Blog by Steve Laug
Over the past few years I have worked on Byford pipes and all of them had a condensation chamber or what Byford called a Capillary Collector. The stem was a military style push stem with a tube in the stem and one in the aluminum collector much like the Keyser Hygienic pipes from England via South Africa. I have included a link to a Byford Prince that I restored many years ago now (as well as some pictures I came upon after the fact) below. You can see what I was expecting by looking at the document below and the link to the blog on the Prince (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/06/13/restoring-and-reclaiming-a-byford-prince/).I have also included a link to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Byford) about the Byford pipe and description of how the pipe worked. Byford was an Orlik sub-brand / second. Now made by Cadogan.
This is what I was expecting when I came to work on this pipe. It came to us from an online auction on 03/21/19 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, USA. It looked exactly like the pipes in the flyers above and in the photos it looked like the one I had worked on before. Jeff and I were expecting the same kind of condensing chamber as on the previous pipe. However when the pipe arrived it did not have that at all. Rather than being a shank extension the aluminum was on the stem. Instead of a tube and condensing chamber the tenon was threaded aluminum and was a regular tenon. The shank was threaded to receive the tenon and there was no plumbing in the shank or stem. It was just made to look like the earlier version but was a far cry from that. To my thinking this definitely put it in the Cadogan era rather than the time of Orlik. Instead of a system pipe we picked up a nice looking billiard with nice grain around the bowl. The finish was dirty and there was grime ground into it. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a light lava coat on the back side of the rim top. The inner edge was slightly out of round and showed both darkening and nicks. The aluminum on the stem was oxidized and scratched and the stem was oxidized as well. There was light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. He took close up photos of the rim top to show the cake and the lava on the rim top. You can also see the damage to the inner edge of the rim. He also took photos of the stem to show the condition of tooth marks and chatter. He took photos of the grain on the sides and heel of the bowl. It is really a pretty looking piece of briar. The next photo, even though it is out of focus, shows the threaded tenon and aluminum extension on the stem rather than the shank. Quite a surprise when you consider the information I included above. I would say that this is not a Byford system pipe as noted in the early paragraphs but a later model that used the look but not the system.The stamping on both sides of the shank is clear and readable. On the left side it is stamped Byford [over]the shape of a shield. That was not on the information sheets I included above. On the right side it is stamped Made in England followed by the shape number, 23.I turned now to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a great job cleaning this one. It looked amazingly good. The grain really stood out and was very clean. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it with warm running water. He dried it off with a cotton towel. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the stem. He rinsed it and dried it off. He gave it a light coat of olive oil to preserve it. I took photos of the pipe when I finally got around to working on it. The rim top had cleaned up very well with the lava and much of the darkening removed. You can see the damage on the inner edge all around the bowl but particularly on the front and rear of the bowl. The stem surface looked very good with light tooth marks or chatter. There was some light oxidation that remained on the top side of the stem. The aluminum extension on the stem looked better but was scratched and dull. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is vulcanite with an extension of aluminum and an aluminum tenon. I took extra photos of the stem to show the tenon and the slot on the opposite end to give a send of the system of this pipe. I started my work on the pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and inner edge. I sanded the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give it a slight bevel and minimize the damage while bring it back to round. I sanded the rim top at the same time to remove some of the darkening.I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it another coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside. 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. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I “painted” the tooth marks on the stem with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks as much as possible. I filled in what remained with clear CA glue. I used a small file to flatten the repairs and blended them into the surface of the stem and removed some of the deeper scratches in the aluminum with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I sanded the metal ferule to remove some of the deep scratches. I actually is better than the photos show as these surface scratches should be easily removed. It was the deeper ones I was concerned with. I was able to remove some of them.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final rubdown with Obsidian Oil to further protect it and let it dry. This Byford Made in England 23 Billiard with a taper vulcanite stem and aluminum extension and tenon cleaned up well. It is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. 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 Byford English Made Billiard 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 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.41 ounces /41 grams. I will be adding this pipe to the rebornpipes store shortly in the English Pipe Makers section. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!