Daily Archives: June 11, 2016

Breathing New Life into a Design by Curtis Metal Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

This smoking metal pipe is really Art Deco looking. It has a metal finned bowl with a pressure fit top cap holding in a briar bowl. There is a threaded connector between the bowl and the metal shank base. The connector threads into both the bowl and the shank. The shank has a pointed end cap that is frozen in place. The bowl was caked and worn. The stem had bite marks on both the top and the bottom sides near the button. The stem is a military mount that sits in a stepped down interior of the metal shank. There is a tube at the end of the airway in the shank that seems to have holes in it as the air flows through when blown into the end. The exterior of the pipe is oxidized and dull. The bottom of the shank is stamped Design by Curtis over Pat. Pend. It is a brand about which I know nothing.Curtis1 Curtis2 Curtis3 Curtis4I took some close-up photos of the bowl and the stamping on the shank to give a better idea of what the pipe looked like when I started.Curtis5 Curtis6I took the pipe apart to have a look at the pieces individually and see what I could learn from the way it fit together. I was unable to take the end cap off the shank and I was not willing to damage the cone shaped piece to work it free.Curtis7 Curtis8 Curtis9I wanted to learn more about the pipe so I did a bit of digging on the Smoking Metal Pipes Site and found this information and pictures (http://www.smokingmetal.co.uk/pipe.php?page=52 ). The site showed a picture of another version of the pipe. It may be newer than the one that I had in hand. It was marked as a Curtis Custom-Built Pipe Model 100. It was manufactured by Curtis Industries of 1120 East 222nd Street, Cleveland, Ohio. They were first seen around 1946. The pipe that was pictured was different in several ways. The stem was different in that it had a filter insert and a threaded tenon. My version did not have a filter system and also did not have the stinger end cap that held the filter in place. The pictures that follow come from that site. I have cropped and rearranged them to better suit the order of my blog. The brochure also comes from that site.Curtis9a Curtis9bFrom the Smoking Metal Site it appears that the patent was applied for 25 December 1945. It had the patent number #D143257 and the inventor is named as Howard Abrams from University Heights, Ohio. The site also showed a cut away photo of the bowl and cup.Curtis10It also includes a copy of the brochure that was included with the pipe. The cover of the brochure reads The Curtis Custom-Built Pipe and three descriptors – Streamlined, Precision Built, Guaranteed. The back reads The Curtis Pipe carries a six month guarantee. The rest reads No. 52927 over Curtis Industries 1120 East 222nd St. Cleveland, Ohio over Model 100 Patent Pending.Curtis11Inside it reads A few simple ways to care for your Curtis Pipe. I typed out the contents below the picture.Curtis121. Break your pipe in slowly. For the first few smokes fill the pipe loosely and only half way then smoke the new Curtis Pipe slowly and all the way down. Don’t puff hard or fast or you may burn your tongue and may burn out the bowl as well.

2. Don’t collect too much cake, a cracked, burnt and useless bowl will result.

3. Never knock your pipe on hard surfaces since you may split the shank or break the bit. Don’t bite on the bit too hard.

4. Keep your pipe clean. Use your cleaner every few smokes and occasionally use a good fluid to cleanse it.

5. By removing the knurled cap on the pipe stem, a standard pipe filter can be used.

The Curtis Pipe, new in design is produced with a high degree of precision, designed for a cool, clean smoke. Enjoy the full smoking benefits of the pipe by following above suggestions.

Armed with this information I took the pipe apart and began to clean and restore it. I reamed the bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife to remove the cake and clean up the briar rim of the bowl insert.Curtis13 Curtis14I unscrewed the bowl and the threaded connector from the bottom of the bowl. I cleaned out the connector and the airway in the bowl with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs.Curtis15 Curtis16I scrubbed the rim and the interior of the bowl with cotton swabs and alcohol to clean out the remaining debris in the bowl and on the rim.Curtis17I scrubbed out the mortise and airway with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to remove the tars and residue.Curtis18 Curtis19I heated the end cap and still could not remove it so I cleaned out the inside of the airway from the top of the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It was a bit of a pain to work around the tube in the shank below but I was able to remove the grime and build up in that place.Curtis20I set the shank aside and worked on the stem. I cleaned it out with alcohol. There were two deep tooth marks on top and the underside of the stem. Curtis21 Curtis22I wiped the stem surface down and filled in the dents with black super glue. I sprayed the glue with the accelerator and then sanded the repairs down with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding stick until they matched the surface of the stem.Curtis23 Curtis24 Curtis25I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of oil. I let the oil dry.Curtis26 Curtis27 Curtis28I dry sanded the aluminum barrel shank and the rim of the bowl with 4000-12000 grit micromesh pads. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and then buffed it with a clean flannel buffing pad. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful example of the Curtis pipe and the finished pipe is a great addition to my metal collection. Thanks for looking.Curtis29 Curtis30 Curtis31 Curtis32 Curtis33 Curtis34 Curtis35 Curtis36


