Daily Archives: November 9, 2019

Cleaning up an English Made Kaywoodie Air-way 707 Diplomat


Blog by Steve Laug

On our recent trip to Alberta we picked up quite a few pipes that were really nice. Some of them were brands we were familiar with and some were pipes that were unknown and unidentifiable. But if you are a pipe hunter you know the feeling when you are holding a particular pipe, no matter what the brand and it just speaks to you. That is what happened with this next pipe. It was in a display case at an antique mall in Edmonton. The shape of the pipe, the wind cap that was an integral part of the rim top and the interesting staining that highlighted some unique grain called my name. The stamping on the top of the shank read Kaywoodie over Air-way and on the underside it was stamped London, England and the shape number 707. It was a shape I had not seen before and the wind cap mechanism was a new one for me as well. The fact that it was an English made Kaywoodie also insure that it was going home with me. I have drawn a red box around the pipe at the top of the column on the right.The grain under the dirty finish was unique and the finish was interesting. The diplomat shape is one that I enjoy smoking and it has a good feel in the hand. The rim top was truly unique. The wind cap was fascinated on the rim top and the screen can be swiveled to the left to open the bowl. The bowl itself had a think cake in the bowl and the inside of the bowl and rim edges looked very good. The finish was dirty but still in good condition under the grime. The vulcanite stem was so heavily oxidized that it was butterscotch colour. It had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There were some small cracks and the slot was slightly collapsed on the left side. The Kaywoodie club logo on the top of the saddle stem was a white circle with a black club inside. I took close up photos of the wind screen mechanism on the rim top with it open and closed to show how it worked. You can see the condition of the bowl in the second photo below.I took photos of the stem showing the deep oxidation and tooth chatter on both sides near the button. You can also see the small cracks on the top side of the button. It is thin so it easily was chipped and cracked when clenched.I took some photos of the stamping on the shank. The first photo shows the Kaywoodie Air-Way stamp and the white circle/black club insert on the stem top. The second photo shows the London, England and shape number 707 on the underside of the shank.I took a closer look at the inside of the bowl and took a photo. It was dirty but very lightly caked.I took a photo of the pipe with the push stem removed from the shank. The stinger was different from the usual Kaywoodie stinger. It had a ball on the end of the stinger but no holes in it. There was a ring around the stinger just above the tenon insert and a slotted hole. Before doing cleanup work on the pipe I decided to do some research on the pipe. I looked first on the Pipephil website and found some information on the white circle/black club stamp on the top of the stem. I did a screen capture of the pertinent information on the logo itself (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-kaywoodie.html). From there I learned that the logo was used first in 1937 and up until the late 1940s for the higher grade pipes. Also until the late 40s early 50s the logo was on top of the stem.

There was no other information on the Air-way line on the site and nothing under the section on the London/British made Kaywoodie pipes. That meant I would need to turn elsewhere to find that information. This would be an interesting hunt and restoration.

I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Kaywoodie) and read the section on the rough outline on the history of the brand that links the brand with the English section of the company. I quote:

Again, demand for KBB pipes and especially Kaywoodie prompted another move for both the manufacturing facilities and the corporate offices. In 1930 the corporate office moved into the Empire State Building on Fifth Avenue in New York. By 1935, the manufacturing operations moved from Union City to 6400 Broadway in West New York, New Jersey which, at the time, was touted as the largest pipe making facility in the world. At the height of production, there were 500 employees producing up to 10,000 pipes per day.

The corporate offices were relocated in 1936 to the International Building, Rockefeller Center, 630 Fifth Avenue, New York. The invitation to visit the new office reads, “Kaywoodie is now on display at the world’s most famous address – Rockefeller Center. Here Kaywoodie takes its place among the leaders of industry and commerce.” The move to Rockefeller Center coincided with The Kaywoodie Company’s emergence as a subsidiary of KBB. All of the pipes manufactured by KBB including the Yello-Bole line were also on display here. By 1938 Kaywoodie had opened an office in London to meet worldwide demand. Kaywoodie of London was jointly owned with another famous pipemaker, Comoy’s of London.

I am also including a screen capture of a picture of a pipe that is the same shape as the one that I am working on. Thanks to Doug Valitchka for the photo.From there I turned to a link on the article to a section called Guide to Kaywoodie Pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Collector%27s_Guide_to_Kaywoodie_Pipes#NOTES_ON_.22OTHER.E2.80.9D_KAYWOODIE_PIPES).  It gave some pertinent information on the Air-way line. I quote two sections from that article below. I have highlighted the Air-way brand name in the second paragraph.

