Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us on 04/08/2017 from an antique shop in Stevensville, Montana, USA. The pipe is a classic Custom-Bilt look to it – a rusticated Bullmoose shaped pipe with some deep carving around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Craftsman [over] Custom-Made. On the right side it is stamped Imported Briar. There was a lot of grime ground into the smooth and rusticated portions of the finish on the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with a heavy overflow of lava on smooth rim top and inner edge of the rim. The inside edges looked to be in good condition. The outer edge had some marks as well on the right front of the bowl. The stem was dirty and oxidized. There was a cotton fuzz on the saddle portion that was stuck to the vulcanite. It had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There was a remnant of a star shaped logo on the left side of the saddle stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the thick lava on the smooth rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the light oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks. Jeff took a photo of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a sense of what the briar looked like. The rustication pattern around the bowl is similar to that done by Custom-Bilt. The stamping on the left and right side of the shank is clear and readable and read as noted above. I turned to Pipephil and Pipedia for information and there was nothing listed for this brand on either site. I found a few of them listed on Smoking Pipes site but there was not any information on the maker of the pipe. So this one is a bit of a mystery.
Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and a tooth brush and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work. The rim top cleaned up really well. The inner edge had some darkening and wear that would need to be addressed. The outer edge of the bowl looks good. The stem surface looked good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stamping on sides of the shank 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. It is another proportionally pleasing pipe. I started my work on the pipe by addressing the the darkening on the rim top and inner edge and smoothing out the roughness on the outer edge on the right front with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had finished it looked better. I polished the smooth rim and shank top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the debris. The bowl and rim looked very good so I rubbed it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about 10-15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter. I was able to raise most of the marks but a few remained on both sides. I filled them in with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once they had cured I used a small file to flatten them and start blending them into the surface of the stem. I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the vulcanite. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. 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. This Craftsman Custom-Made Bullmoose is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The style of rustication that is used around the bowl highlights the grain that pokes through on the smooth rim and shank. It works well with both the shape and the polished vulcanite saddle stem. 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 multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 Craftsman Custom-Made Bullmoose is another pipe that 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 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 47g/1.66oz. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipemakers Section shortly. 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!