Daily Archives: March 26, 2020

New Life for a Mystery BBB Custom Made Zulu


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my table is actually a strange one and a bit of a mystery to me. It is a nicely shaped and grained Zulu. The mystery does not come in the shape but in the composition of the pipe and the stamping on the shank. The stem is threaded onto an inset metal tenon that is a part of the spacer on the shank end. The tenon is unmovable and the stem screws onto it. I have never seen that on a British made BBB pipe. Then the stamping, other than the BBB Diamond on the topside of the shank looks like every other American made pipe of that time period. The stamping reads on the topside of the shank as follows: a BBB Diamond over Custom Made in a Germanic script and underneath that is R in a circle (there are pictures of the stamping below). On the underside of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 47 on the flat heel of the bowl followed by Aged Imported Briar in the same Germanic Script. The Imported Briar has always been a sign of an American Made pipe to me so therein laid the mystery. Is it really a BBB from England or is it another BBB brand that is American? I am hoping to demystify it a bit in the process of this restoration

It is a dirty pipe but has some great grain that the carver built the shape around. The finish is in good shape under the dirt and even the rim top looks good. The inner edge of the rim is darkened the bowl is out of round. There was burn damage to the inner edge. There is a thick cake in the bowl and a thick lava coat on the rim top. The rim top also appeared to have some pitting and nicks in the surface. The stem is pitted and oxidized. It has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took these photos before he cleaned the pipe.Jeff unscrewed the stem from the shank so that I could see the tenon set up and it is pretty clear that it was set in the shank.Jeff took photos of the rim top from various angles to give a clear picture of the condition of the bowl and rim. It is dirty but there is no lava coat on the top and the rim edges look very good. The grain around the sides and heel of the bowl is quite interesting. It is a combination of cross grain, swirled and birdseye grain. The stamping on both sides of the shank is very readable as can be seen in the next three photos.The stem shows pitting and oxidation on the surface as well as light tooth marks and chatter on both sides. There is some wear on the edge of the button as well. The stem shows a great profile.I looked through all of my resources for BBB pipes and could find nothing even remotely like this pipe. I looked on both Pipephil and Pipedia for other brands with similar stamping and again found nothing. Even with the lack of information it was time to get working on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. It had come back amazingly clean. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up – reaming, scrubbing, soaking and the result was evident in the pipe when I unpacked it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took some photos of the rim top to show the condition of the edges and the bowl. It looked very good. The stem actually looked much better than I expected and the tooth chatter seemed to have disappeared. There were some light tooth marks just next to the button edge on both sides.I am including photos of the stamping to show how Jeff preserved it during the cleanup and it did not fade or show damage.I decided to address the damage to the rim top and inner edge first. I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a hard topping board I use. I followed up by working over the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the edge a light bevel and minimize as much of the damage as I could. With the inner edge and top cleaned up the bowl looked significantly better. 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 to remove the dust.     I blended three stain pens together to get a match to the colour of the bowl – Walnut, Cherry and Black. The colour combination worked very well to make it look original. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips. I let the balm sit on the briar for 10 minutes the buffed it off with a soft cloth. The balm enlivens, enriches and protects the briar while giving it a deep glow. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and the remnants of oxidation especially in the saddle area. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. It is a gritty red paste (similar in grit to red Tripoli) that I rub on with my finger tips and work it into the surface of the stem and button and buff it off with a cotton pad. It gives me a bit of a head start on the polishing work.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I buffed the stem with a soft cloth to raise the shine. I wiped the stem down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the stem surface. Once again I am at my favourite part of a restoration – finishing up a pipe! This BBB Custom Made Zulu came out really well considering the condition it was in when I started. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I polished it with multiple coats of carnauba wax on both the bowl and stem. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and with a hand buff with a microfibre cloth. The mix of colours and the buffing made the grain really pop once it was waxed. The cross grain, swirled and birdseye grain are quite stunning. The silver coloured spacer and the polished black vulcanite saddle stem stands out in great contrast to the briar. It is really a beautiful pipe. Have a look at the photos below of the finished pipe. Its dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside Diameter of the Bowl: 1¼ inches, Diameter of the Chamber: ¾ of an inch. The Mystery brand pipe is comfortable handful and feels great in the hand. This one will be going on the rebornpipes store later today. You can add it to your collection and carry on the trust. Let me know if you are interested in adding it. Thanks for your time.

