Daily Archives: October 18, 2021

Breathing New Life into a Millard Imported Briar System Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was chosen because it reminded me of a pipe that I enjoy smoking and working on – a Keyser Hygienic. Jeff picked it up in November of 2017 from an online auction. It has been sitting here in a box for a long time waiting for me to get around to picking it up and working on it. This weekend was the time I chose to do so. It has some nice grain around the bowl and the inwardly beveled rim top. The shank end is polished aluminum and has a tube in the center of what acts as a condenser compartment. The stem is inserted in the shank end and also has a tube in the center. The swirling smoke in the chamber leaves the moisture on the sides of the aluminum shank extension. There was a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflow on the rim top. The stem was oxidized and calcified on the button end. There were tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the bowl and rim top and both the top and underside of the stem. You can see the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. Both the inner and outer edges of the bowl look very good. The stem photos show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides as well as the calcification on both sides. He took a photo of the side of the bowl and the heel to show the grain on the bowl. It is a beautiful piece of wood.He took a photo of the tubes in the shank and the stem and the condensation chamber in the aluminum shank extension. The tubes and the chamber is thickly covered with tars and oils.He also took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.As I studied it, I also remembered that I have worked on several Millard pipes over the past years. I turned to one of the write ups on rebornpipes on a pair of Millard pipes. Here is the link https://rebornpipes.com/2015/12/11/a-pair-of-millard-perfect-pipes-a-sandblast-apple-and-dublin/. I am including a picture of a flyer that I showed in the blog and I am quoting the section that gives the background on the brand. I quote:

When I came across the Millard – the Perfect Pipe coupon in the two boxes of Kentucky Club that I found I was fascinated with the look of the pipe. It reminded me of the Keyser Hygienic pipes that I had restored over the years. The stem that fit into the metal mortise shank insert and the tubes on the inside of the stem and the shank were similar. While the Keyser tubing in the shank looked identical the one in the stem was different. Keyser was directed downward while the Millard was two straight tubes that met in the mortise. They did not touch but the metal chamber became a condensing chamber, or as they call it an Action Trap, for the smoke and collected the moisture before it continued through the tube in the stem. I looked up the brand online and found the following advertisement postcard that shows the way the system works. I found that the stems were interchangeable between the shapes that the pipe came in. The straight stems could be easily transferred from pipe to pipe. In fact the pipe originally came with an extra or replacement stem. The pipe came in a sandblast and a smooth finish in six shapes – apple, Dublin, billiard, pear, pot and bent. It came in two sizes: medium or large. In the advertisement below you can see that the pipe cost $3. I also found that Mastercraft supplied the pipes through the coupon sales. Knowing a bit of history about the company I know that they did not make pipe so they were sourced from the original manufacturer.

Before I worked on the pipe I took the box of Kentucky Club that I had on the shelf and opened it and took out the coupon. It actually was a coupon for The Millard pipe. It read as follows:

Looking for the Ideal Pipe? The Millard is often regarded as the answer. Its complete action trap keeps the pipe dry in any position and prevents mouth flow back. Se it in our new Premium Catalog. It will delight and intrigue you. We feel sure.

I took photos of the box and coupon along with the pipe to give a sense of the size of the pipe and the look of the coupon.  Reminded of the background of the brand it was time now to work on the pipe. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up of the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer to take the cake back to bare briar. He cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it with hot water. He scrubbed out the shank, aluminum trap mortise and the tubes in the stem and the shank with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. He sent it to me in a box of other pipes. When I brought it to the table this is what I saw. I took close up photos of the rim top and stem to show the overall condition of the bowl and stem after Jeff’s work on it. The rim top looked very good and the bowl was clean. The stem was also clean (lightly oxidized) and had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe.I took photos of the tube in the stem and in the shank chamber. It is a unique design.The metal shank extension was not completely aligned with the shank. It was straight but the diameter of the shank was larger in spots than the diameter of the metal shank extension. I took some photos to try and capture that misfit.I used a small file and 220 grit sandpaper to properly fit the shank and extension. It was not much work to remove the excess material. I polished the sanded shank and extension with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down between each pad with wet cloth. The shank and extension began to take on a real shine.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 to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain really came alive. It looks better than when I began. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I smoothed out the tooth marks and scratches in the vulcanite with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I put the pipe back together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored Millard Imported Briar System Bent Billiard is a real beauty and I think the polished aluminum shank extension (condensation chamber) and the black vulcanite stem work well together. The grain on the bowl came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The Millard Bent Billard feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar, the polished aluminum and the vulcanite stem is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.55 ounces/44 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the American (US) Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.

