Blog by Steve Laug
On a quiet Sunday afternoon the family and I drove to nearby Fort Langley for lunch. We visited a favourite pipe hunting site that in the past has yielded some good finds. I went through the shop and found a lot of assorted pipes that really did not interest me. In one booth there was a jar with a bouquet of pipe sticking out of the top. They looked interesting and the sales clerk who unlocked the case said they were from the owner, an older gentleman’s private collection. There were several that looked promising but the one that grabbed my attention was an older Panel shaped pipe with worm trail rustication. It has the classic Yello-Bole yellow circle on the top of the stem. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with a KBB in a cloverleaf next to Yello-Bole over Cured with Real Honey ® over Imperial in script. Underneath it reads Imported Briar. The bowl had a thick cake inside and it had run over the top of the bowl. The finish was pretty well shot and it had deep grime in the rustication trails on the sides of the bowl. The stem was lightly oxidized and there was some calcification around the button on the top and underside. I took the stem off the shank to find a push tenon. I decided then and there to add this one to the lot. I took the following photos once I got the pipe home. The finish was worn and dirty with a lot of grit and dust in the worm trail grooves on the bowl. It would take some cleanup work to determine what needed to be done with that. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim. There was a thick cake and an overflow unto the rim top. The overflow and cake made it hard to tell if there was any rim damage or outer edge damage on the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the condition – it was in great shape other than oxidation. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Reaming knife. I took the cake back to bare briar so that I could inspect the internals and the rim edges. I used a brass bristle brush and alcohol to clean the rim top of the buildup and grime that was there. I was surprised to see that it was undamaged.I scrubbed the remaining finish and the dirt off the exterior of the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad. I was able to remove the majority of the grime. The bowl sides, bottom and rim came out really clean. The scrubbed bowl is shown in the photos below.As you can see from the photo below the rim top still needed a lot of work to get it clean and the rustication patterns clearly visible again.I scrubbed out the internals of the mortise and airway into the bowl with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I think it had been years since this old pipe had met a pipe cleaner. It took a lot of rigorous scrubbing to clear out the buildup and debris in those areas. I used a cotton swab, alcohol and a dental pick to work on the rim top some more as well.I scrubbed the bowl and rim with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I rinsed it under running water and dried it off with a towel. I sanded the smooth surfaces of the briar with micromesh sanding pads to polish it – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I used a black Sharpie Pen to stain the rustication patterns on the bowl and shank. I don’t worry too much about covering every small nook and cranny at this point because I am going to put a top coat of dark brown stain over the top. I just want the rusticated areas to be a bit darker than the rest of the bowl once I have finished. It provides an interesting contrast. I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage over the entire bowl. I set the bowl aside and left for work. When I get home this evening I will “unwrap” as Dal says.When I got home in the evening I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to make it more transparent and highlight the rustication trails. I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and give it a shine. The photos below show the pipe at this stage in the process. I broke up the oxidation and calcification on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. There were some small tooth marks and chatter under the buildup that the sandpaper took care of as I worked on the stem.I cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol, bristle pipe cleaners and regular pipe cleaners. I picked out the debris in the slot with a dental pick. It did not take too long to get the stem clean.I polished the vulcanite 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 after each set of three pads. I gave it a final coat of oil after the 12000 grit pad and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back in place on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining scratches in the briar and the stem. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it on the wheel with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine on the briar and vulcanite. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am uncertain of the age of the pipe but I figure that when Troy reads this he may be able to give me a clear picture of the age of the pipe. Thanks for looking.