English Kaywoodies. All of the catalogs reviewed in this research contained the following copyright notification: Printed in U.S.A., Kaufmann Bros. and Bondy, Inc., New York and London. Kaywoodie Pipe cases and smoker’s accessories were also marked with “New York and London”. The catalogs, however, do not present any information concerning Kaywoodie’s London operations, or how the English Kaywoodies might have differed from those manufactured and marketed in the U.S. Lowndes notes that he has several English Kaywoodies acquired in

Vaduz and Zurich. English Kaywoodies are now made by Oppenheimer pipes. Lowndes notes that English Kaywoodies with the “screw-in bit” come in Ruby Grain, Custom Grain, Standard, and Relief Grain grades. The traditional push-bit models come in Continental Plain and Relief, London Made, Minaret, Air-way Polished No. 707, and Lightweight grades. Prices in 1985 ranged from 9.50 (pounds) to 26.00 (pounds). Lowndes notes that the Super Star was a special edition English Kaywoodie made of finest briar with a handmade silver band. Lowndes has two: one from Zurich with a large white-outlined logo, and beautifully cased; and one in walnut finish with the black-­in-white logo. A recent catalog shows the Super Star without a band and the ordinary small white logo. A 1985 letter from Oppenheimer states that the black-in-white logo has been discontinued and only the regular white logo is now used.

From that information I now knew that the pipe in hand was made prior to 1985 in London by Oppenheimer. It had a traditional push-bit rather than the threaded screw in bit. After 1985 Oppenheimer discontinued the black in white logo. It was time to work on the pipe now. I scraped the shank with a pen knife to remove the tarry buildup that did not allow the stem to seat properly. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took some close up photos of the cleaned button and slot to show how it had a crack and had been collapsed slightly on the left side of the top.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Before & After Briar Cleaner. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for a short time to absorb the grime. I rinsed it down under warm water to remove the grime debris that was collected in the cleaner. At the same time I used a tooth brush to scrub out the inside of the bowl and rinsed it. I dried the bowl off with a soft cotton cloth and lightly polished it. I worked some Before and After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar. I rubbed it into the briar to restore, preserve and polish the briar. I let it sit on the bowl for about 10 minutes and buffed it off with cotton cloth. It was getting late so I set the polished bowl aside for the night and put the stem into a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak overnight. In the morning I would take it out and start working on the stem.I took it out of the bath in the morning and wiped it down with a microfiber cloth. Much of the oxidation on the surface came off. I used a Scotch Brite pad to scrub off the oxidation. You can see from the photos that some still remained.I put it back in the bath overnight again to see what would happen. When I took it out it looked better but there was still a lot of work to do with it.I decided to address the damaged button on the top edge. The top edge of the button had collapsed partially into the slot. There were small cracks on the surface. I have used clear super glue in the past to address this but I had an idea for an experiment. I heated the blade of a dental spatula and inserted it into the slot. I repeated the process several times until I had the slot opened and lined up. I touched the heated blade to the cracks on the top of the button and stem and to the tooth mark on the underside. The tooth marks disappeared and the cracks were sealed with the heat welding the pieces together. Whereas before the repair I could not insert a pipe cleaner, I now could slide it in and out with ease.I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and tooth chatter. I started polishing it with 400 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches.I polished the stem surface with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to polish out the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. It also works well to remove stubborn oxidation in the saddle and along the edge of the button. It worked really well to remove the oxidation and leave the stem looking far better.I polished out the remaining scratches in the stem material with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped down the stem after each pad with some Obsidian Oil. Once I used the last pad – 12000 grit – I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish, both Fine and Extra Fine. I used a new product I am trying for Briarville called No Oxy Oil to give the stem a final wipe down and polish. I put the stem back on the pipe and polished both pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I avoided the wind screen with the buffing wheel. I gave the pipe several coats of Carnauba Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a soft cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The original stain looks really good and the polishing brought the grain back to life. The contrasting rich brown finish highlight the grain and contrasts well with the black vulcanite stem. The Air-way Diplomat is a beautiful pipe that really has the look of an English made pipe. The tie to Oppenheimer is clear in looking at the shape of the pipe and the finish. The black metal wind screen with the flip screen cover is unique and seems very functional. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 4 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I left the stinger out of the shank because I plan keeping this unique English made Kaywoodie for my own collection. It tics all the boxes for me – shape, finish, grain, etc.  I am looking forward to loading a bowl in it and enjoying a great smoke. I will carry on the legacy! Thanks for reading the blog.

 