Breathing Life into Barontini Diamante 302 Oom Paul


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my table is a Barontini Oom Paul. It is a beautifully grained piece of briar. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Barontini over Diamante. On the right side it has the shape number 302. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Italy. It is a dirty pipe but has some great grain that the carver built the shape around. The finis is in good shape under the dirt and even the rim top looks good. The inner edge of the rim is darkened but appears to be undamaged. There is a medium cake in the bowl – thicker toward the bottom half of the bowl. The stem is oxidized and has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took these photos before he cleaned the pipe. Jeff took photos of the rim top from various angles to give a clear picture of the condition of the bowl and rim. It is dirty but there is no lava coat on the top and the rim edges look very good. The grain around the sides and heel of the bowl is quite stunning. It is a combination of cross grain and birdseye grain. The stamping on both sides of the shank is very readable as can be seen in the next two photos.The stem shows some calcification and oxidation on the surface as well as light tooth marks and chatter on both sides. There is some wear on the edge of the button as well. The stem shows a great profile and the bend is perfect for the Oom Paul shape. I have worked on a few Barontini pipes in the past and have always found that they are well made and quite stunning. I turned to a previous blog I wrote on a Barontini DeLuxe Brandy. I had done a bit of research on the brand and will include that information here as well (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/09/08/70642/).

I looked up some information on the brand on the Pipephil website to get a quick overview of the history (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-b2.html).  I did a screen capture of the listing for the brand. The fascinating thing that I learned in this quick overview was the connection to the entire Barontini family and to other companies like Aldo Velani. It is interesting to see the breadth of the brand in the following screen capture…Pipedia gives further history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barontini,_Ilio) under the listing for Ilio Barontini. I quote that article in full as it has the connection to the De Luxe pipe that I am working on.

Cesare Barontini, who was in charge of the Barontini Company since 1955, helped his cousin Ilio Barontini to establish a pipe production of his own.

Ilio started to produce machine-made series pipes of the lower to the middle price categories. Fatly 80% of the pipes went to foreign countries, the bulk being produced for various private label brands. Some of the own lines like “de Luxe”, “Etna” or “Vesuvio” gained a certain popularity. Citation: “Next to excellent craftsmanship Ilio Barontini pipes offer a wood quality, that is almost unrivalled in this price category!”.

The pipes being around still there were some unconfirmed utterances that Ilio Barontini brand has been absorbed by Cesare Barontini or even Savinelli. Who knows?

Fueled by that information it was time to get working on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. It had come back amazingly clean. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up – reaming, scrubbing, soaking and the result was evident in the pipe when I unpacked it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took some photos of the rim top to show the condition of the edges and the bowl. It looked very good. The stem actually looked much better than I expected and the tooth chatter seemed to have disappeared. There were some light tooth marks just next to the button edge on both sides.I am including photos of the stamping to show how Jeff preserved it during the cleanup and it did not fade or show damage.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 to remove the dust. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips. I let the balm sit on the briar for 10 minutes the buffed it off with a soft cloth. The balm enlivens, enriches and protects the briar while giving it a deep glow. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and the remnants of oxidation especially in the saddle area. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. It is a gritty red paste (similar in grit to red Tripoli) that I rub on with my finger tips and work it into the surface of the stem and button and buff it off with a cotton pad. It gives me a bit of a head start on the polishing work. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I buffed the stem with a soft cloth to raise the shine. I wiped the stem down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the stem surface. Once again I am at my favourite part of a restoration – finishing up a pipe! This one came out really well. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I polished it with multiple coats of carnauba wax on both the bowl and stem. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and with a hand buff with a microfibre cloth. The grain really popped when I buffed it and waxed it. The cross grain and birdseye grain are quite stunning. The polished black vulcanite saddle stem stands out in great contrast to the briar. It is really a beautiful pipe. Have a look at the photos below of the finished pipe. Its dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside Diameter of the Bowl: 1¼ inches, Diameter of the Chamber: ¾ of an inch. The pipe is comfortable handful and feels great in the hand. This one will be going on the rebornpipes store later today. You can add it to your collection and carry on the trust. Let me know if you are interested in adding it. Thanks for your time.

