Restoring an older KBB Yello-Bole Century Model Straight Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my work table a classic looking KBB Yello-Bole Bulldog shaped pipe. It is stamped with a KBB in a cloverleaf next to the bowl on the left side of the shank. That is followed by YELLO-BOLE [over] Century Model ® [over] Imported Briar. There is no shape number on the pipe on either side. The yellow coloured Bakelite saddle stem. The briar has a mix of birdseye and cross grain around the bowl and shank. This pipe was bought off eBay on February 3, 2017 from Grand Junction, Colorado, USA. The varnish on the finish was peeling and damaged. The briar was also dirty but the grain shone through well. The rim top had a thick coat of lava and edges are caked as well. There was a heavy cake in the bowl and some tobacco debris. The shank and stem airway was very dirty. The stem was lightly oxidized, calcified and had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to show the cake in the bowl, the darkening on the inner edge and the light lava on the rim top. The stem photos show the oxidation, calcification and tooth chatter and marks very well. Jeff took photos of the sides of the bowl to highlight the grain around the bowl sides and base. He captured the stamping on the shank side and stem side in the next photos. The circle on the stem is red rather than black or yellow. They are clean and readable as noted above.I turned to the listing on Pipephil on the KBB Yello-Bole pipes and did not find anything like the one I am working on ( The one I have is stamped with KBB in a cloverleaf Yello-Bole Century Model, circle R stamp over Imported Briar and there is nothing with that stamping on the sites. The stem logo is a red circle rather than a yellow one but the setting and placement is the same. I did a screen capture of the section and the stamping on the shank side. I have included it below.I turned next to Pipedia to gather a more detailed history of the brand and see if I could find any information on this particular pipe ( I quote a portion of that article on tips for dating Yello-Bole pipes below.

Tips for Dating Yello-Bole Pipes

  • KBB stamped in the clover leaf indicates it was made in 1955 or earlier as they stopped this stamping after being acquired by S.M. Frank.
  • Pipes from 1933-1936 they were stamped “Honey Cured Briar”
  • Post 1936 pipes were stamped “Cured with Real Honey”
  • Pipe stems stamped with the propeller logo were made in the 1930’s or 1940’s – no propellers were used after the 1940’s.
  • Yello Bole used a 4 digit code stamped on the pipe in the 1930’s.
  • Pipes with the Yello-Bole circle stamped on the shank it were made in the 1930’s, this stopped after 1939.
  • Pipes stamped BRUYERE rather than BRIAR it was made in the 1930’s.

The only portions of the Tips that helps with this pipe is the first one – KBB stamped in a clover leaf indicates it was made in 1955 or earlier as they stopped this stamping after being acquired by S.M. Frank. The rest of the Tips did not apply as they do not match the stamping on this pipe. I know that the pipe was made prior to 1955 and no more at this moment.

Jeff cleaned up the pipes with his usual thoroughness – reaming the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaning up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime on the finish. When he sent it the pipe was ready to restore. I could not believe how good the rim top looked in comparison to what it was when he started. I took photos of the pipe when I unpacked it. The briar was clean and the grain quite stunning. The finish looked dull and lifeless. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top after Jeff had cleaned it up. The look of the rim top and edges is very good. He had been able to remove the cake and the lava very well. The bowl was spotless. The inner bevel on the edge had some darkening spots in the yellow bole coating. The stem is also shown and was very clean. He had scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Mark’s Before & After Deoxidizer. There was light tooth chatter and marks still remaining.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank side. The photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is clear and readable.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to show the look of the pipe. It is a real beauty.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the darkened bevel on the inner edge of the bowl. When I finished it looked much better.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding (carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank sides) with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth between each pad. The grain to take on a shine. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and let it do its magic. The product cleans, enlivens and preserves the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes and then buffed it off with a cotton cloth. The bowl really is looking good at this point. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deeper tooth marks with clear CA glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. I flattened the repairs with a small file. I smoothed out the repairs with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing it 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 impregnated with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine then gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This is another beautiful pipe – this one is an older KBB Yello-Bole Century Model Straight Bulldog. This older Bulldog is a very light weight and from my experience with other Yello-Bole pipes, smokes very well. The grain on the pipe is quite nice and goes well with the yellow acrylic (Bakelite) stem. I put the stem on the shank and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the wheel (being careful of the stamping so as not to damage that). I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions of this pipe are – Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.31 ounces/37 grams. It is a great looking pipe and one that will be going on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipe Makers section. If you want to add it to your collection let me know via email to or by message. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

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