Daily Archives: August 26, 2016

An Old Timer Horn Stem, Cherrywood Shank and Briar Bowl BBK Bosshardt Luzern

Blog by Steve Laug

This old pipe came to me from my brother. He picks up some interesting pipes in his hunts and eBay purchases and this is a unique one. The bowl is a really nice piece of briar with some amazing grain – a mix of flame and birdseye on the bowl. The rim cap and bowl cap are brass coloured. The hinge on the back of the rim connects the rim cap and the bowl cap. There is a curved spring piece of brass on the front that fits over a ridge on the front of the rim. The end of the briar shank has a brass shank cap/ferrule. It was tarnished to almost copper coloured brass. The shank extension is cherry wood and is pressure fit into the mortise. The top of the cherry wood extension has a brass ring that is pressure fit on the end of the extension. The stem is horn. The end of the cherry wood has a threaded end that the horn stem screws onto. The stem had some tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem next to the button. The shank of the pipe is stamped on the left side with the words Bruyere over Garantee. On the right side of the shank it is stamped BBK in an oval over Bosshardt over Luzern.BBK1Through the years I have cleaned up several BBK pipes. The last one was a rusticated hunter pipe with a windcap. Prior to that, I restored a square shanked panel billiard. I have written about both them on rebornpipes at the following links: https://rebornpipes.com/2012/09/21/refurb-on-a-bbk-panel-billiard-swiss-made/, https://rebornpipes.com/2014/08/31/restoring-an-old-bbk-hunter-pipe/.

When I worked on the BBK Hunter I researched the brand. The BBK was a Swiss made brand as the shanks of all the pipes I had cleaned up and restored were stamped that way. Pipedia was my primary reference in that blog. Here is the link: http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Bru-Bu. I have included the material from the previous blog below.

“Josef Brunner, oldest son of the farmer Konstantin Brunner from the hamlet Nieder-Huggerwald, belonging to the community of Kleinlützel (Canton Solothurn), was sent in 1871 to a pipe turner in Winkel/Alsace for his apprenticeship. As was usual at that time, Brunner wandered as a journeyman after ending the apprenticeship. Eventually, he went to Saint-Claude, France which was then the world’s stronghold of briar pipe manufacturing. There, Brunner was able to increase and deepen his knowledge in the field of industrial pipe making. When he returned home in 1878, he installed a small turner’s workshop in the house of his father. With the energetic support of his two younger brothers, he began to produce tobacco pipes of his own calculation, taking them to the markets in the surrounding area. In 1893, Bernhard Brunner’s wife inherited the mill in Kleinlützel. At this point, the pipe fabrication was transferred to an annex belonging to the mill. Now it was possible to drive the machines by water power – an important relief to the workers and a considerable innovation compared to the previous pedal-driven system.”

“The business developed so well after the turn of the century even when a lack of workers in Kleinlützel occurred. The problem was solved by founding a subsidiary company in the small nearby town Laufen an der Birs in the Canton of Bern. This plant didn’t exist too long. The disastrous economic crisis in the 1920’s and early 1930’s forced the Brunner family to restrict the fabrication of pipes dramatically. In addition the big French pipe factories in Saint-Claude – although suffering from the same circumstances – flooded the Swiss market with pipes at prices that couldn’t be matched by Swiss producers. By 1931 approximately 150 of 180 Brunner employees had been sacked – the rest remained in Kleinlützel, where the cheap electric energy ensured a meager survival.”

“In 1932, Mr. Buhofer joined the Brunner family. The company was named Brunner-Buhofer-Kompagnie, and, shortly thereafter, Bru-Bu. Buhofer had made his fortune in the United States but, homesick, returned to Switzerland to search for a new challenge. Bru-Bu’s fabrication program was expanded with many handcrafted wooden art articles: carved family coats of arms, bread plates, fruit scarves, and – more and more – souvenir articles for the expanding Swiss tourism industry. Pipes remained in the program continuously, but the offerings changed from traditional Swiss pipes to the more standard European shaped pipes. Bru Bu is widely known as BBK.”

