When I saw Bri’s post on this old BBB Glokar on Facebook I wrote and asked her to do a blog on the restoration. She agreed. I am excited to have this blog here both for the pipe itself but also for the unique techniques that Bri uses in here restorations. Thanks Bri and welcome to rebornpipes.
Blog by Bri Hill
My name is Bri Hill, a new member of the pipe restoration community. I have a newly opened store on Ebay called Vintage Overhauled. My experience restoring tobacco pipes has been short so far, only a couple months experience under my belt. In that short amount of time it has been an awesome whirlwind learning so many new and different things. I recently had the privilege of acquiring and restoring a 1912 BBB Own Make Glokar Collegiate Class Pipe. It was specifically made for the University of Michigan class of 1913. I found it on Facebook through an antique store in my home state of Michigan. This was a true gem to me for many reasons. Two of which, it is extremely rare and I am a tried and true Maize and Blue fan.Before I go into further detail I wanted to mention, full disclosure, I was not prepared for this amazing opportunity of writing about my experience with this beautiful piece. The opportunity to write this blog article was presented after the pipe was finished being restored. Therefore, I did not take as many pictures during the restoration process as I would have liked for this restoration project.
The process I follow has taken some time to iron out and is continually evolving, but for this piece it was very simple.
The first step was a two part process. One part was to put the stem in an Oxyclean soak. This helps speed the process of removing oxidation. The second step I follow is rubbing down the stummel with vinegar diluted in water. I rubbed it down with 0000 steel wool. The fine grade of the steel wool prevents most scratching during the cleaning process. After only about five minutes with the steel wool the entire outside of the stummel is clean like new, even the char on the rim is completely gone. The metal lettering and band cleaned up immediately. From there, I then ran a fine grade pipe cleaner through the shank a few times continually dipping the pipe cleaner in the vinegar water solution during this.
The next step involves adding in reaming techniques. I chose to pursue a less aggressive approach when first reaming this pipe in order to be as careful as possible with it. I use a dropper to suck up the vinegar and water solution. I pour the solution from the dropper into the chamber while using my finger to plug the hole at the shank end. I let it sit for 30 seconds then release my finger off the shank to pour out the solution. This gets the cake in the chamber moistened up to prepare for reaming. I repeat this step throughout the reaming process. This makes it much easier than reaming the chamber when dry. For reaming the chamber this is a two part method. First, I take a piece of silverware with the smallest handle I can find. One with a round end at the handle. I gently scrape away at the cake trying to remove just a small initial layer at a time. I then repeat the solution with the dropper process for 30 seconds. Ream again. Repeat. I do this until the chamber is reamed to my satisfaction. I then move to the second and final part of reaming. Using a traditional reaming tool, I give it a couple spins to even out the chamber.
After reaming is complete, some sanding is done in order to even out the leftover cake in the chamber. I decided for this pipe I wanted to use a less aggressive method of sanding than my prior technique of just wrapping sandpaper around a toothbrush end. Instead I used some 320 grit sandpaper followed by 600 then 800 and 1200. I do this to ensure the chamber ends up looking even and smooth. (However on a side note, when I was completely done restoring the stummel I noticed there were uneven layers of cake toward the top of the chamber near the rim. After much debate with myself over it. I decided to forgo going back and sanding again.) I wrap the strip of paper around the end of my finger to create a curved surface in order to address the bottom of the chamber. Once sanding is complete I plug the shank hole and put coffee grounds and alcohol in the chamber. I let this sit overnight. Once I drain and clean out the coffee grounds . I run a bit of hot water through the chamber using the dropper to clean out any leftover grounds. Afterwards, I took a tool that came with my Fiebings dyes. I dip the tool in EA Carey sweetener and disinfectant.
I then insert the tool into the chamber and lightly twist and scrub around the chamber. I let the excess drip out through the shank, while being careful not to get the solution on the outside of the stummel. The solution sweetens and disinfects the chamber and shank. The solution leaves the chamber smelling minty and fresh.
After, it is time to turn my attention to the rim of the bowl. There are two very small nicks in the rim.
I wasn’t sure at first if I needed to fill the nicks with CA glue and briar dust or if I could lightly sand and get results that way instead. I chose the sanding route because I wanted to preserve the originality of the pipe as much as possible. When choosing this approach I always start with the highest grade sanding paper possible and work my way down until I find the right grade for the situation. If you choose a grade too low it can alter the rim in multiple ways; such as taking off the stain and creating uneven spots on the rim. I started with the 2500 grade and worked my way down to 1200. I sanded each nick lightly, only for a few passovers. I would then switch to the Black Emery compound with a rotary tool cloth polishing bit. This might be unconventional to some, because many rave over Brown Tripoli and White Diamond. There have been some situations where I have used White Diamond and it produces positive results. In regards to Brown Tripoli. No matter what I have tried, I cannot produce the results that many speak about. For me, it just produces a dull and foggy look. In my experience the Black Emery produces a shinier luster than the Brown Tripoli. I repeat the process 3 times of sanding very lightly with 1200 and then using the Black Emery after. I focused my attention to the rim structure during this in order to make sure I was not creating an uneven spot by sanding too much. This is the end result, although the initial picture doesn’t really show the full extent of the nicks.Once the nicks were handled I moved on to buffing the stummel. For the first step of this process I used the Black Emery with a white cloth rotary buffing bit.
I then one over the stummel with 5000 sandpaper. After that, I apply the Green compound using a string buffer and then follow that with 10000 sandpaper. I do another round of Green and follow up for a final time with 15000 sandpaper. I have found that alternating between both sanding methods not only produces a great shine, but the high grit sandpaper polishes out the micro scratches the buffing compound process leaves behind. I avoid the rim edges with the sandpaper when doing this because it can produce uneven coloring on the rim and edge areas. I also avoid the metal lettering and band when using the sandpaper. I noticed it creates micro scratches. I stick to just the compound for the metal parts.
Once the stummel process is complete I move on to the stem that has been soaking in Oxyclean. I use 0000 steel wool and a magic eraser. After about 7 minutes of alternating between both, the stem is all clean. I had to pay a little extra attention to the lip of the stem. Oxidation is always a bit more difficult to remove in that area. Once clean I noticed there is a decent size indent from a bite mark on the stem. I use a lighter to apply short stints of heat to the bite area, this pulls the indent out a bit each time. Be careful not to apply the heat too close. It will burn and damage the stem. My trick is putting a finger right next to the area I’m working on. This way I can feel if the lighter is too close. In my experience you don’t need a high temperature of heat applied. I do about 2 or 3 second stints with applying the heat. After the 3rd time the indent pulled outward enough that I felt satisfied in moving on to buffing and polishing.
For polishing and buffing the stem I use the same Black Emery and General Green approach along with the same buffing bits. However, I only used one round of 15000 sandpaper right before waxing. I skipped the 5000 and 10000 step I used on the stummel. The approach that I found works best is applying a round of Black Emery first. Followed by the green and then the 15000 sandpaper. From there I apply two rounds of wax just like I did with the stummel.
Here is the final result. I’m quite satisfied with it. I am very excited for this piece to be a part of the new Vintage Overhauled collection. Visit my store on Ebay to check it out and see others that have been restored.