I received and email from one of the blog’s readers, Doug with some photos of the break down of the bowl system. It looks like the rim top is indeed pressure fit. Thanks for providing these photos Doug. They certainly add to our understanding of the way the bowl was designed. thumbnail_20160709_144214-1_resized[1] thumbnail_20160709_144222-1_resized[1] thumbnail_20160709_144234-1_resized[1] thumbnail_20160709_144253-1_resized[1] thumbnail_20160709_144305-1_resized[1]


A Simple Cleanup – NOS Simpsons Scotland Billiard 382

Blog by Steve Laug

A pipe my brother picked up quite awhile ago on Ebay was a nice vintage Simpsons 382. The seller said that they thought it had been lightly smoked. From the photos that were included in the sale I can see why they thought the pipe was smoked. It looked rough. The finish was dirty with dirt in grooves of the sandblast. There are parts of the blast that are deep and those had dust and grime in them. The rim appeared to be flawless and clean the inner and outer edges are undamaged. The dimensions of this petite pipe were given and it appeared to be proportional and attractive. The bowl is 1 5/8″ tall and measures about 1 1/8″ across the top. The chamber is ¾”. The length is 5 ½”. The saddle stem has some oxidation and scratches from sitting around and never being used. It has a faintly stamped and peeling M on top of the stem but I have no idea what that refers to. The pipe is marked as follows “Simpsons Scotland 382 “. The seller said that from their research that the 382 is a Comoy’s shape number. The photos below are the ones included in the advert on Ebay.Simpson1 Simpson2 Simpson3 Simpson4When the pipe arrived it was actually in much better condition than the photos portrayed it. The finish was dirty but it was also a dark brown with light undertones coming through. The stem was oxidized but there were no tooth marks or chatter. The pipe looked like it had been sitting a very long time in a cupboard or on a shelf and the dust had settled into the crevices and the sunlight had done its work on vulcanite but it indeed was unsmoked. In my opinion it is New Old Stock or NOS. The bowl has a carbon bowl coating but the airway is absolutely clean. There is no debris or tar in it. All those things combined make think that it has never been smoked. I took a few photos of the pipe when I brought it to the work table. I was due for one that was an easy clean up and this looked like it might be the one.Simpson5 Simpson6I took a close-up photo of the rim and bowl to give you a look at what I see. The carbon coating in the bowl is untouched by fire. The rim is flawless.Simpson7I also took a close-up of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It read SIMPSONS over SCOTLAND and below Scotland and to the right (almost on the side of the shank) was the number stamp 382.Simpson8With the interior pretty clean I decided to run a couple of pipe cleaners through the mortise, airway and into the bowl and the airway in the stem. The only thing that came out was the carcass of a small bug that fell out of the stem ahead of the pipe cleaner.Simpson9 Simpson10I scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the dust and grime in the crevices and grooves of the bowl. I rinsed it off with warm water and dried off the bowl with a soft cloth. I hand buffed the bowl with a shoe brush and you can see the state of the cleaned bowl – it has a deep shine.Simpson11I sanded the stem with 220-600 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. In the process of cleaning it the M decal came off and the stem was unmarked. I decided not to worry about it as it was not clear what it meant anyway. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then buffed it with red Tripoli. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and then dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads. I gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of oil. I let it dry.Simpson12 Simpson13 Simpson14I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the bowl and stem with a clean flannel buffing pad and then with a microfibre cloth to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beauty. Thanks for looking.Simpson15 Simpson16 Simpson17 Simpson18 Simpson19 Simpson20 Simpson21

Custombilt Refresh

Al does a great job on this Custombilt. I appreciate his attention to detail and his great write up of this restoration. I wanted to pass it on to all of the readers of rebornpipes. Thanks Al for a great job.


blog by Al Loria

I came across this pipe a few months ago in a lot buy with another pipe which the seller thought was unmarked because of prior wear and polishing. But, with a loop and bright light I could see it was Mincer era Custom-Bilt. Score one for me!

