Blog by Steve Laug
I have always liked older BBB pipes. I used to buy them on eBay when no one was hunting for them for almost nothing. The prices they are today they are generally untouchable for me. Once in a while though one slips under the radar. This Tiger Grain with a Lucite stem was one my brother caught in his ongoing prowl of eBay. He got it for a decent price. It is either a newer BBB or it has a replacement stem on it. My thinking tends toward the previous – a newer pipe from when Cadogan took over the line. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank with BBB in a Diamond and underneath it reads Tiger Grain. The right side of the shank reads London England and the number 4. The next two photos show the condition of the pipe when it arrived in Idaho. The bowl finish on the bowl was dirty and there were rough spots. The rim had burn marks on the outer and inner edges on the front side. The beveled rim was thickly caked with the overflow from the cake in the bowl. The Lucite stem had tooth marks and was covered with sticky debris. The airway in the stem was darkened with tars and oils. The mix of bright yellows, white and greys looked good underneath the grime. The dark black/brown airway stood out like a sore. With the exterior that dirty I could only guess that the inside was also very dirty.My brother once again did the major clean up on this pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove all of the grime and grit. He was able to scrub away much of the rim build up and the surface of the stem. He scrubbed the internals with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. When the pipe arrived in Vancouver it was pretty clean. I took the following photos of the pipe before I began to work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim to show the small amount of cake on the rim and the burn marks on the front of the pipe on both the inner and outer edge of the rim. I circled the burned spot with a red circle in the photo below.There was a red tone to the briar. I rubbed it down with a light coat of olive oil and brought out the red. I wanted to see what the bowl and rim looked like when it had been oiled.I sanded the rim and bevel with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining cake and clean up the bevel on the rim. When I finished the rim was clean but it still showed the burn marks and the inner bevel on the rim was also darkened.I decided to top the bowl on the topping board to remove the damaged rim top and the burn marks. I sanded it until the rim top was smooth and the outer edge was clean.I polished the topped bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. When I finished the rim was smooth and polished.I worked on the mortise and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I used a dental spatula to scrape out the mortise. Once I was finished cleaning it the shank and airway was clean. I also scrubbed out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I used bristle pipe cleaners- both thin and thicker to scrub out the tars and dark stains. I sanded out the tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem to remove them and blend them into the surface of the Lucite.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth between each grit of micromesh pads. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the pipe. I carefully avoided the stamping. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photo below. It is a nice looking pipe. The bowl and rings are in perfect shape. The new rim top looks like it has always been there. Thanks for looking.