Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe is a very unique one both in terms of design and shape. I have never seen anything like it. It is called a Sepra-Bol pipe. I thought this would be another chance to walk you through my process of working on each pipe that we purchase. Jeff has set up a spread sheet to track where the pipe came from, the date of purchase and what we paid for it so that we know what we have invested in the pipe before we even work on it. This takes a lot of the guess work out of the process. This particular pipe was purchased on 10/27/2022 from an Antique Shop in Seaside, Oregon, USA. I also want you to understand why we take the photos we do. If you have followed for a while then you will see the familiar pattern of the photos we include both in the before and midstream process of working on a pipe. It is not accidental as the photos have been taken to help me make an assessment of the pipe Jeff sees before he starts his clean up work. The photos of this pipe has some extra photos. We do this to record the condition that the pipe was in when received it and to assess what kind of work will need to be done on. When I look at these photos this is what I see.
- The first thing I see is very unique looking pipe with a raised shank and a U-shaped double bowl – front one is larger than the back one. There is a Bakelite on the top of the second bowl and a Bakelite clean out cover on the lower part of the rear bowl. It has a vulcanite saddle stem. It is well proportioned and interesting old pipe.
- The finish is dirty and there is grime and grit ground into sides of the bowl. There seems to be a coat of varnish on top over the briar. It barely hides the many fills in the bowl sides. There seems to be some interesting grain amidst the fills.
- The rim top has some light lava and debris on the back rim top and the inner edge is coated with cake from the bowl. There is some darkening around the inner edge and top of the bowl. I think cleaning will reveal a real beauty.
- The bowl has a thick cake and debris on the walls that hides the walls and some grime on the inner edge of the bowl but once it is clean we will know what the bowl and edges really look like. The outer edges look good and there does not appear to be any obvious burn damage to the top or bowl edges. The cap on the second bowl is dirty and inside it is dirty as well.
- The vulcanite saddle stem is in good condition – dirty, oxidized and has tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of button. There is no logo on the stem sides.
Overall my impressions of this pipe is that it is a great looking pipe even with the putty fills around the bowl sides. I think that once cleaned up it will look pretty amazing. The shape looks like it will be comfortable to hold. The photos below confirm the assessment above.Jeff took close up photos so that I could have a clearer picture of the condition of the bowl, rim edges and top. The rim top photos confirm my assessment above. The cake in the bowl is thick with tobacco debris stuck on the walls. The rim top has light lava, grime and darkening around the top and edges in the rusticated surface. You can also see the condition of the outer edge and the inner edge is in great condition. The back bowl with the Bakelite cap shows dirt and grime as well. This is what I look for when assessing a pipe. There is no visible burn damage at this point. The bowl is still round and other than being in a used condition it is in great shape. The photos of the vulcanite stem surface from various angles confirmed my assessment of its condition. You can see that it is dirty in the first photo below. The stem has some tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. Instead of telling you what I see in the next photos of the sides of the bowl and the heel I want to hear from you. Tell me what you see? What does the finish look like to you? Are there any visible problems or issues that stand out to you? Are the cracks or scratches in the valleys of the rustication or the high spots? Are there visible fills, flaws or fissures in the briar? Any visible issues on the heel of the bowl? These questions should help you to see what I am looking for when I see these photos. Jeff took photos of the Bakelite bowl cap on the second bowl and the clean out cap in place in the bowl. He took them from the bowl and took photos of them to show what they look like when removed. It is an interesting set up. Jeff took photos of the fills around the bowl sides. They look swollen and enlarged. They are very visible in the photos below. They well need to be cleaned up, sanded and repaired to try to hide them in the surrounding briar. As the pipe stands at the moment the fills really are a mess.He took photos of the stamping on heel of the bowl. It reads Imported Briar [over] Sepra Bol. Underneath that it is stamped P.O Box 18202 [over] Houston 23, Texas USA. Stamped under that it reads Pat. Pending. On the underside of the shank at the shank/stem union it is stamped ITALY. What stands out for you in the photos of the stamping on the pipe? What do you look for in the stamping? I know it is dirty but what do you see underneath the grime on the surface of the briar? When I am working on pipes I like to get a sense of the history of the brand of the pipe and try to get a feel for the pipe maker. I turned to Pipephil’s site and to Pipedia to see what I could learn about Sep-ra Bol pipes. There was nothing listed for the brand there.