This is one of the odder Custombilts I’ve come across. The nomenclature is different than any other I’ve seen. It is the old script logo, but does not have the dash between Custom and Bilt, and only the C in Custombilt is capitalized. There is a square stamped on one side of the stummel, which I have seen before, and imported briar on the bottom. It is a short, saddle-bit billiard with a slightly canted bowl.

The overall condition was good. No major dings, little tar on the rim, the chamber was in very good shape and solid. There…

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Restoring my Paris Finds – A Pair of Hilson Double Ecume Sandblast Pipes

Blog by Steve Laug

As I wrote earlier in another blog, I found these two pipes on an evening walk to dinner in the Latin Quarter of Paris (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/06/10/some-good-pipe-finds-on-a-recent-work-trip-to-europe/). The pair of Hilson pipes was stamped in block letters Hilson over Double Ecume with the word Sandblast following. The delicate canted Dublin was stamped with the shape number 5 just before the stem shank union, while the stack with the saddle stem was stamped with the shape number 95/S on the bottom of the bowl. The finish on both pipes was dirty and worn but not ruined. The bowls were meerlined and the top of the Dublin had a heavy build up of tars and cake that overflowed the bowl. The stack/billiard was less dirty but the cake overflowed onto the rim as well. The meer lining was darkened. The bowl in the Dublin had a thick cake that extended to the bottom of the bowl and reduced the size of the already petite bowl. The bowl on the stack was less thick but it nonetheless reduced the diameter of the bowl as well. The stems on both pipes had some tooth chatter and light oxidation but would easily clean up. Both stems bore a stylized capital H on the left side. As I looked at them I was glad I had picked them up for small sum of 10 Euros or slightly over 14 dollars Canadian. Hilson1 Hilson2 Hilson3 Hilson4

I remember when I purchased them I took them back to the hotel in Paris and used a wooden coffee stirrer to scrape away some of the cake and debris in the bowls to check the meerlinings. I was hoping that they were intact all the way to the bottom of the bowl. I breathed a sigh of relief when I found that they were uncracked as far as I could see.

