Blog by Kenneth Lieblich
Next on the chopping block is an amazing, old Yello-Bole Carburetor. It has lovely proportions and very nice lines. It was clearly a well-made pipe, but it was a mess. It came to me in a lot off of Craigslist, here in the Vancouver area. There were several interesting pipes in this lot, but I grabbed this one because I wanted to learn more about carburetor systems in pipes. This seemed like a good starting point. The pipe turned out beautifully, but it was not clear that that was going to be the case when I started! This is a bent-egg-shaped pipe – and a really pretty one too. It felt very nice. There is plenty of information to be had on Yello-Bole pipes, but this one is slightly tricky to date. The markings on the left of the shank read Yello-Bole [over] Carburetor [over] Genuine Briar. On the right side of the shank is the model number 9567. Also, on the stem, there is a whitish circle, unlike the yellow circles of old. RebornPipes has a few write-ups on Yello-Bole Carburetors, but none quite like this one. I believe this pipe to be a bit newer than the previous restorations – certainly dating after 1955 and before 1972. I say “certainly” because when S.M. Frank & Co. Inc. bought out Yello-Bole et al from KB&B in 1955, they ceased using the KB&B clover-leaf logo. This pipe does not have the clover. The history of Yello-Bole’s carburetor system is quite interesting. I am borrowing from an old post of Steve’s to relay the following information:
I decided to look up the patents on the US Patent site and see what I could find about about them and the date they were filed (https://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm). I searched first for the US. Pat. 2,082,106 that was stamped on the top and left side of the shank. I assumed it referred to the Patent for the Carburetor but I was not certain. I found a drawing and description of the carburetor system of a patent filed by R. Hirsch on April 21, 1936 and granted on June 1, 1937. I have included those pages below. For those interested in the problematic dating of Yello-Bole pipes, please refer to this link which has some useful information: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/kaywoodie/dating-yello-bole-pipes-t86.html.
Anyway, on to the pipe, and – as I mentioned – it was very attractive, but a bit of a mess. The stem was dark and dreary. It had significant oxidation and plenty of tooth chatter and scratches. Meanwhile, the stummel also had some problems. There was plenty of lava on the rim, some small burns, cake in the bowl, and a few scratches here-and-there. The staining of the wood needed to be revivified too. The finish on the wood had come off in spots and that was going to need attention. Also, the carburetor itself was impregnated with gunk. This pipe was going to require quite a bit of elbow grease, but I was looking forward to working on this one. It is a pipe that still has many decades of use in it.
The stem was first on my list. I wiped down the outside of the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. I also took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the bite marks and dents. This was somewhat successful in raising the damage. Then, I cleaned out the insides with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing sludge off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub on cotton pads (and a toothbrush) to remove the leftover oxidation. Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I built up some tiny dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let it fully cure. I then sanded it down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing.I also decided to paint the “O” on the stem with some white nail polish. This sort of “paint” works very well in filling in the markings and is quite resistant to wear-and-tear.This stummel was quite a mess. The lava on the rim was so substantial that I first gently scraped it with a knife to remove as much as possible. I then decided to ream out the bowl. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to eliminate as much as I could. I took it down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was a lot of nastiness inside this stummel and – boy-oh-boy – it took a lot of cotton to get this thing clean! I also used some cotton balls, isopropyl alcohol, and a straight pin to clean the carburetor. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some castile soap and tube brushes. But that was just the inside! I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap, a toothbrush, and some cotton pads. Wow – I got a lot of filth off the stummel and I began to see some signs of real beauty in the wood. A sign of good things to come! But I still needed to address the patchy finish on the wood. It may have looked good once upon a time, but no longer. So, I opted to soak the stummel in isopropyl alcohol for a few hours. This will usually remove the sort of deteriorating finish I was faced with. When I took the stummel out of the alcohol bath, I scrubbed the wood with a brush (to remove any remnants) and left it to dry. In order to remove the lingering bits of finish (and eliminate any nicks on the rim), I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the damage, without altering the look of the pipe. I opted to carry on sanding the whole stummel with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to even everything out. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to finish it off. After that, a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain. There is some beautiful wood after all – and look at that bird’s-eye! On to another problem: the colour. During the course of its previous life and my vigorous cleaning, this pipe had lost some vibrancy of colour. So, in order to accentuate the external beauty of this pipe, I opted for aniline dye. I applied some of Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye. As usual, I applied flame from a BIC lighter in order to set the colour. What a difference that made! It looked so much better with a fresh coat of stain.I applied some Before & After Restoration Balm and then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood very attractive. This is a very elegant pipe and will provide many years of smoking pleasure.
This Yello-Bole Carburetor is back to its old glory and ready to be enjoyed again by the next owner. I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the ‘American’ pipe makers section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at email@example.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 5¾ in. (145 mm); height 2¾ in. (50 mm); bowl diameter 1⅛ in. (29 mm); chamber diameter ¾ in. (19 mm). The weight of the pipe is 1⅜ oz. (40 g). I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.