Restoring a No Name Tortoise Shell Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is one that neither Jeff nor I remember picking up. It could have come to us through a trade for work on a pipe or it could have come from one of an earlier pipe hunts that either Jeff or I did. Either way, the long and short of it is that this is another pipe that we have no idea how it came into our hands. It is an attractive no name billiard with a tortoise shell stem with a fancy trio of acrylic and wood decoration on the shank end of the stem. It had a smooth finish on the bowl and a inwardly beveled rim top. Under grime on the finish it appears that pipe may have had a light brown or tan stain to highlight the grain around the bowl. There were a few small sand pit fills around the bowl on the left back and the top and right side of the shank. The pipe had no stamping on the shank or underside. There was also no identifying stamp on the stem. It was in decent condition when I brought it to the table. The finish was dirty with grime ground into the briar sides and rim. There was a light cake in the bowl and light lava on the rim top and some damage on rear inner edge of the bowl. The stem was dirty but otherwise in good condition. There were light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. I took photos of the pipe before my cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe.  I took a photo of the rim top to show the interior the bowl and the rim top and inner edge. It is moderately caked with some damage to the rim top and edges and some lava coat on the right and back top of the rim. The Tortoise Shell stem is in decent condition with light tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. The two black acrylic bands were slightly smaller in diameter than the stem and the wooden insert so it gave those areas a slight bulge. I would need to smooth out the transition on both sides of the black acrylic on the stem.I took photos of the sides of the shank to show the lack of stamping. There was no stamping on the shank so it was a bit of a mystery pipe. I took the stem off the bowl and took a picture of the parts of the pipe to give a sense of the parts of the pipe.I decided to begin my work on the pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and edges. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean off the rim top and the inner edge of bowl. It took some time but I was able to bring it back to a pretty clean condition.  There is a large fill on the rim top on the back right side.The pipe had been reamed recently so all I had to do with it was clean out the shank and airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I was surprised that I also was removing some brown stain from the end of the shank.    The diameter of the shank and the diameter of the black Lucite bands on the stem did not match. I decided to sand down the shank and stem to try and smooth out the transition between them. I sanded the shank as well as the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth. This served a dual purpose of both removing the sanding debris and the dust that had accumulated in the rustication patterns around the bowl and shank.  Once I was finished the flow between the stem and shank was much smoother.  I touched up the light areas on the sanded shank and the rim top with a Maple stain pen that matched the finish on the rest of the bowl very well.   I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. It looks quite nice at this point.     With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I had sanded the stem earlier to deal with the flow of the bands on the stem end. I also sanded it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I used the pads to remove the tooth marks on the stem on both sides near the button. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I am excited to finish this No Name Tortoise Shell Stem Billiard. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping through on the bowls sides and rim top. Added to that the polished Tortoise Shell acrylic stem was beautiful. This smooth finished Billiard turned out to be a nice looking pipe that feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 49grams/1.73oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store in the Metal and Pipes from Various Makers section soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.