I was curious as to the stamping on the pipes. I have cleaned and restored quite a few Hilson pipes over the years – many of them meerschaum lined – and I do not recall seeing the Double Ecume stamping before. First I wanted to know what the name Ecume meant so I looked it up in a French/English dictionary and found that it meant Foam. Thus the pipe name was Hilson Double Foam. I liked the French far better! It sounded more elegant. I used Google and found out that the pipes were made when Hilson was still a Belgian Company. This dates them as pre 1980 as the company was then purchased by Gubbels in Holland. I checked on Pipedia and found an advertisement for Hilson Elan pipes. The sandblast looks like the one on my Ecume pipes. The interesting thing that came from this Wally Frank Catalogue advertisement was the description of the tube in the shank. It is described as Hilson’s special tubular dry smoking condenser. You can see a line drawing of that in the photo below marked as FIG. A (circled in red in the photo below).Hilson5From that link I checked out Chris Keene’s Pipe pages site for more information and found the following catalogue page. http://pipepages.com/2wf14.htm. Even thought the advertising page is for Hilson Fantasia Pipes it confirmed several facts for me that I had not previously known. First was that the meerschaum lined bowl was cut from block meerschaum and not a pressed meerschaum. That is probably why it had survived intact through the years. Second, that all Hilson Belgian pipes had the condenser tube in the shank. I also found a page from an Iwan Ries Catalogue from 1962 that showed meerschaum lined briar pipes. Sadly I could not view the page as the link was not functional.Hilson6I carefully reamed out the cake in both pipes with the Savinelli Pipe Knife to take it back to the meerschaum lining. I did not want to gouge or chip the meerlining so I proceeded with caution. I sanded the interior of the bowl with a piece of 229 grit sandpaper around the cutting head of the PipeNet pipe reaming tool to take out all of the cake in the bowls.Hilson7 Hilson8Once I cleaned the bowls I decided to top the two pipes to remove the build up on the rim surfaces. Since both pipes appeared to have smooth rims topping them would not damage the original look of the pipe and would allow me to smooth out the top of the meerschaum bowl insert. I topped both bowls on 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board.Hilson9When I finished topping them the meerschaum was clean the surface of the rim was smooth.Hilson10I sanded the rims with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches left behind by topping the bowls. The polished rims looked really smooth and ready to be stained. I stained the rim of the briar outer bowl with a dark brown stain pen and a Sharpie black permanent marking pen to get the dark brown colour of the bowl.Hilson11I scrubbed out the inside of the stem and the shank of the pipes with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. There was a lot of grime in both pipes. The condenser tubes on both were coated with tars and oils that I removed with 0000 steel wool. I had to reshape the open end of the tube in the Dublin stem as someone had tried to remove it with pliers. It was crushed and there were some marks from the jaws of the pliers. I reshaped it with an ice pick inserted and heated the tube with a lighter. I was able to bring it back to round. I was also able with the heating to remove both tube inserts and clean the stems before putting them back in place. I scrubbed the briar with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed them with tap water. I dried them off and both bowls were clean.Hilson12I sanded the tooth marks and chatter on the stems with 220 and 380 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding stick. I was able to remove all of the marks.Hilson13 Hilson14I wet sanded the stems with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and rubbed them down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded the stems with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave them another coat of oil. I finished sanding them with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave them a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let them dry.Hilson15 Hilson16 Hilson17I buffed the stems with Blue Diamond on the wheel and gave them both multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand waxed the bowls with Conservator’s Wax and a shoe brush. I hand buffed both the bowls and stems with a microfibre cloth to add depth to the shine. The finished pair of Hilsons is shown in the photos below. They are a beautiful set of pipes and serve as a reminder of my recent Paris trip. Thanks for looking.Hilson18 Hilson19 Hilson20 Hilson21 Hilson22 Hilson23

1937 GBD Bent Billiard

By Al Jones

I’m always on the lookout for unique GBD brand pipes and silver hallmarked pipes of that brand are not often seen. This one was offered on Ebay and I was able to strike a deal with the seller. The sellers pictures were promising and the pipe appeared to be in very good condition. In communication with the seller, I learned that the pipe was found at a large flea market in Brimfield, Massachusetts. He found it sitting in a large pipe of pipes.

The sterling band had the “B” hallmark stamp which denotes 1937. So, this pipe was made the same year as Amelia Earhart died and the Hindenberg exploded. It’s former owner perhaps smoked it while listening to the radio announce the advent and end of World War II. I’m always intrigued by what a pipe may have encountered and I wish this one could tell me of its journey.

When I opened the box, I could see that the pipe was indeed in great condition. It had a little oxidation on the stem and some cake in the bowl. The stem fitment, button and briar were all better than it appeared from the photos.



I’ve restored a number of old pipes, but I have to admit that I was nervous working on this one. The bowl only had a very light cake, so I just wrapped a piece of 320 grit paper around the suitable insert for my Castleford reamer. The bowl was then soaked with alcohol and sea salt. Following the soak, I cleaned the shank with some bristle brushes dipped in alcohol. The shank was very dirty and it took a while until the brushes were clean. I buffed the briar lightly with White Diamond and several coats of Carnuba wax. The brand logo section on the briar was worn, but legible, so I was careful not to touch that area. I hand waxed the nomenclature areas with Halycon wax.

I removed the light oxidation around the button with 800 grit paper, followed by 1500 and 2000 grades. I then used 8000 and 1200 grade micromesh paper. The stem was mounted to the pipe and buffed lightly with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic polish. The vulcanite was raised around the GBD rondell. It may have been re-glued to the stem at some point. The brass rondell was worn, so I decided to let well enough alone. The rondell is smaller in size than those on any of my other GBD’s.  I used a silver polishing cloth on the sterling band. The hallmark stamps are in good shape I did not want to diminish them.

Below is the finished pipe, one that I was very pleased to add to my GBD collection.

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GBD_R9118 (9)


GBD_R9118 (10)


GBD_R9118 (11)


GBD_R9118 (12)