Daily Archives: August 12, 2016

Restemming and Restoring a Tiny KBB Rocky Briar 1540B Salesman’s Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

In the box of pipes my brother sent me was a beat up leather pipe and tobacco pouch. I pushed it aside and cleaned up the rest of the pipes in that particular part of the box. The other evening I was doing a bit of sorting and I took out the pouch and looked it over. It had a large tear on the bottom edge. The zipper was worn and hard to work and the leather was brittle. I almost tossed it in the bin but felt something inside of the pouch. I looked at the inside of the underside of the pouch and there was nothing there. I open the broken zipper on the top of the pipe and inside was a very small – tiny if you will – pipe. The tenon was broken and the stem and bowl sat in the pouch.  I took it out of the pouch to have a look. KBB1It was a KBB that was stamped Rocky Briar. Why it bore that stamp I have no idea as it is a smooth briar. There is no rustication or and carving on the bowl at all – just very smooth. Underneath the KBB in a cloverleaf stamp and the Rocky Briar on the left side of the shank it read Reg. Pat. No. 298978. On the right side of the shank it reads 1540B which it was the shape number. All of that seems very normal but did I say that this pipe is tiny? It is only 4 ¾ inches long, 1 1/8 inches tall. The diameter of the bowl is 5/8 inches and the chamber is 7/16 inches in diameter. All is proportional and well laid out. It makes me wonder if it was not a salesman’s pipe.KBB2The tenon was snapped in the shank but no damage had been done to the shank itself. Really the pipe looked quite good other than the broken tenon.KBB3Obviously the pipe had been smoked and quite often. There was a fairly thick soft cake in the bowl and the rim top had a coating of tars and oils. The back left side of the rim had a burn mark on it that was quite large.KBB4I took a photo of the pipe before I began to work on it. The finish was very shiny – like it had been given a coat of varnish. The rim was obviously rough as you can see from the photos but the rest of the pipe looked good. The stem had tooth chatter on the top and the bottom of the stem near the button. The logo on the shank was a clearly stamped circle within a circle. The broken tenon would need to be pulled and if possible the stem given a new tenon.KBB5I used a drywall screw to pull the broken tenon. I screwed it into the broken tenon in the shank and wiggled it free. Before I pulled it out of the shank I took the following photos.KBB5a KBB5bI pulled the piece of tenon out of the shank and reamed the bowl with the only reamer that would fit in the tiny opening – a Savinelli Pipe Knife. I scraped back the cake to bare briar.KBB6The burned area on the top of the bowl made it necessary to top the bowl on the topping board using 220 grit sandpaper.KBB7I scrubbed off the briar with acetone on a cotton pad. I wanted to clean off the sanded rim and the shiny coat on the bowl so that it would be easier to stain the bowl and rim to match.KBB8I used the Dremel and sanding drum to flatten the face on the stem and then set up my cordless drill to drill out the end of the stem. I hand twisted the stem onto the drill bit. I started with a bit slightly larger than the airway in the stem and worked my way up until I had opened up the airway large enough to hold the tenon in place.KBB9I decided rather than trying to turn a small tenon that would fit in the shank I would clean up and use the existing broken tenon. Fortunately on these old pipes the tenon was quite long. I glued the broken tenon piece into the newly drilled opening in the stem with black super glue. I filled in around the tenon piece with the super glue using a dental pick and a piece of paper clip. I smoothed out the glue and aligned the tenon in the shank and set the stem aside to let the glue cure. Once it hardened, I sanded the new tenon with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess glue and make the fit in the shank smoother.KBB10I put the stem in the shank and sanded the shank and stem to make the transition smooth. Once I had the stem fit adjusted I sanded the shank and stem with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to remove the scratches.KBB12 KBB13I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it a second coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set the stem aside to dry.KBB15 KBB16 KBB17I gave the bowl a first coat of Medium Brown Stain with a staining pen to serve as an undercoat. KBB18I realize that for many of us who read about pipe restoration the measurements of this pipe really do not give a clear picture of the true size of the pipe. To give more of a sense of perspective to the diminutive size of the pipe I decided to take two photos of the tiny bowl with a regular sized Comoy’s long shank billiard. The first photo shows the pipe above the larger one. The second photo shows the bowl fitting inside of the regular sized bowl. Hopefully that helps give you a clear idea of the tiny nature of the pipe.KBB19I gave the bowl a second coat of stain using a Danish Oil Cherry stain. I wanted a bit of contrast to the brown and also to enhance the reds in the briar.KBB20 KBB21I rubbed the bowl down with a soft cotton cloth to spread the stain coat out and rub it into the briar. The next photos show the look of the pipe after a quick hand buff.KBB22I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish it. I gave the bowl several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth.KBB23KBB24I gave the bowl and stem another coat of carnauba wax and lightly buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It came out really nicely. Looking at the pipe is hard to tell from the photos the tininess of the pipe as all is proportional. The seashell in the photo is the same one that I use in all of the final photos and with this pipe it seems quite large. Thanks for looking.KBB26 KBB27 KBB28 KBB29 KBB30 KBB31 KBB32 KBB33

