Daily Archives: January 1, 2020

The 1st Restoration of 2020 – An Ascorti Business KS Hand Made Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

On December 30th my family and I went to Bellingham – ostensibly to do a bit of Christmas shopping at the mall there, visit Trader Joe’s and a few other stops. I also wanted to get in one last pipe hunt for 2019. We ate breakfast at the Old Town Café on Holly Street in Old Bellingham. They have great food and a great atmosphere. Check it out.After breakfast the girls and I visited a few of my favourite antique malls in the area. One was closed but two were open and we were early customers. I went through the first one with care covering every shelf, display cabinet and nook and cranny and no pipes were to be found. That happens sometimes and I was wondering if the pipe hunt would end up being a bust. I rarely come away empty handed but there is always one of those days. We entered the second shop and after going through three aisles of display cases and coming up empty handed I entered the last aisle. There is a display case in that aisle that generally has a few pipes in it and potentially one of two of interest to me. It is the last part of the store I stop at and this day was no different. I came to the case and looked through the glass case at the lighters, knives, cheap meerschaums and corn cobs. I was beginning to wonder if it was going to be a bust. Then low and behold, underneath the stems of a cob and meerschaum I saw what looked like a briar.

I went to the counter to get the clerk to open the case for me so I could have a better look at the hidden pipe that I had seen. She left me to my hunting and I carefully moved the pipes that had been hiding the briar. It was a larger billiard with a rusticated finish and a smooth rim. I lifted it out of the case and turned it over in my hands. The pipe was dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some darkening on the smooth rim top. But on the smooth panels on the shank I saw the stamping the were readable. The left side read Ascorti Business KS and the right side read Hand Made Italy. The stem had the characteristic Ascorti A logo and their unique saddle cut. I did not even look at the price. I closed the case and carried my find up to the counter to seal the deal. We negotiated the price and when we came to an agreement the bill was paid and the pipe was mine! When I got to the car I took some photos o fthe pipe as it looked when I picked it up. I sent a copy of the photos to Jeff to show him my find. I took a close up photo of the rim top so Jeff could see its condition. There was a thick cake in the bowl – thicker from mid bowl to the bottom. The top of the bowl seems to have been reamed with a knife. There is some darkening and light lava on the smooth rim top. The acrylic stem photos show the tooth marks on both sides. Overall the tooth marks are light and should be able to be sanded smooth. There is one on the top side that is a little deeper and may need to be repaired. There is also some damage on the edge of the button that will need to be addressed.I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank and the saddle portion of the stem. The stamping is clear and reads Ascorti with the tail of the T forming a pipe. Underneath it is stamped Business followed by KS. The stamp on the stem is a classic Ascorti “A”. Most of the white that would have filled it in is worn off.Once I finished the last of Bob Kerr’s Dunhill pipes last evening I set this pipe aside as the pipe I would work on New Year’s Day. This morning I started by reaming the pipe. It had a rock had cake. I had to start the reaming with the smallest cutting head on the PipNet reamer and worked my way through three of the four cutting heads. That reamer usually does the job with a light cleanup from a pipe knife. But not this time! I used a KleenReem to take more of the cake back from the walls of the bowl and smooth out the hard spots. This was a tough cake. I finished with that and turned to the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining ridges and bumps in the walls around the airway at the bottom of the bowl. I sanded the walls of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped in 220 grit sandpaper. Finally I was able to remove the cake from the walls and leave them smooth. I took a photo of the reamed bowl and you can see how much cake was removed. It is a large bowl. You can also see the darkening and light lava coat on the inner edge and bevel of the bowl.I scrubbed the bowl and rim with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I was able to remove much of the grime from the rim top and the grooves and valleys of the sandblast finish. I rinsed it under warm running water to flush away the grime and dust in the soap. The following photos show the cleaned rim and bowl sides. I worked on the remaining debris and darkening on the rim top with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove all of it and leave behind a clean rim top.I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads to bring out the shine in the smooth briar. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped off the dust after each pad. I paused and took a photo of each side of the shank to show the stamping. The first photo shows the left side and the second shows the right side.I rubbed the bowl and rim down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the rim top and rusticated briar with my fingertips and with a horsehair shoebrush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed the pipe with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive.  I was in a rush to see what the rim and the finish looked like and almost overlooked cleaning out the inside of the pipe. Never to late to go back though! I cleaned out the mortise and airway in the shank and stem with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol.With the bowl done it was time to address the stem. The dents in the top and underside were not too deep. I would be able to sand out most of them and whatever remained give a light fill. I would also need to repaint the A logo on the left side of the saddle. I could not heat the stem with a lighter as acrylic does not have the “memory” of vulcanite so It does not work. I took photos of the stem as a reminder.I sanded the stem surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and was able to remove the majority of the dents in the stem surface. There was a deeper pit on the top side ahead of the button and on the right side of the button edge. I wiped down the areas that I was going to fill with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove the dust and debris. I filled them in with clear Krazy glue. I built up the damaged edge of the button on the underside as well.Once the repair had cured I sanded the surface of the stem and the button edges with 220 grit sandpaper to blend in the repairs. I started my polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sand paper.  I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. I have found it is a great pre-polish for my use as it shows me areas that I need to work on with the micromesh sanding pads. I decided to touch up the A on the left side of the stem before polishing the stem further. I used Paper Mate Liquid Paper and fill it into the deep grooves of the stamping with a tooth pick. Once it has dried I scrape off the excess with the tooth pick and polish it with micromesh sanding pads.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I buffed it with a soft cloth to raise a shine. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed it lightly with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise the shine on the briar and the acrylic stem. The buffing also removes minute scratches in the two materials and adds depth to the shine. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing wheel and then by hand with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe was alive now and look great to me. It has a great feel in the hand that is very tactile and should really pop when smoked. The bowl will also develop a deeper colour with smoking. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This rusticated Ascorti Business KS Italian Hand Made is a beauty should make someone a great pipe. It is one that will be on the rebornpipes store very soon. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This was an interesting pipe hunt find to bring back to life. Here’s to a year ahead of pipe restoration!