A Quick Cleanup of a Big Ben Crosley Sandblast Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is another one from our recent trip to Alberta. In the lot of pipes that we picked up there were a lot of interesting pieces that were new to me. Some of them were brands we were familiar with and some were pipes that were unknown and unidentifiable. But if you are a pipe hunter you know the feeling when you are holding a particular pipe, no matter what the brand and it just speaks to you. That is what happened with this next pipe. It was in a display case at an antique mall in Edmonton. The shape of the pipe, the rugged sandblast and the contrasting brown stains that highlighted some unique grain called my name. The stamping on a smooth panel on the left side of the shank read Big Ben over Crosley over Made in Holland and on the underside at the stem shank union it was stamped with the shape number 534CR. It had a craggy sandblast that was quite stunning. I have drawn a red box around the pipe at the top of the column on the right.The grain under the dirty sandblast finish was a combination of swirls and birdseye. The rim top was very clean and there was no cake in the bowl. The inner and outer rim edges looked very good. The finish was dirty but still in good condition under the grime. The high grade vulcanite stem was clean and there was a TV logo in gold on the stem. It had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. I took photos of the rim top and bowl to show the condition of the pipe when I started. It looked amazingly good. I also took photos of the stem showing the light oxidation and tooth chatter on both sides near the button.I took some photos of the stamping on the shank. The first photo shows the Big-Ben Crosley Made in Holland stamp and the white TV stamp on the left side of the  saddle stem. The second photo shows the shape number 534CR on the underside of the shank at the stem/shank junction.I took the stem off the shank and there was a 9mm filter in the shank. The photo shows the 9MM tenon and the dirty Big Ben Filter that was still in the pipe. You can also see the tooth chatter on the underside of the stem and the grime in the grooves of the deep sandblast on the side of the bowl. Before doing cleanup work on the pipe I decided to do some research on the pipe. I looked first on the Pipephil website and found some information on the TV stamp on the left side of the saddle stem. I did a screen capture to show the same logo on a Big Ben Challenger pipe (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-bigben.html#challenger). There was no listing for the Big-Ben Crosley line.I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Big_Ben) and read the section on the brand prior to the buyout by Gubbels & Zonen B.V. I quote:

The brand name Big Ben was originally owned by a small trade company in Amsterdam which was already well established in several countries selling pipes among other goods. The firm was bought by Elbert Gubbels & Zonen B.V. – see Gubbels – who were in search for a suitable brand name to further expansion on international markets. Big Ben became Gubbels’ mainstay brand with its own website.

I turned to the section on Pipedia on Gubbels (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Gubbels) to draw some background. I quote a pertinent section of the article that describes the acquisition of the brand from Big Ben in Holland.

…The production grew steadily but it showed now that an “international” brand name was required for further expansion on international markets – obviously no one cared too much for pipes made in the Netherlands. Feeling that the time involved to get a new brand established was too lengthy, Mr. Gubbels bought a small trade company in Amsterdam which owned all the rights to the brand Big Ben and was already well established in other countries selling pipes among other goods. A real happenstance – Gubbels products could be marketed now in all European countries, the USA, Canada and many other countries, and nowadays they can be found in almost every country world-wide.

In December 1972 the company opened new and very modern factory in Roermond at Keulsebaan 505. With the official opening by the Governor of the Province of Limburg, the Gubbels company was, on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, granted the title “Royal” so that the official name became: Elbert Gubbels & Zonen – Koninklijke Fabriek van Tabakspijpen (Elbert Gubbels & Sons – Royal Dutch Pipe Factory). In honour of this title, a new brand was designed and named Royal Dutch. This brand was also created, to negate the belief that Big Ben was of English origin.

At the end of the 1970’s, there were only two briar pipe factories in the Benelux countries: Gubbels in the Netherlands and Hillen in Bree, Belgium. When the latter encountered major financial difficulties in 1980, Gubbels bought the company together with its brand Hilson – a well established brand, which was selling better on the most important German market than Gubbels’ mainstay Big Ben. The factory in Bree was closed soon, so Gubbels is presently the only briar pipe producer in the Benelux countries. (Exept less than a handful of pipemakers!)

I now knew a lot about the company and what it stood for but I still did not clearly know if it was a pre-Gubbels pipe or after the purchase. Ah well, it is an interesting brand nonetheless. I turned now to work on the pipe. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Before & After Briar Cleaner. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and a tooth brush to get it into the nooks and crannies of the blast. I let it sit for a short time to absorb the grime. I rinsed it down under warm water to remove the grime debris that was collected in the cleaner. At the same time I used a tooth brush to scrub out the inside of the bowl and rinsed it. I dried the bowl off with a soft cotton cloth and lightly polished it. I worked some Before and After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar. I rubbed it into the briar with a horse hair shoe brush to restore, preserve and polish the briar. I let it sit on the bowl for about 10 minutes and buffed it off with cotton cloth. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It was quite dirty in the shank with oils and also in the wide opening of the 9MM tenon. It did not take too long to clean it however.I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation, tooth marks and tooth chatter. I started polishing it with 400 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches.I replaced the Big Ben filter with a 9MM filter from Vauen. It is the same size and is probably made by the same manufacturer.I polished out the remaining scratches in the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped down the stem after each pad with some Obsidian Oil. Once I used the last pad – 12000 grit – I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish, both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and polished both pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I used a light touch on the briar to avoid filling in the crevices with the polishing compound. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of Carnauba Wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a soft cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The original contrasting brown stains look really good and the polishing brought the contrasts back to life. The contrasting rich brown finish highlight the grain and contrasts well with the black vulcanite stem. The Big-Ben Crosley is a beautiful pipe that really has the flaired saddle of a typical Dutch made Big-Ben pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This craggy sandblasted Big-Ben Crosley is a great looking pipe and different from other Big-Ben pipes I have restored. It will be a great smoking pipe for someone to carry on the legacy of the pipeman who first purchased it and smoked it! Thanks for reading the blog.