Daily Archives: December 31, 2016

Cleaned an 80+year old KBB Yello-Bole Churchwarden 2095

Blog by Steve Laug

After the last challenge of the cracked bowl on the WDC Wellington House Pipe it was time to take on something that would go quickly and have some real beauty as well when finished. My brother had included just the pipe in the latest shipment that came to Vancouver from Idaho. It is a twelve inch long churchwarden. The bowl had the typical varnish coat over a oxblood stain that was peeling. There was a light cake in the bowl and the rim was dirty but the Yello-Bole Honey Cured Coating was very visible on the inner bevel of the rim top. The stamping on this one is the classic older Yello-Bole. It had the KBB cloverleaf on the left side of the shank and next to that it read YELLO-BOLE over Honey Cured Briar. ON the right side of the shank it has the shape number 2095. The stamping is in excellent shape. The stem was lightly oxidized and had the yellow circle on the top side near the shank/stem junction. There were single cut marks on both the top and underside of the stem about three inches forward from the button. There was also minimal tooth chatter and tooth marks on the stem on either side. The stem did not fit all the way into the shank when the pipe arrived in Idaho. (I have included the photos of the pipe that my brother took before he started to clean up the pipe.)cw1 cw2From a comment on a blog I wrote on the various Yello-Bole logos in my collection of these pipes I was able to narrow down a date for the pipe. Here is the link to the post and the comments on the blog: https://rebornpipes.com/2013/01/25/yello-bole-logos-from-my-collection-of-old-yello-bole-pipes/. The comment came from Troy who I consider my go to guy for Yello-Bole informantion (who has written on rebornpipes and also has a blog of his own). Troy wrote as follows on dating Yello-Bole pipes by the stamping and logos.

“I have a large KBB Yello-Bole collection, They are some of my most favorite pipes and the best smokers for the money (briar wise) you can find in my opinion. I have restored and researched them quite a bit. I have several listed on my blog that I have cleaned or restored. I own about 30-40 KBB Yello-Boles now.”

“Here is a little guide to dating KBB Yello-Boles. If it has the KBB stamped in the clover leaf it was made 1955 or earlier as they stopped the stamping after being acquired by S.M. Frank. From 1933-1936 they were stamped Honey Cured Briar. Pipes stems stamped with the propeller logo they were made in the 30s or 40s no propellers were used after the 40s. Yello-Bole also used a 4 digit code stamped on the pipe in the 30s. If the pipe had the Yello-Bole circle stamped on the shank it was made in the 30s this stopped after 1939. If the pipe was stamped BRUYERE rather than briar it was made in the 30s.”

From that information I ascertained the following. The churchwarden I had was stamped with KBB in the cloverleaf on the shank side which told me that the pipe was made before 1955. It is also stamped under the YELLO-BOLE name stamp with the words Honey Cured Briar which put its manufacture between 1933 and 1936. Further the four digit shape code 2095 also put the date in the 1930s. With all of that collected I knew the pipe was made between 1933 and 1936 which means that this old Churchwarden has seen a lot of life. I wish it could tell its story.

My brother included some close up photos of the rim top and the peeling varnish on the bowl sides and bottom for information. You can also see some peeling of the varnish on the rim top along with the darkening and overflow of cake.cw3 cw4 cw5The next photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable.cw6The next two photos show the condition of the stem. You can see the tooth chatter and marks on the stem surface on both sides. None of them are deep and all should be able to be polished out.cw7The next photo shows the cut mark on the top side of the stem. There is a matching mark on the underside.cw8My brother cleaned up the pipe – reaming the bowl, cleaning out the shank, airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The inside was clean. He scrubbed the briar and stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cleaned out the buildup on the rim and the grime on the sides of the bowl. The next four photos show what the pipe looked like when it arrived in Vancouver. It was ready to clean up and bring back to life.cw9 cw10I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim. The beveled inner edge shows the Yello-Bole coating. It is also visible on the inside of the bowl.cw11I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and worked on the tooth chatter on each end with the same sandpaper.cw12 cw13I took closeup photos of the Yello-Bole stinger apparatus. The first shows the topside of the stinger and the second the underside.cw14I took closeup photos of the existing finish on the bowl to show the peeling varnish and the speckled finish.cw15I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the varnish coat and I was surprised by the grain that came through once the varnish was gone.cw16 cw17I waxed the bowl with Conservator’s Wax so that I could see the scratching and spots that needed more attention on the briar. A bit of a shine makes issues in the briar stand out.cw18 cw19I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cotton pad to remove any polishing dust left behind.cw20 cw21I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the last set of pads I rubbed it down with a final coat of oil and set the stem aside to dry.cw22 cw23 cw24I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the last of the scratches in the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the bowl with a clean buffing pad. The next photos show the finished bowl.cw25 cw26 cw27 cw28I put the stem on the bowl and buffed the entirety again with Blue Diamond and gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to deepen the polish. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is cleaned, all varnish has been removed from the bowl and shank and it has been waxed and buffed. The finished pipe has a rich shine and all of the grain is visible through the finish. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.cw29 cw30 cw31 cw32 cw33 cw34 cw35 cw36

