Blog by Steve Laug
I have only 12 more of Bob’s pipes to finish before I have completed the restoration of his estate so I am continuing to work on them. The next one from Bob Kerr’s Estate is second of two BBB pipes in his collection. It is a nice looking Liverpool shaped pipe which is a part of the Canadian shape family. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs that include the biographical notes about Bob. Here is a link to one of them (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).
The BBB Liverpool has a taper vulcanite stem. It is a smooth finished bowl and shank that has a lot of dust and debris ground into the finish of the briar. It no longer has any remnants of the original BBB stamp on either side of the shank. It has no shape number or other stamping left on the right side. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. There was tobacco debris stuck on the bottom and sides of the bowl. The tapered vulcanite stem was calcified, oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. It had the BBB Diamond Brass inlay on the topside of the stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup. To me the shape was certainly part of the Canadian pipe family. It is a round, long shank pipe with a taper stem which is defined as a Liverpool in the chart below.As I mentioned above the exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like because of the lava. Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl. The next photo shows the inlaid BBB Diamond logo on the topside of the tapered stem. The stem was dirty, calcified and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. 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. Bob’s pipes were generally real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. I was surprised to see how well it turned out. 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. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top had some darkening but the inner and outer edges of the bowl were in excellent condition. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface. I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. The oxidation is very visible. I decided to start my part of the restoration work on this pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and inner edge first. I used a folded piece of 220 sandpaper to address the damage on the inner edge and bring the bowl back to round. I then topped the bowl on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board to smooth out the damage. There was a deep gouge on the front of the heel of the bowl that I dealt with next. I filled it in with clear superglue and once it had cured sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth between each sanding pad. I paused the polishing for a moment and stained the rim top with an Oak stain pen to blend the rim top colour into the bowl and shank colour.I went back to polishing the bowl with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. 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. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I painted the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the dents in the surface of the vulcanite. I was able to life most of them out. What remained were some light marks in the surface. I sanded out the remaining light tooth marks and dents with 220 grit sandpaper and starting the initial polishing with 400 grit sandpaper. 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 gorgeous BBB smooth Liverpool from Bob Kerr’s estate cleaned up really well and looks very good. The mixed stain brown finish on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper 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 the 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 BBB Liverpool feels great in the hand and I think it will feel great as it heats up with a good tobacco. 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.