Reflections on the breadth of reach of rebornpipes

Blog by Steve Laug

On my recent trip to Milan, Italy I was struck by the reach and the breadth of connections of rebornpipes. I visited the Al Pascia Shop in the city and was known. I had given my rebornpipes business card to the proprietor when I arrived and once he looked at it he said he knew me. It turned out he was a long-time reader/follower of rebornpipes. I was known in a city I had never visited in a shop that I had never been to before. It was because of rebornpipes.

During the trip I was speaking with Paresh in India and told him of the experience and he shared that he had a similar one. He spoke of a pipe that he purchased from a seller in Turkey who upon hearing his name immediately felt connected because he had read Paresh’s work on rebornpipes. Once again it was because of rebornpipes.

I have had that experience repeated numerous times in a variety of pipe shops around the world wherever I have visited them. As with these times the link is always rebornpipes. The connection is very real and the reach is quite wide. I never cease to be amazed.

This gave me pause to reflect on what is happening now that rebornpipes is close to 10 years old (May 1, 2022). There are many writers/contributors from around the world who have shared their restoration and refurbishing work on the blog. None of us are paid for our contributions. We are merely doing it for the desire to pass on what we are learning and to encourage others to step out and give refurbishing a try. For every one of those readers who write and tell us of our influence there are many who never have written but when we meet them in person they speak out like they know us very well.

It is these silent ones that I continue to run into around the world who somehow feel connected to us because of a common love of all things pipe related. When I began rebornpipes many years ago I had hoped to provide a place for this to happen. I wanted it to became a community of restorers and refurbishers who shared their work, techniques and the learning curve with each other and any one interested enough to follow us and read.

In many ways that continues to happen quite remarkably. Many have joined the community and shared their experiences and work with the larger community. A side result that has happened, that I never imagined, is that an ever growing number of folks have created their own refurbishing blogs and Pipe Related blogs and have broadened and enriched the hobby. Examples of these blogs include Charles Lemon’s DadsPipes, Mark Irwin’s Peterson Pipe Notes, Dal Stanton’s The Pipe Steward, Ryan Thibodeau’s Lunting Bear Pipe Restoration and a host of others.

The beauty of this of course is the expansion of the hobby through the reach of each of these blogs as well as through the ongoing contributors to rebornpipes. People such as early contributors – Al Jones, Fred Bass, Gan Barber, Chuck Richards, Kirk Fitzgerald, Piet Binsbergen, James Gilliam, Al Shinogle, Greg Wolford, Robert Boughton, Brian Devlin, Bas Stevens, Mark Domingues, Eric Boehm, Les Sechler, Martin Farrent, Mike Leverette, Alan Chestnut, AJ Verstraten, Josiah Ruotsinoga, Cody Huey, Chiz Szymanski, Jace Rochacki, Joey Bruce, John Williams,  Joyal Taylor, Bill Tonge, Pat Russell, Andrew Selking, Anthony Cook, Aaron Henson, Troy Wilburn, Dave Gossett, Dutch Holland, Bill Hein and Joe Gibson had all contributed articles throughout the early days of the blog.

That does not take into account the current contributors – Al Jones (continues to faithfully post), Dal Stanton, Paresh Deshpande, Kenneth Lieblich, Mike Belarde, Bri Hill, Ryan Thibodeau, Jeff Laug, Alex Heidenreich, Viktor Naddeo. Like any time you make a list of contributores I am sure there are others that I have missed both past and present.

The lists above give you an idea of the breadth of the contributors and the amazing thing is that they are from many countries. They include men and women and people from a wide range of ages and walks of life. This alone is remarkable but the level of craftsmanship and ingenuity demonstrated by these folks is even more so. Rebornpipes has truly gathered a company of fine folks who contribute much to the hobby we love and serve.

This is all behind the scenes and many readers do not see the many names of those who have written or are writing for rebornpipes. It is gratifying to me to think about when you consider the humble beginning we had in 2012. I had put many articles on the blog and few people actually bothered to stop by and read it. Then one day Neill Archer Roan published a post on his own widely read blog encouraging people to check out rebornpipes. I am forever grateful to him for his vote of confidence.

To get a feel for the growth lets look as some numbers. In 2012 there were 39,646 views and 2,316 visitors. This year (up to October 8) there have been 340,700 views and over 166,800 visitors. The blog has had visitors from every continent and from over 200 different countries around the world. I am astonished at the growth. I want to take this time to thank all of you for your contributions and patronage over the years.

I sit quietly now as I finish my reflections on this post. I have to confess that never in my wildest dreams did I think that this would happen. Never did I imagine walking into a shop in another country to look at a pipe and tobacco and have the folks in the shop say that they know me. Those are things that are beyond my comprehension. I am just thankful to have been able to put together a blog that obviously meets a need and has created its own niche not only here in Canada but around the world. Thank you all for you help in making this a reality.