The last paragraph of the Pipedia article linked BBK pipes to Former Nielsen. I have two of Former’s pipes so this stood out to me. “At some point in the late 1970’s, Bru-Bu went out of business. Some of the Brunners, as far as known, continued as timber traders. But in 1986 new life filled the old Bru-Bu pipe workshop, when Dr. Horst Wiethüchter and “Former” Nielsen started to produce the high-grade Bentley pipes there.”

My brother cleaned up the pipe and reamed the bowl. He scrubbed out the wind cap and the brass rim cap. He cleaned out the shank and the airways in the stem, shank extension and the mortise. It turned out that the cherry wood extension was loose fitting in the shank. The wood had worn enough that it was no longer snug. The horn stem was clean but had tooth chatter and a deep tooth mark on the underside of the stem near the button. The brass rim cap was dented and worn but the wind cap still fit tightly against it. The next set of four pictures show the condition of the pipe after he had cleaned it up. BBK2 BBK3I took the pipe apart to show the various components of the pipe. The cherry wood extension in the centre of the photo has a tapered end that fits into the shank and a threaded end that the stem screws onto.BBK4I took a close up photo of the rim cap and the inside of the wind cap. You can see from the photo that the rim is badly dented and quite dirty. The inside of the wind cap is pitted and has some rust. The edge of the rim on the front had lifted slightly from the inner edge of the bowl and was dented on the front. The ridge on the edge was still there and held the front spring on the wind cap in place.BBK5I took some photos of the stem to show the tooth chatter and worn surface of the stem near the button on both the top and the bottom near the button. There was also some deeper tooth marks on the underside of the stem.BBK6I used a small ballpein hammer to flatten the rim cap to the briar rim underneath. I worked on it to minimize some to the dents and dings in the brass rim.BBK7I cleaned out the remaining debris in the bowl with a Savinelli Pipe Knife. My tapping the hammer on the rim knocked some pieces of cake free so the knife cleaned up what remained. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean out the inside of the wind cap. I was able to remove some of the rust on the inside with the brush.BBK8I scrubbed the shank with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove any of the dust from my quick ream clean up. It was amazingly clean. I also ran pipe cleaners and alcohol through the shank extension and the stem.BBK9I sanded the tooth chatter and the tooth marks on the horn stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove them and blend them into the material. I also wanted to smooth out the roughness of the stem at those points.BBK10The cherry wood shank extension was dirty so I wiped off the exterior with an alcohol dampened cotton pad. I noticed that the end of the pressure fit tenon had a horn end cap to seal the end of the wooden tenon. I believe that addition preserved the tenon from shrinkage and splintering. The threaded tenon on the other end of the extension fit snug into the end of the horn stem.BBK11I polished the wind cap, rim cap and the shank cap with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I took some photos the pipe after the polishing was completed. It is a beautiful piece of briar.BBK12 BBK14 BBK13I polished the horn stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. I gave it a final rubdown of oil after sanding it with the 12000 grit pad and set it aside to dry.BBK15 BBK16 BBK17I stained the bowl with a Danish Oil and Cherry stain mixture.BBK18 BBK19After it sat for about 20 minutes I rubbed it down with a soft cloth to polish it. After the hand rubbing the grain stood out more clearly. The red stain and the brass caps really looked great together.BBK20 BBK21I gave the wooden friction fit tenon several coats of clear fingernail polish, being careful to keep it off of the horn cap on the end. That did the trick and the extension sat snug in the mortise.BBK23 BBK24I gave the bowl, shank and stem a thick coat of Conservator’s Wax and let it dry. I hand buffed it and gave it a second coat of the wax.BBK25I buffed the pipe by hand with a microfibre cloth and polished the metal with a jeweler’s cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I love the way the grain just pops on this old pipe. The cherry wood shank extension adds not only length but also a touch of rustic to the pipe, though this particular piece of cherry wood has bark that is quite smooth. The dark striations of the horn stem also go well with the wood. The brass bands at the stem and the shank as well as the rim cap and wind cap give this old timer a real look of class. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. It is a beautiful pipe to my eyes. Thanks for looking.BBK26 BBK27 BBK28 BBK29 BBK30 BBK31 BBK32 BBK33 BBK34