Restoring the Last of Bob Kerr’s Dunhills – a 1962 Dunhill Bruyere 656 F/T Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

As I continue to work through the pipes in Bob Kerr’s Estate I am enjoying choosing different brands that he had to focus on for a bit. I had eight more from his Dunhill collection that I decided to go back to and finish working my way through that sub collection of the estate. Out of the 8 pipes six were Bruyere finished pipes, one was a Made in London (turns out it is also a Bruyere finished pipe), and one was a Root Briar. What follows is a list of what I saw when I examined the 8 pipes. As I finish the pipes I will include the link to the blog on that particular pipe for easy reference. I have already restored 16 pipes from this subgroup so you can do a quick search to read about the work on the Shell Briars and Tanshell Briars that were in that part of the collection.

  1. Bruyere 656 F/T Made in England 2 Circle 4A – Group 4 size Bruyere made in 1962. Saddle stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge. Appears to have a tenon made for a 9mm filter.
  2. Bruyere 112 F/T Made in England 9/11 Circle 2A – Group 2 size Bruyere made in 1969 and sold in 1971. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge. I finished the restoration on it. Here is the link to the blog – (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/12/28/restoring-a-1969-dunhill-bruyere-112-f-t-apple-from-bob-kerrs-estate/).
  3. Bruyere 0333 Made in England 16 made in 1976. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge. I finished the restoration on it. Here is the link to the blog – (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/12/29/restoring-a-1976-dunhill-bruyere-0333-billiard-from-bob-kerrs-estate/).
  4. Bruyere 41061 Made in England 18 made in 1978. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge. I finished the restoration on it. Here is the link to the blog – (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/12/24/restoring-a-1978-dunhill-bruyere-41061-from-bob-kerrs-estate/).
  5. Bruyere 142 F/T Made in England 7/9/11 Circle 4A – Group for size Bruyere made in 1967 and sent out in 1969 or 1971. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge. I finished the restoration on it. Here is the link to the blog – https://rebornpipes.com/2019/12/27/restoring-a-1967-dunhill-bruyere-142-f-t-billiard-from-bob-kerrs-estate/
  6. (A) Dunill London Inner Tube PAT N°5861/12 Shape 34. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge. I finished the restoration on it. Here is the link to the blog – (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/12/26/restoring-a-1913-a-dunhill-london-34-billiard-from-bob-kerrs-estate/).
  7. (Ao) Dunhill London 113 Made in England 5 PAT N°158709/14. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged rim edges. I finished the restoration on it. Here is the link to the blog – (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/12/25/restoring-a-1925-ao-dunhill-london-113-billiard-from-bob-kerrs-estate/).
  8. Root Briar 31032 Made in England 18 – made in 1978. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge. I finished the restoration on it. Here is the link to the blog – (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/12/23/restoring-a-1978-dunhill-root-briar-31032-billiard-from-bob-kerrs-estate/).

I finished work on #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 & #8 and turned my attention to sole remaining Dunhill in Bob’s Collection #1, another heavily used pipe but this time a Bent Billiard shaped pipe with a saddle stem. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with the shape number 656 F/T next to the bowl/shank junction. That is followed by Dunhill over Bruyere. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in England 2 followed by circle 4A. It appears that the pipe stamped as this one is was made in 1962. The 656 F/T is a Bent Billiard with a fish tail (F/T) saddle stem. The circle 4 is the group/size of the pipe and A is the designation for Bruyere. This is the last pipe that I have to work on from the Dunhill collection.

I am once again including Chuck Stanion’s eloquent description of the Bruyere on the smokingpipes.com site as follows (https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/new/dunhill/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=346421):

The Bruyere was Alfred Dunhill’s original finish upon launching his brand of premium pipes and smoking accessories and was the only Dunhill finish from 1910 until 1917. Even after the addition of other finishes, the Bruyere maintained a high level of popularity, becoming synonymous with what is thought of, even today, as the quintessential pipe. To achieve the iconic, ruby hue and saturation, a skilled craftsman painstakingly layers particular stains in a precise manner, then meticulously polishes the pipe to a high luster. The final result is, simply put, timeless.

