bowl is cleaned and scrubbed and the stem sanded.Grabow22 At this point I like to rub the pipe down with Mineral Oil. Some like to use olive oil but Mineral oil is odorless and tasteless. It doesn’t have the danger of turning sour like a type of vegetable oil can. Plus it helps to bring out grain in wood.

Any defects and or oxidation (brown spots in stem) will show up and allow you the luxury of fixing it before you apply wax. I apply the oil with a cotton ball and take a tooth brush and get into all the recesses. It will also show you pretty much what the color of the pipe will look like after buff and wax.Grabow23


Grabow25 The photo below shows the pipe after the Mineral Oil has been wiped and dry, ready for buffing.Grabow26 I use a buffing wheel and compounds but I know some who read this do not have this. I will not get into this as it will take too long and I’m still learning myself. I used to do all hand buffing. At this point you can just apply hand coats of various waxes you can buy that come in paste form and it will look fine.

Well I hope this can be a help to anyone that wants to start refurbing their own pipes. It’s a lot of fun and can save you a lot of money. Dave Whitney also sells a book that I would suggest getting it is called “OLD BRIAR” and it is a book on restoring and trading estate pipes. It is available via Amazon for Kindle.

Here is after pics.Grabow27








Grabow35 After about a 24 hour rest to let the alcohol evaporate out it will be ready for smoking. This is my favorite combination for breaking in a refurbed pipe: 50% Carter Hall and 50% 5 Brothers. It will be build cake fast and burn out any reminisces of a ghost left behind. It is a strong burley combination and has a good nicotine hit so be warned.Grabow36 Now you don’t have to pick a Westbrook as this is just a guide to help you get started. But I would suggest starting on rusticated pipes as they seem to be an easier pipe to refurbish to me. You can always add your own twist to the pipes you do. Now on occasion a problem does pop up like a frozen Adjustomatic or a stuck stem etc…. That’s pretty rare occurrence from the pipes I’ve done. But if it happens, just post your questions here on the Dr. Grabow Collectors forum (or even here on rebornpipes for that matter). Help and advice is something our forum is not lacking in . Or you can just send me an email and I’ll help you best I can or send you in the right direction to someone who can.

Heritage Heirloom 02 Poker

Blog by Troy Wilburn

My latest addition to my American factory made poker collection is a Heritage Heirloom made by Kaywoodie. They were made during the 1960’s and production stopped in 1970. Heritage Heirlooms were Kaywoodie’s high end pipes headed up by an ex-Dunhill employee name Stephen Ogdon. Something like only 1 in over 300 pieces of briar was good enough to use in the Heritage Heirloom line. They used top of the line Para rubber on the stems and all briar was seasoned well, before being made into a pipe. Here is part of a brochure about it.heritage2_zps0d4dc760 Here is another part of the same brochure with the 02 poker shape shown.heritage4_zpsdc6295ef I purchased the Heritage Heirloom from a fellow member of the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum. The pictures I saw of it truly did not do it justice. When I got it in hand I was amazed at the excellent condition the pipe was in. Other than the stem being oxidized I could not see any issues at all with the pipe.Heritage3

Heritage4 The pipe was barely smoked and still had raw briar showing in the bowl. It looks as though someone stated breaking in the pipe with quarter bowl increments and stopped after the second bowl.Heritage5 The pipe needed very little work. There was not heavy tar to clean out of the stem or shank so just a light swab with a pipe cleaner was all that was needed. I soaked the stem in OxyClean then scrubbed the top layer of oxidation with a green pad and wiped the bowl down with a cotton ball damp with Dawn soap and warm water. I wiped it dry with a clean paper towel.Heritage6 I gave the stem a light sanding.Heritage7 Afterwards I gave the pipe a good wipe with mineral oil and wiped it dry with a clean cloth for the next step of a light buff and wax.Heritage8 Here is the finished pipe.Heritage9










Heritage19 I have smoked a full bowl out of it since I finished it and it’s a very fine smoking pipe that will only get better with some more seasoning and cake.Heritage20

A Very Simple Cleanup on a Dr. Grabow Regal Dublin

Blog by Steve Laug

This pipe came to me in a box of pipes that a friend brought by for me. He was getting rid of a bunch of the pipes that he no longer smoked and thought I might enjoy cleaning them up. This one is stamped on the left side Regal over Dr. Grabow and on the right side, Imported Briar over Adjustomatic over Pat. 2461206. When I took it out of the box it had a half stem. The rest of it had been broken off and it was about 1 ½ inches long. I took it off and put the bowl back in the box. I have no idea what I did with the old stem; I have looked for it for a while now as I wanted to pirate the Adjustomatic tenon from the stem. It will show up when I least expect it and I will deal with it then. Yesterday I took the bowl out of the box and was looking it over. It was in very decent shape. The finish was clean. There were some lighter marks on the back right outside edge of the rim but other than it was clean. There was no cake in the bowl. It was worth a little time to see what I could do with it.

