Restoring a Square Shank BBB Two Star Apple Shaped Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is another pipe from the estate of a Vancouver pipe smoker whose widow left them with a local Pipe Shop. I was asked to clean them and sell them for the shop. The photos show the pipe when I brought it to my work table. It is a nice BBB Square Shank Apple with a smooth finish. The bowl was heavily caked with a lava coat on the top of the rim. It was hard to tell how the inner and outer edge of the rim actually looked until the bowl was reamed. The exterior of the bowl was dirty and covered with grime dust in the deep grooves of the finish. The stem had the same tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button as the rest of the pipes in this estate. There was calcification on the first inch from what looked like a Softee bit. The stem has the BBB Diamond S logo on the top. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank with the words BBB in a Diamond with a * on either side. On the right side of the shank it is stamped London England over the shape number 696. It is has a square saddle stem with a flat blade. When I went back to the States after Christmas to visit my parents and brothers I took a box of these pipes with me so that I could have Jeff clean them for me. When they came back to Canada they looked like different pipes. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime on the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. When it came back to Vancouver it was a quite different pipe. I took pictures of it to show the condition at this point – the bowl looked great and the stem was lightly oxidized. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean out the bowl completely and the rim top. He removed the tars and lava and left behind a clean top that showed all of the original rustication and looked very good. The stem was lightly oxidized and there was tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button and on the surface edges of the button itself.I worked on five of the pipes from that estate at the same time. I put all of the stems in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak. I submerged them all of the stems in the bath and let them soak overnight to break down the oxidation.I took the stem out of the deoxidizer and rinsed it under warm water to rinse off the mixture. I blew air through the stem and ran water through it as well to rinse out the mixture there as well. The stem still had some oxidation spots but it was all on the surface as seen in the first two photos below. I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. One of the benefits of the lighter is that it burned off the sulfur on the surface of the stem. It did not take too much work for the vulcanite to return to its smooth condition. I sanded out the lighter tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sandpaper until there were two deep tooth marks on the underside of the stem that remained. I filled those in with clear super glue and laid the stem aside to let the repairs cure.I sanded the top of the rounded rim and the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the finish and remove some of the rim darkening. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit.While the repairs on the stem were curing I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the rusticated briar to clean, enliven and protect the finish. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl now. Once the repairs had dried/cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the bowl. The two large tooth marks on the underside of the stem took a bit of sanding to smooth them out but the tooth chatter disappeared quite quickly.I polished out the scratches in the vulcanite with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper and with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. After sanding with the 12000 grit pad I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. With each sanding pad and the polish I worked around the BBB medallion on the top of the stem so as not to smooth us the embossing on the brass. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a more aggressive buff of Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl multiple coats and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store very soon. It should make a nice addition to your pipe rack if you have been looking for a reasonably priced older BBB pipe with a smooth finish and interesting grain. It should be a great smoking pipe with a good hand feel. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this pipe over.

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