A WDC Bakelite/Briar Pipe like none I have seen before

Blog by Steve Laug

When my brother sent me this pipe I have to say I was surprised and enamored with it. I have cleaned up a lot of WDC pipes over the years and have come to really like them. There is something about them that always gets my attention. The workmanship is generally well done. The materials used are good quality. The briar always tends to have some flaws and is never perfect. But there is something about the brand that I like. Well this pipe is an oddity to me. It is a shape that is similar to some of the CPF pipes I have cleaned up and the combination of briar, brass and Bakelite it really nicely done. The first difference is that this one has a flat rectangular shank and saddle stem. The Bakelite base is rounded and flows into the flattened shank and stem. The stem is also Bakelite or Redmanol as the case may be. It is a rich reddish colour that is translucent and the light really plays with. The second difference is that in a lot of this style pipe the threaded connector and bottom of the bowl is metal. On this one it is white porcelain. When the bowl is removed the threaded connector is also porcelain – a single porcelain unit from the cupped bottom of the bowl to the connector. Those two differences intrigued me.WDC1There is a brass spacer between the base and the briar bowl and at some time in its life the spacer had been reversed and the sharper edges scarred the bowl. The Bakelite is actually notched to receive the sharp turned down edges of the spacer. The bowl had lots of dents and scars – character marks that I wish could talk and tell the story of the travels of this old pipe. The brass rim had long since come loose and was easily removed but for some reason never disappeared as it clung to the rim of the pipe. In the next photo you can see the rim top and the porcelain bottom of the bowl… it almost looks like the old milk glass that my grandmother collected.WDC2After looking at the two pictures above that came from my brother I was looking forward to seeing the pipe in person. When it arrived and I finally took it out to work on it was all that I had expected. The stem was over clocked so that would need to be addressed but I lined things up and took the next set of photos to show what the pipe looked like after my brother did an amazing job cleaning it. (It is great to have him work with me – it really speeds up the process on the restoration. He reams and cleans the pipes and does the dirty work of reaming and removing the debris of the years.) I looked it over to see if there were identifying marks. What I thought was brass may all be what is stamped on the right side of the band – 14K Gold Plated. The left side of the band bears the inverted WDC triangle logo.WDC3 WDC4I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the dents, scratches and scars on the surface. The photo also shows the porcelain cup in the bottom of the bowl. It has three round air holes for directing the smoke into the bottom chamber and into the stem.WDC5I dismantled the pipe to show the many parts that went into its construction. The photo below shows the broken down pipe.WDC6The next photos show the over clocked stem. (I had removed the loose band at this point in the process.) Once the base was screwed onto the stem it was grossly overturned. The metal tenon was set in the stem so it would need to be heated to be able to repair this.WDC7I heated the metal tenon with a lighter and once the glue softened I was able to align the stem and shank very easily. Underneath the band the number 43 had been scratched into the Bakelite shank. I am not sure if that is the shape number or if it is the “autograph” of the assembler of the pipe. Either way it is something that remained hidden for many years. WDC8I set the base aside and worked on the bowl. I removed the rim cap and cleaned off the glue that remained behind on the top of the bowl. It was rough and I was thinking that it was reason that the cap was no longer smooth. I scrubbed out the glue residue in the inside of the rim cap as well with alcohol and cotton swabs. I used a flat blade screw driver to smooth out the interior flat surface of the cap. I wiped down the bowl with acetone to remove the remnants of the finish and then glued the rim cap back in place with an all-purpose glue. I polish the rim with some micromesh and metal polish. I decided to leave some of the dents and dings as to me it gave the pipe character.WDC9 WDC10I cleaned the surface of the Bakelite base and sanded the whole base with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12000 grit. I rubbed the base down with Obsidian Oil several times throughout the process to give the micromesh some bite as I polished the base. WDC11WDC12I gave the internals a quick clean with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove any of the sanding dust that might have found its way into the bowl base and shank. I also cleaned the airway in the stem at the same time with alcohol and pipe cleaners.WDC13I roughened the area on the base that would be underneath the band to give the glue something to bind to. I used an all-purpose glue and applied it sparingly to the shank. I had previously polished the band with metal polish to remove any tarnish and give it a shine. I pressed it in place and laid the base aside for the glue to set.WDC14I cleaned the inside of the space plate with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove the debris of the years. The spacer appeared not to have been glued in place so I left it that way. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads 1500-4000 grit until it gleamed. I laid it aside until I was ready to put the pipe back together.WDC15I turned my attention to the stem. There were some light tooth marks on the underside of the stem near the button. I sanded these out with 220 grit sandpaper. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I gave the stem a final wipe down with the damp pad.WDC16 WDC17 WDC18With the stem finished and the glued band dried I put the base and stem back together. I would still need to buff the entirety with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel.WDC19WDC20I used a medium brown stain pen to stain the bowl. I heated the briar and then applied the stain with the pen. I repeated the staining until the coverage was smooth and even.WDC21I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it to raise the shine with a microfibre cloth.WDC22WDC23With all the parts finished I took a final photo of the bowl and the base before putting it back together.WDC24I buffed the completed pipe with Blue Diamond to polish out some of the scratches in the base and the stem. I was not able to remove all of them so I left a few behind to tell the story. I gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am really pleased with the finished pipe and how it looks. Thanks for looking.WDC25 WDC26 WDC27 Wdc28 WDC29 WDC30 WDC31 WDC32