A 9438 Rhodesian Stamped Tobacco Town

Blog by Steve Laug

This is one of my favourite pipe shapes – the classic GBD 9438. There is just something about the way the lines flow and the way the pipe sits in the hand that make this an all-time favourite from me. This one is somewhat unique in that though it bears the London England over 9438 stamp on the right side of the shank on the left side it is stamped Tobacco Town. The stem bears no GBD roundel but it is definitely the original stem. The finish is dark and the briar has some amazing grain. Tobacco Town is a chain of tobacco shops in the Northwestern United States and it also is the name of a few shops across the Southwest and the Midwest. Here is a link to the shops in Portland, Oregon:  http://tobaccotown.com/. I think that because of the wide use of the name that identifying the shop that had this line of pipes made for them by GBD will not be possible. The two photos below show the pipe as it was when my brother received it.GBD1The rim had a heavy tar buildup with the cake overflowing the bowl onto the rim top. The twin rings around the cap on the bowl also were filled with dust and debris. The stem was oxidized and there were some deep tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. The topside of the button was worn thinner than the underside and there were some tooth marks on it as well.GBD2My brother Jeff has developed his own cleaning regimen that really delivers a clean pipe to me. By the time I receive it the bowl has been reamed and the finish scrubbed clean with no dirt or debris in the rings. The stem was clean and the damaged areas very visible. The rim top was free of the lava overflow but still was slightly darkened. The next set of four photos show what the pipe looked like when I started working on it.GBD3 GBD4Before I began my work I took a close up photo of the rim top and the bite marks on the top and bottom of the stem near the button. The rim had the majority of the tars removed but under the bright light I could see some residual stubborn bits. The inner edge of the rim also had some damage from what looked like someone’s reaming the bowl with a knife. I have circled the bite marks in the photos of the stem surfaces with a red circle to clearly identify the issues there.GBD5 GBD6I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and the rim with acetone on cotton pads to try to remove more of the residue on the rim and to remove some of the darker spots of stain on the bowl. I wanted the grain to really stand out.GBD7 GBD8I worked on minimizing the damage to the inner edge of the rim by sanding it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper.GBD9I decided to lightly top the bowl to remove the stubborn residue that remained and to lighten the smoke darkened rim at the back of the bowl.GBD10I noticed that the inside of the shank had been stained with the same brown stain as the exterior of the bowl so I scrubbed it out with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I was able to remove the stain. As I scrubbed it I notice that against the end of the mortise there were still some tars that kept coming out with the cotton swabs. I used a dental spatula to scrape the end of the mortise to remove these hardened tars. They are visible on the paper towel in the second photo below. I followed that up by swabbing out the mortise with cotton swabs and alcohol. I also scrubbed the airway in the stem. There was some debris trapped in the slot in the button that I worked out with a dental pick.GBD11 GBD12I wiped the exterior of the stem down with alcohol on a cotton pad and worked on the tooth dents to make sure the surface was clean. I used a dental pick to apply the black super glue to the dents on both sides of the stem and sprayed the glue with accelerator. I followed up with applying a second layer of the glue to fill in the air bubbles on the surface that seem to always follow using the accelerator and set the stem aside to dry.GBD13When the glue had cured I used a flat blade needle file to smooth out the patch to the surface of the stem and to recut and reshape the button. I sanded the repair with 220 grit sandpaper and then refiled it with the needle file.GBD14 GBD16I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads using my normal routine – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down between each set of three pads with Obsidian Oil. I gave the stem a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.GBD17 GBD18 GBD19I rubbed the bowl down with Watco Danish Oil with Cherry stain and let it dry for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes I rubbed the bowl down with a soft flannel cloth.GBD20I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. This is one of my favourite shaped both in terms of the shape and the hand feel of the bowl. The red colours that are highlighted by the cherry stain show the grain beautifully. Thanks for looking.GBD22 GBD23 GBD24 GBD25 GBD26 GBD27 GBD28