Blog by Steve Laug
There is something about Custombilt style older American Made pipes that always gets my attention. This one is a uniquely rusticated Bullmoose shaped pipe with a short stubby vulcanite saddle stem. The pipe had some unique beauty shining through the dust and debris in the valleys of the rustication. The rustication is on the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank. The rim top is smooth as is the smooth panel on the left side of the shank and the band around the shank end. The finish was very dirty from sitting around. There was a thick cake in the bowl with lava flowing out of the bowl and over the rim top. The rim top looked like it had been used as a hammer repeatedly. There were nicks, gouges and deep chunks missing on the smooth rim top. It was in very rough condition. The inner edge of the rim appeared to be in surprisingly good condition. The stamping on the left side of the shank read Aged Imported Briar. There are no other stampings on the pipe and no shape numbers. The saddle stem was oxidized and there were tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took the following photos before he started his cleanup work on the pipe. He took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the damage to the rim top. It really is a mess. You can see the lava overflow and debris in the gouges and scratches on the rim top. You can see the cake in the bowl. This was a dirty pipe but the rusticated around the bowl finish appeared to be in good condition. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the unique rustication around the bowl. You can see the dust and debris in the finish. It is a good looking rustication and unlike any others that I have seen. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.The next photos show the overview of the stem top and the tooth chatter and oxidation on the top and underside of the stem. The stamping on the shank does not help me identify the maker of the pipe. There are things about the pipe that remind me of either Kaywoodie rustics or Custombilt pipes. But there was nothing other than conjecture on my part.
Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had done his usual thorough job in removing all of the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove the lava and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the work. To show how clean the rim top and stem really were I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is very clean with no residual lava in the sandblast finish. The inner edges of the bowl look good. The vulcanite stem cleaned up nicely. The surface had some light oxidation and tooth marks but the button edge looked really good.I took a photo of the stamping on the under side of the shank. You can see the clear stamping.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. The saddle vulcanite stem look very good. I decided to address the damage to the rim top first. I filled in the deep gouges and nicks in the rim top with superglue. Once the repairs had cured I sanded the rim top with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I worked on especially hard areas on the rim top and edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper.I polished the rim top with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the dust and debris. I stained the rim top with a Tan aniline stain to match the colour of the smooth portions around the bowl and shank.I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers and with a horse hair shoe brush to get it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish on the bowl and shank. I let it sit for 10 minutes to let it do its magic. I 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. The bowl was finished so I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. To address the oxidation and the tooth marks on the stem surface I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend in the tooth marks and to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I started polishing the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red gritty paste that feels a lot like Tripoli. I find that it works well to polish out some of the more surface scratches in the vulcanite left behind by the 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I rub it into the stem surface with my fingertips and buff it off with a cotton pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I gave it a final rub down with Obsidian Oil to preserve and protect the vulcanite stem. I have used No Oxy Oil in the past at this point as it does the same thing as Obsidian Oil but have gone back to using Obsidian Oil. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I used a soft touch on the rusticated bowl so as not to fill in the crevices with the product. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I carefully buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished buffing with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe looks very good. The rustication is unique with almost a nautilus swirl on both sides. The pipe feels great in the hand. It is comfortable and light weight. The finished Aged Imported Briar Bullmoose is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. This great looking rusticated Bullmoose turned out very well. It should be a great pipe. It will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.