Blog by Steve Laug
I am continuing to work on the pipes in Bob Kerr’s estate for a while. I am getting closer to finishing restoring this large estate with only about 28 more pipes to do. This is one of his two Irwin’s pipes that I am working on. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection there were 19 Peterson’s pipes along with a bevy of Dunhills, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting. This is a nicely grained billiard and was another fun one to work on. It is a classic shaped pipe with a medium sized billiard shape. It will go on the rebornpipes store.
This Irwin’s London England 9132 Billiard has a smooth finish with lots variation in the grain around the briar is a beauty! The pipe is stamped on the left of the shank and reads Irwin’s over London England. On the right side it has the shape number 9132. The grain grime and dirt ground into the mixture of grain around the bowl. It had rich medium brown stain that does not look too bad. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a thick lava overflow sitting on the total rim top. The inner edge of the rim is dirty and may have some damage under the grime. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end. It bears a circle IR stamp on the topside of the taper stem. It had the characteristic tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim top and edges from damage. It was hard to know for sure from the photos. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain under the grime and grit ground into the finish. He took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos and read as noted above. You can also see the Circle IR stamp on the topside of the taper stem.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button.The shape 9132 Shape number on the right side of the shank pointed me to GBD as the maker of this pipe. I turned to the Pipephil website (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-i.html). The site had very little information but it linked the brand to GBD as I had remembered. Here is a screen capture of the section.I turned to Pipedia to see if I could find more information on Irwin’s and there was nothing listed in the article on GBD pipes. I did find a note on the Brands and Makers page connection the brand to GBD (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_Brands_/_Makers). On that page under Irwin’s I found the following information.
GBD sub-brand / second. Also known “Irwin`s Handmade in Denmark”
Other than that there was no other information.
With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. 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 very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. The stem still had a lot of deep oxidation. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top good but there was some darkening on the beveled inner edge of the rim. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above. I took the stem off the shank and took some photos to give a clear picture of the pipe from the left side profile. It is a really pretty pipe.Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the 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. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again 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!
Now on to my part of the restoration of this Irwin’s London England 9132 GBD made Billiard. I decided to start by dealing with the damage to the beveled inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and clean up the bevel to remove the darkening. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.
I rubbed the bowl 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 with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I touched up the IR Circle stamp on the topside of the stem with some Paper Mate Liquid Paper. I worked it into the Circle IR stamp with a toothpick. When it cured I scraped off the excess on the topside of the stem.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The stem was in great condition with light tooth marks and oxidation. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Irwin’s London England 9132 Billiard made by GBD from Bob Kerr’s estate turned out to be a great looking pipe. The mix of brown stains highlights the grain around the bowl sides, top and bottom. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well with the polished vulcanite saddle stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Irwin’s 9132 Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more 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.