Like Bob’s other Dunhill pipe this one also had a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a thick lava overflow on the rim so it was hard to know what kind of damage lay beneath the covering. Once it was cleaned I would have a better idea of the condition of the rim top. The grain that is poking through the grime and oils appears to be quite beautiful – birdseye grain on the bowl sides and cross grain on the front and back as well as the heel of the bowl. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end with some tooth chatter. There were also some tooth marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button and on the button itself. There was the classic White Spot on the top of the stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it.  Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thick, hard cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls of the bowl. There was a thick lava build up on the smooth rim top and the edges of the bowl. The rim top and inner edges looked pretty good but it was hard to know for sure. The outer edges looked to be okay.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain patterns around the sides of the bowl and shank. Even under the dirt and debris of the years it looked very good.     The stamping is very readable. On the left side of the shank you can see 656 F/T which is the shape number. Next to that it is stamped Dunhill over Bruyere. On the right side it reads Made in England2 and a circle 4A. Jeff included a pic of the White Spot on the stem.     Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching, calcification and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button.      I can’t begin tell you how great it feels to have Jeff’s help on cleaning up the pipes from Bob’s estate as the 125+ pipes were taking me a long time to do alone. In fact I doubt if I would have as many finished as I do now. Together we have restored over 60 pipes and Jeff has cleaned all of the remaining pipes for me. He cleaned this filthy pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I was looking forward to seeing what he had done with this one when I took it out of his box. It looked amazing and CLEAN. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks good with great looking grain around the bowl and shank. The rim top looked better on this pipe. The condition of the inner and outer edges was not too bad. The stem looked a lot better. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. The pipe was ready for me to carry on the next part of the process. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up and what needed to be done. The rim top was in remarkable condition. It was probably the best preserved rim top of the last 9 pipes I have worked on. There was some darkening all around the top of the bowl and on the inner edge. There was some burn damage on the left side of the inner edge but it was in good condition. The outer edge looked very good.  I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter on the stem surface.  The stamping appeared to be as clear as it was before the cleanup work. This is just one of the things I appreciate about Jeff’s cleanup is that he works to protect and preserve the nomenclature on the shank of the pipes that he works on. I took some photos to show the stamping. Bob loved his Dunhill pipes and it was obvious that he enjoyed smoking them. Some appeared to be daily smokes while others he seemed to reserve for special occasions. Some seemed like they must have hung in his mouth while he did his carving while others were smoked in his chair. Having worked on over 60 of his pipes so far I am getting a feel for them. This one is in rough condition and I suppose it might well have been before Bob took up the trust. I suppose I won’t ever know for sure but it certainly has a long and interesting story if it could only tell it.

I am sure that many of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that I have done on previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. Bob’s daughter wrote a short tribute to her father. I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

It was time to get on with the restoration of this Dunhill Bruyere 656 F/T Bent Billiard. It is not only the last of the Dunhill pipes from Bob’s Estate but it was the only bent Bruyere in the collection. I want to send a shout out to Jeff for the hard cleanup work that he does on each of these pipes. They were a real mess when I sent them to Jeff and I have to tell you it was great that I can start my part of the process with a clean pipe. I decided to start the process by dealing with the the burn damage to the left inner edge of the bowl. I generally try to minimize the intrusiveness of the work on the rim and the inner edge. It was burned on the edge of the left side. I use a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to carefully bevel the inner rim with a slight bevel all the way around. The second photo shows the rim edge after the work of beveling the inner edge has been completed. I polished it lightly with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the briar on the rim top and bowl with worn micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I find that the worn pads do a great job polishing and still retain the original patina of the pipe.   I rubbed the bowl and rim down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed the pipe with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive.     With the bowl done it was time to address the stem. I was a little surprised as not only was this the last of Bob’s  Dunhill’s but it was also the only one that had a tenon made to accommodate a 9mm filter. The dents in the top and underside were the right depth for me to lift them. I “painted” the surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the dents and it worked exceptionally well.    I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the light chatter in the stem surface and the remaining oxidation in the vulcanite. I polished it with 400 grit wet dry sand paper.  I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. I have a few tins of this laying around so I am trying to use them up. I have found it is a great pre-polish for my use as it shows me areas that I need to work on with the micromesh sanding pads.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I finished by rubbing the stem down with some “No Oxy Oil” to protect the vulcanite. I am experimenting with the product from Briarville and tracking how it works so I can write a review of it. Finishing this pipe is a perfect way to end my restorations for 2019. It is the last of Bob Kerr’s Estate Dunhill Collection. It is a beautiful Dunhill Bruyere 656F/T Bent Billiard made in 1962. Like each of the pipes in Bob’s estate I really look forward to this point in the process when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 grain around the bowl and shank really came alive with the wax and polish. The black of the saddle vulcanite White Spot stem is a beautiful contrast to the reds and browns of the finished bowl and shank. This was another Dunhill that was a lot of fun to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This 1962 Bruyere Bent Billiard is a beauty should last for many more years. It is one that will be on the rebornpipes store very soon. If you are interested let me know. I have a lot more of Bob’s estate to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.