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 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.

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