 

 

Sprucing Up a Meerschaum Teardrop Lattice Billiard


Blog Dal Stanton

I just completed an Aldo Velani from what I’ve called the St. Louis Lot of 26 (See: Refreshing a Saucy Italian Aldo Velani Trio Bent Apple) and the next pipe in queue is also from this Lot.  The Meerschaum just above the giant Champion Churchwarden’s bowl is on the worktable now.  My son, Josiah found this lot in an antique shop in St. Louis where he was studying.  He sent me a text here in Bulgaria about his find with pictures.  We went in together to purchase the lot with the provision that my son’s part of the purchase would be for me to pick a pipe out of the lot as a Christmas present from him.  I chose the giant Champion Churchwarden!  Other pipe men and women have chosen other pipes from this lot of treasures which are posted in the online collection, For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! .This is where Jeremiah, from the state of California, saw the Meerschaum and commissioned him back when my wife and I were enjoying the Black Sea during our summer R&R.  I appreciate Jeremiah’s patience as his pipe worked up the queue!  Here are more pictures taking a closer look at the Meerschaum Teardrop Lattice Billiard. There are no markings on the pipe.  The size of the Billiard shape is Length 5 5/16 inches, Height 1 5/8 inches, Rim width 1 1/8 inches, Chamber width 3/4 inches, Chamber depth 1 3/8 inches. What is unique about this Meerschaum Teardrop Lattice design are the size of the tear drops, or the egg-shaped carvings – they are large.  The fine circular scallop carvings are in comparison, small and tight.  The Meer is set-up with a basic push/pull tenon which appears to have a crack in the mortise insert (pictured above).  The tenon insert is worn and discolored.  The pipe itself appears to be in great shape in need of cleaning.  The chamber has some carbon build up which is not needed or desired in a Meer chamber.  One of the great things about Meerschaums is that they do not need to rest between uses as with briars.  There is a bit of the coveted patina developing around the scalloped shank and climbing toward the back of the bowl.  This is good.  This brief description from Meerschaum.com that I’ve previously cited is helpful to understand the nature of Meerschaum:

Meerschaum is a very rare mineral, a kind of hard white clay. Light and porous structure of the pipe keeps the smoke cool and soft. The pipe itself is a natural filter which absorbs the nicotine. Because of this peculiarity, meerschaum pipes slowly change their colors to different tones of gold and dark brown. This adds an esthetic enjoyment to its great smoking pleasure. The longer a pipe is smoked the more valuable it becomes due to the color change. Today many old and rare meerschaums have found a permanent place in museums and private collections.