I went through my can of stems and found a Dr. Grabow stem that was the proper diameter. It was in decent shape. There were tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem next to the button. The button itself had some tooth dents. There was some calcification on the surfaces as well. The tenon and stinger were black with tars and oils but would clean up easily enough. The only thing with this stem and tenon is that it was not an Adjustomatic stem but it would do.Dr1




Dr5 I cleaned out the shank and mortise with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. The shank was pretty clean and it did not take much to remove the little that was there. I removed the stinger and cleaned out the stem with alcohol. It too was not in to bad of shape on the inside. I cleaned the stinger and tenon with alcohol and 0000 steel wool.Dr6

Dr7 I heated the stem and raised the tooth dents as much as possible and then sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. One of the divots was a little too deep to raise so I filled it with a small batch of black super glue and sanded it smooth.Dr8

Dr9 I used a needle file to redefine the sharp edge of the button and make a clean line on both sides of the stem.Dr10 I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches from the vulcanite and then wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil.Dr11 I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then wiping down the stem with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads, gave it another coat of oil and then continued with 6000-12000 grit pads. Each successive grit of pad made the patch disappear and blend into the surface of the stem. I gave the stem a final rub down with Obsidian Oil and let it dry.Dr12


Dr14 I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff on the wheel and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth for a final deep shine. The following photos show the finish pipe. It should work well for many years to come. This one is for sale should anyone wish to add it to their rack. Email me and let me know.Dr15





Breathing New Life into a La Fond’s Vintage, Algerian Briar Reject Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

This old pipe came to me in a lot that was a gift from a friend and it was in very rough shape. The bowl covered in varnish and the rim had been used to hammer nails. There was not one smooth surface on the rim of the pipe. The outer edge of the bowl was very rough particular on the backside with chunks of briar missing. There were several fills on the bowl – on both sides that were missing and there were large deep scratches on the bottom of the bowl.LaFond1



LaFond4 I have included a close-up photo of the rim to show the extent of the damage.LaFond5 I also took some close-up photos of the stamping to give an idea of what that looks like. The shank is stamped on the right side with the words MADE IN FRANCE. On the left side it is stamped with a double line of XXXX’s. I interpret that as the stamping that a pipe company uses to declare a pipe a REJECT. Some of the English companies actually stamp the pipe reject while others X out the stamping. In this case I was able to read through the X’s and see that underneath it was stamped La Fond’s Vintage on the first line and below that it read Algerian Briar. There is not a shape number on the shank.LaFond6

LaFond7 I looked in Who Made That Pipe to see if I could find any information on the brand. The book listed that the brand was unknown but was English made. I looked on pipephil’s site, Pipes: Logos and Markings and found the listing below http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l1.html. The left side of the shank on the pipe I am working on is stamped identically to the one in the photo. The right side of mine says Made in France instead of Made in England. There is also no shape number on the one I have.LaFond8 I think that an educated guess can be made regarding the company behind this brand of pipe. Looking at the shape of the pipe and the shape number on the pipe in the photo it looks to me that the brand may well have been a sub brand of GBD. Certainly the 9436 shape number matches the same shape number that GBD stamped on that shape pipe.

As I have been doing lately, I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer to take the cake back to bare briar. I wanted to see if there was any significant damage to the inside walls of the bowl considering the damage everywhere else. After reaming I would need to sand the inside of the bowl as the cake was both crumbly in some places and hard and pitted in others.LaFOnd9


LaFond11 The rim damage made it necessary to top the bowl to remove as much of it as possible. I used the topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to do the work.LaFond12 I removed as much of the top of the rim as possible without changing the overall appearance of the pipe. I was able to remove the majority of the damage. There were still some missing chunks of briar on the back side of the bowl near the top edge that I would need to address in a different manner.LaFond13 I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the varnish coat that covered the bowl and shank. Fortunately it came off quite easily. At least they did not coat the bowl with urethane or some other modern plastic coat. I worked on the damaged areas and the missing fills to make sure that I was able to get the grit and grime out of the holes.LaFond14



LaFond17 I picked out any pieces of debris in the divots and wiped it down one final time. I filled the holes with briar dust and then dripped clear super glue on top of the briar dust. I added more briar dust and more glue until I had the surfaces built up and repaired.LaFond18


LaFond20 I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the patches into the surrounding briar. It took a bit of sanding to smooth things out and leave the patches only in the holes that needed to be repaired and not on the surface of the bowl. Once the surface was smooth I sanded the areas with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches.LaFond21


LaFond23 I sanded the inside of the bowl and then scrubbed out the bowl, shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. I scrubbed until the shank was clean.LaFond24 I used the stain pens to blend in the sanded areas with the colour of the rest of the bowl. I used it on the rim and the repairs around the bowl. I blended light brown and dark brown stain pens to get the colour to match. I sanded the bowl and rim with a fine grit sanding block to feather in the stained areas.LaFond25




LaFond29 After sanding I rubbed the bowl down with a light coat of olive oil and buffed it into the briar.LaFond30



LaFond33 I would need to wax and polish the bowl once I had finished with the stem but it was done for the time being. I turned to the stem and sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the ripples in the vulcanite on the top and bottom of the stem from the button toward the bowl for about 1 ½ inches. It was obvious and ugly in my opinion. I finished smoothing out the stem surface and then sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to smooth out the scratches.LaFond34



LaFond37 There was some oxidation on the stem that needed some more work so I repeated the process until the oxidation was removed. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil I finished sanding with the micromesh pads dry sanding with 6000-12000 grit. I gave the stem a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.LaFond38


LaFond40 I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buffing pad and then took it back to the work table and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. Dave Gossett wrote about doing that several blogs ago and I have been doing it ever since. It seems to add depth to the shine that a buffer alone does not give. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I took the photos outside in the waning light of the day. I really like the look of the pipe in the grass. The green sets off the colours of the briar and the black of the stem. This old timer is ready for a long life ahead of service to whoever takes it home to their rotation. Thanks for looking.LaFond41