New Life for a BBB Tortoise Canted Square Shank Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

It was time to work on one of the pipes that Jeff and I purchased from a guy in Pennsylvania. The next pipe on my worktable comes from that collection. This one is a canted Dublin with a long square shank and a saddle stem. The rim topped is worn and dirty but it appears that the shape follows the grain of the block of briar very well. It is stamped on the left side of the shank BBB in a diamond over Tortoise and on the right side it is stamped London, England and the shape number 719. The stem has a BBB Diamond medallion on the topside of the saddle. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. From the photos there seemed to be some damage to the inner edge at the front of the bowl but I could not be sure. Other than being dirty the finish appeared to be in good condition. The stem was pearlized white. There was some light tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button. I have included 3 photos that the seller sent to me to give an idea of what Jeff and I saw when we were deciding to purchase the pipe. We had the pipe lot shipped to Jeff in the US so he could do the cleanup on them for me. He took photos of the pipe before he started working on it so I could see what he was dealing with. I am including those now. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava. The cake is thick and hard and the lava overflow is a thick band around the bowl. The bowl is a real mess. This must have been a great smoking pipe. There appears to be a damaged spot on the front bevel of the inner edge.The next photo shows the side and bottom of the bowl to give a clear picture of the beauty of the mixed grain around the bowl of the pipe. Under the grime some great grain peeks through.Jeff took photos of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. The brand and the shape number are very readable. He also took a photo of the BBB Diamond Medallion on the stem top. The pearlized, tortoise stem looked dirty and there were some light bite marks and tooth chatter on the stem.The BBB Tortoise was a line of BBB pipes that came with a pearlized stem that almost looked like it was made of abalone. It was acrylic of some sort but has the softness of vulcanite. It is remarkable material.

I turned to address the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe for me. He 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 off 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. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and was able to remove much of the oxidation. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean up the incredibly thick cake and lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl photos above. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar. There was a deep burn gouge on the front edge of the rim. There was some darkening around the inner bevel of the bowl. The outer edge and the rim top looked very good. The stem was much cleaner than before. There was some staining just ahead of the button. The tenon was a replacement – a black Delrin tenon. The clear white pearlized stem shows the black of the tenon through the back edge of the saddle on both the top and bottom side.I took a close up of the dark spot in the back end of the saddle. It is not a hole or a drill through. It is really the black of the Delrin replacement tenon reflecting through the translucent pearlized stem material. I have to say it is ugly but it not damaging and in no way effects the smoke.I decided to address the bowl first. I worked on both the rim damage and try to minimise the burn damage on the front inner bevel of the rim. I worked on the inner edge of the rim first using a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper smooth out the damage, bevel the inner edge and bring the bowl back as close as possible to round.Once I beveled the inner edge of the rim to bring it back to round, I decided to continue my ongoing experiment with a new product from Mark Hoover of Before & After Products. This one is a product he labels briar cleaner and it has the capacity of absorbing grime and dirt from the surface of briar. I rubbed the bowl down with some of his Briar Cleaner to see how it would work in this setting. In speaking to Mark he noted that the product is completely safe to use. The main product is even FDA approved edible. I rubbed it onto the bowl and rim top with my finger tips and worked it into the grime and grit on the bowl. I let it sit on the pipe for about 5 minutes before I rubbed it off with a microfibre cloth. I rinsed it under warm running water to remove the residue. I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the surface on the bowl looked when I was finished. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. It also helps to blend the newly stained areas in to the surrounding briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the briar. After it sat for a little while I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem at this point in the process. I sanded the light tooth chatter on the stem with folded pieces of 220. The marks came off very easily. I rolled a piece and sanded the back edge of the saddle on both sides where the dark mark was. I took photos of the stem from various angles to give a clear picture. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to enliven and protect the stem material. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the pearlized, white stem even after the micromesh regimen. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.  I put the stem back on the pipe and took the pipe to the buffer. I worked it over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl 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 really well and even the newly beveled rim top looked good. I was happy with the results of the reworking of the rim. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The unique canted Dublin shape is a beauty and unlike any of the BBB Tortoise pipes that I have restored. It is a very stunning looking pipe with the mixed grain and the pearlized, white stem. The polished stem looks really good with the browns of the briar. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is another pipe that I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!

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