I begin the restoration of this Meerschaum by disassembling the component parts.  This helps with the cleaning.  I also plan to replace the push/pull tenon.  With the help of a pair of needle nose pliers, the push/pull components are easily removed.Taking the stummel in hand, the chamber has moderate carbon cake build up which will be removed.I don’t use the reaming kit with Meerschaum because it produces too much indiscriminate torque on the Meer chamber wall.  A more gentle and strategic approach is the use of the Savinelli Fitsall tool.  I’m able to scrape the chamber walls with the tool in a way that removes carbon buildup but is mindful of the Meerschaum.Following the wall scraping, the chamber wall is sanded with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  This does a good job of removing the last vestiges of carbon build up.  A Meerschaum chamber does not need a cake protection like a briar chamber.An inspection of the chamber after cleaning looks good.  The Meer is still colored but it is clean and smooth to the touch.Cleaning the external surface of the Meerschaum starts with the rim which has lava caked on it, especially on the aft quadrant where most of the lighting occurred.  Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I begin on the rim to soften and break up the lava without damaging the scalloped rim carvings.  I am patient to allow the solvents to break up the cake on the rim.  I also gently utilize a brass wired brush on the rim but most of the scrubbing is done with a bristled toothbrush.  I use the toothbrush to clean the rim as well as work into all the carvings of the bowl.  I take the bowl to the kitchen sink and continue cleaning with a cotton pad and toothbrush under warm water.  Not pictured is something I tried for the first time.  I have a Soft-Scrub product here in Bulgaria called CIT which has a gentle bleach and abrasion composition.  I put a small amount on a cotton pad and continue to work on the rim’s darkened condition.  After a thorough rinsing with warm water, the stummel returns to the worktable.I’m very pleased with the cleaning results. The stummel will lighten more because it’s still damp from the cleaning. The rim cleaned up very nicely.  One blackened area remains on the extreme edge of the aft rim quadrant.  Later, I may be able to clean this with very strategic sanding. The patina gathering at the bowl/shank crook remains through the cleaning. Moving now to cleaning the internals, I use cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  I also employ a small dental spoon to scrape the internal walls of old oils and tars.  The more excavated, the faster the cotton buds can clean.  In time the buds emerge in a lightened state and the job is completed.It took no time to dispatch the internal cleaning of the acrylic stem.Focusing now on the stem repairs, I like the brown tone acrylic.  It will clean up well.  The stem bit has significant biting damage to both upper and lower bit that will require patches from the start.  The button is damaged as well.  It appears this stem was the victim of mauling, not just biting.  There is also what appears to be a burn on the side of the stem – that’s the only thing I can think it would be. It is rough to the touch so sanding should help this blemish later.I use regular CA glue to fill the compressions on one side first.  An accelerator is also used to hold the glue in place and to quicken the curing process.After the CA glue cures, I use the flat needle file to remove the excess patch material and to shape and refresh the button lips – both upper and lower.  The first two pictures are the upper.Next the lower.Next, with the filing completed, I continue to sand with 240 grade paper on the upper and lower bit.From the bit, I also sand the entire stem and focus on the burn or blemish on the side of the stem.As I look at the mark on the side of the stem, I believe now it’s simply a blemish in the acrylic.  It is not just surface but seems to go deeper.  I can only sand it out as much as possible.After sanding with 240 paper, I transition to wet sanding the entire stem with 600 grade paper then the 000 grade steel wool fine tunes the acrylic stem – it’s looking great.Transitioning now to the full regimen of micromesh pads, I wet sand with pads 1500 to 2400 and follow with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads Obsidian Oil is applied.  I like the fire in this acrylic stem. I want to strategically sand the burn spot on the extreme back of the inner rim edge.  I use a very light 240 grade paper and follow with a dry 1500 micromesh pad.I think it looks good.  The darkness is not erased but it is reduced.  To enrich and encourage the coveted patina in the Meerschaum, the age-old approach is a beeswax treatment.  Using a hot air gun, the beeswax in the Mason jar is heated until it liquefies.  I also heat the Meer bowl with the gun and then apply the liquefied beeswax to the stummel – painting thoroughly all the nooks and crannies of the sculpting.  During the painting process, I have the hot air gun propped in such a way as to continue to blow hot air on the stummel as I’m painting it.  This helps to keep the wax thin and it is more easily absorbed into the porous Meerschaum.After the stummel is thoroughly coated in beeswax, I put it aside for the stummel to cool.After cooling, I buff the stummel with a microfiber cloth to remove excess wax and to raise the shine.  The Meerschaum literally drank in the beeswax!I decided earlier to replace the old push/pull tenon system with a new set.  The shank acrylic fitment and the stem tenon both screwed in with no problem. When I tried inserting the tenon into the shank receptor, the fit was very tight – too tight to fit without me being nervous about cracking something.  To remedy this, I hand turn a drill bit just a bit larger than the hole and it bores out a slightly more comfortable fit.  This works like a charm. With the stem and stummel reunited, after mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed at 40% full power and Blue Diamond compound is applied only to the acrylic stem.  Following the compound, after wiping the stem with a felt cloth to clean it of compound dust, the same procedure is followed with another cotton cloth buffing wheel and carnauba wax is applied to the acrylic stem.  After this, the entire Meerschaum Teardrop Lattice Billiard is hand buffed to raise the shine.

The design of this Meerschaum is a classic carvers’ template in this genre of pipe.  The patina on the Meerschaum has a good start with the honey honed hues which complement beautifully the fire waves of the acrylic stem.  Jeremiah wanted to add a Meerschaum to his growing collection, and he will have the first opportunity to add this Teardrop Lattice Billiard from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!