An Addendum – a Bowl Coating for the Cracked Bowl of the WDC Wellington House pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

In a recent blog I wrote about repairing a WDC Wellington House pipe with a cracked bowl that had been half way repaired by someone else. I wrote about using JB Weld on the inside of the bowl (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/12/30/sprucing-up-a-home-doctored-wdc-wellington-house-pipe/).  Some folks have been concerned about toxicity of this product in the bowl of a pipe. Even though the studies on the material have shown that once it is cured and dried the substance is neutral and there is no toxicity issues I still take several precautionary measures to minimize the possibility. First, I sand the repaired area smooth leaving JB Weld in only the repaired areas while leaving the briar bare around the repairs. Second, I mix and apply a bowl coating to the entire bowl to protect the bowl and provide an extra layer between the JB Weld and the tobacco. The coating when dry encourages a new cake to develop as the carbon/charcoal in the mixture provides a rough surface for the cake to adhere to more quickly.

In that particular blog I commented that I was out of charcoal capsules so the bowl coat would have to wait. Yesterday while I was out and about I was able to find some of the capsules that I needed for the mixture. This morning I mixed up a batch of bowl coating for the pipe. I decided to document it as I put it together and write a short tutorial on how I mix the bowl coating and apply it. The photos below show the internal and the external repair to the bowl and where it stood when I posted the blog.bowl1Here are the steps in the process I use along with explanatory photos.

Step 1 Assemble all the ingredients – not too many in this case. I use five Activated Charcoal capsules (food grade) and a tablespoon of sour cream. This amount of sour cream and charcoal is more than enough to coat one bowl but I find it is easier to mix this size batch with what I have. I will often do a second bowl to use up the mixture. I use a small glass bowl to mix the concoction in as I find that is easy to use and clean up afterward.bowl2Step 2 Twist the capsules apart and dump the charcoal powder out of each half onto the sour cream in the mixing bowl. I generally break open two at a time, stirring them into the sour cream with a dental spatula. You can use anything you want to stir the mixture together.bowl3Step 3 When the ingredients are well mixed you should have a dark grey paste in your bowl. It will still smell like sour cream at this point but do not worry when it dries the smell dissipates and all that is left is a dark coating that protects the wall of the bowl. The sour cream acts as the medium for applying the charcoal powder (carbon) to the bowl walls.bowl4Step 4 When the bowl coating is well mixed fold a pipe cleaner in half and use it to apply the coating to the walls of the pipe. I have tried different tools to apply the mixture to the bowl walls and always come back to the folded pipe cleaner.bowl5Step 5 Using the pipe cleaner put a dollop of the mixture on the bottom of the bowl and smooth it upward around the bowl sides. The first dollop will give you enough to paint half way up the bowl walls. You can put a pipe cleaner in the airway into the bowl so as not to clog it or you can be careful as you paint the mixture around that area.bowl6Step 6 Continue painting the mixture up the sides of the bowl to the rim. Do not worry about getting the coating on the rim as it can easily be wiped off when you have finished.bowl7Step 7 When the entire bowl is covered I carefully run the folded pipe cleaner over the surface to smooth out any lumps or thick spots and even out the painting on the walls and bowl bottom. I add more coating as necessary for an even coverage around the bowl.bowl8Step 8 Wipe down the mixture from the edge and surface of the rim with either your finger or a cotton pad to leave the rim top clean. Set the bowl aside in an upright position until the bowl coating has dried. I generally find that the mixture takes a good 24 hours to cure and another half day for the smell to dissipate. Once it is dry the entire bowl is a dark black colour and is dry to touch.bowl9Step 9 I let the bowl sit for four or five days until it is cured and dry. Once the coating has cured the pipe is ready to load with your favourite tobacco and fire up a smoke.

That is it – not a complicated mixture or formula and not a complicated application process. It certainly may seem strange to you to make up the concoction and put it in a pipe but it is a mixture that I have used for quite a few years now and it provides that needed insulation on the walls of the bowl until a new cake has time to form. Honestly there is no residual taste of sour cream that is transferred to your first smoke. Just smoke and know that the repair on the walls of the pipe is safely covered by this added layer of insulation.