Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to me from the estate of a Vancouver pipe smoker whose widow left them with a local Pipe Shop after he died. I was asked to clean them up and sell them for the shop as it has since closed. This is another English pipe – a BBB Silver Grain Stack. It is a smooth finished pipe with some interesting grain – cross grain and mixed grains. The pipe is stamped on the left side and reads BBB [over] Silver Grain and on the right side it is stamped London, England [over] the shape number 264. The bowl has a thick and heavy cake with a thick lava coat on the top of the rim. It was hard to tell how the inner and outer edge of the rim actually looked until the bowl was reamed. The smooth finish had years of dust and debris ground into it around the bowl. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There was a brass BBB Diamond on the topside of the stem that was oxidized and dirty. The tall stack had promise but it was very dirty. I took some photos of the pipe to show what it looked like when I received it. I had sent the batch of pipes from the shop to my brother Jeff in Idaho and he had cleaned them up for me. It was several years ago now that he sent them back to me and I am just now getting to finish them. He reamed them with a Pipnet Reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He had scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and rinsed it off with warm water to remove the grime in the rustication. He cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the tarry residue and oils in the shank and airway. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the stem surface. When it arrived here on my work table I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration. The rim top looked far better but there was some darkening on the surface as well as some scratches. The inner edge of the rim looked very good other than a flaw on the back right inner edge. The stem look good but there was some heavy oxidation and there were light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping is faint but still readable and reads as noted above. I took the stem off the pipe and took a photo of the parts to show the stinger apparatus and the look of the pipe as a whole.I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and then worked on the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give it a slight bevel. Once it is finished the rim top and edge looks much better. I polished the newly topped rim with micromesh sanding pads. I sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between each pad with a damp cloth. By the end you can see the shine on the rim surface. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. You can see the underlying grain begin to show through the rustication. I “painted” the surface of the stem and button with the flame of a lighter to raise the bite marks. The process worked very well and lifted all of the marks on the top side and there was a slight dip along the button on the top side and two remaining marks left on the underside. I filled in the remaining tooth marks with black super glue. Once it cured I smoothed out the surface of the repair with a needle file. I sanded out the repair with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem 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 beautiful BBB Silver Grain 264 Stack, an English made pipe from the local pipe shop estate that I am restoring and selling for them is a great looking pipe. The smooth medium brown finish on the pipe is in excellent 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 Silver Grain Stack 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 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. I have a variety of brands to work on from the shop. 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.