I googled the Sep-ra Bol pipe to see what I could find out about the brand. One of the links took me to imgur.com (https://i.imgur.com/0LjqtVQ.jpg). There was a great advertisement for the pipe included there. I have done a screen capture of the advert and included it below. Give it a read as it a fascinating description of the specialty pipe.
I love the description of the pipe as “a new, exclusive two bowl principle protects your health…adds to the rich tobacco flavor… and is easy to clean. No wasteful, gummy heel. No unpleasant odors…no metal. Doesn’t cause heart-burn or upset digestion. A fine briar pipe endorsed by smokers everywhere… The smoke is filtered through your favourite tobacco so it is always cool and dry.”
I have included a blown up photo of the diagram describing the function of the pipe. It is much as I expected.The Imgur site also had another advertisement on the pipe. I have included it below. It give a clear photo of the pipe with tobacco inserted in the second bowl to act as a filter and says that it is easily replaceable. It also connects the pipe to the maker – International Allied Industries – Hialeah, Florida. With that collection of information and advertisements digested it was now time for me to work on the pipe.
I am once again including the link to Jeff’s clean up process blog. Please remember that the point of these blogs is not to wow you with the work or make you shake your heads but I want you to know the details of the work we do so you can do your own. Back in 2020 Jeff wrote a blog about his cleaning process. I am including a link to that now so you can see what I mean about his process. Do not skip it! Give it a read (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/20/got-a-filthy-estate-pipe-that-you-need-to-clean/). Here is the introduction to that blog and it is very true even to this day.
Several have asked about Jeff’s cleaning regimen as I generally summarize it in the blogs that I post rather than give a detailed procedure. I have had the question asked enough that I asked Jeff to put together this blog so that you can get a clear picture of the process he uses. Like everything else in our hobby, people have different methods they swear by. Some may question the method and that is fine. But it works very well for us and has for many years. Some of his steps may surprise you but I know that when I get the pipes from him for my part of the restoration they are impeccably clean and sanitized. I have come to appreciate the thoroughness of the process he has developed because I really like working on clean pipe!
For the benefit of some of you who may be unfamiliar with some of the products he uses I have included photos of three of the items that Jeff mentions in his list. This will make it easier for recognition. These three are definitely North American Products so you will need to find suitable replacements or order these directly on Amazon. The makeup pads are fairly universal as we were able to pick some up in India when we were with Paresh and his family.
In the blog itself he breaks his process down into two parts – cleaning the stem and cleaning the bowl. Each one has a large number of steps that he methodically does every time. I know because I have watched him do the work and I have seen the pipes after his work on them. He followed this process step by step and when the pipe got to me it was spotlessly clean and ready for my work. The inside of the stem, shank and bowl were clean and to me that is an amazing gift as it means that my work on this end is with a clean pipe! I cannot tell you how much difference that makes for my work.
- This very unique looking pipe with a raised shank and a U-shaped double bowl – front one is larger than the back one. There is a Bakelite on the top of the second bowl and a Bakelite clean out cover on the lower part of the rear bowl. It has a vulcanite saddle stem. It is well proportioned and interesting old pipe. It is clean and smells fresh.
- The finish is clean and the grime and grit have been removed from the finish on the bowl. The smooth briar looks very good thought the fills on the sides of the bowl are numerous and quite ugly.
- The darkening, lava, grime and dust on the rim top has been removed and it has revealed that the inner edge is clean and burn free. The outer edge of the bowl is also in good condition. The edges of the second bowl under the cap also look very good. The Bakelite caps on the second bowl and the clean out look very good.
- With the cake reamed out the walls of the bowl are clean and they show no checking or burn damage to the walls.
- The vulcanite saddle stem looks very good and cleaned up well. The light tooth marks an chatter will be easily polished out. There is no logo on the sides of the stem.
Hopefully the steps above show you both what I look for when I go over the pipe when I bring it to the work table and also what I see when I look at the pipe in my hands. They also clearly spell out a restoration plan in short form. My work is clear and addressing it will be the next steps. I took photos of the whole pipe to give you a picture of what I see when I have it on the table. This is important to me in that it also shows that there was no damage done during the clean up work or the transit of the pipe from Idaho to here in Vancouver. I carefully went over the bowl and rim top to get a sense of what is happening there. In this case once the rim top and edges were cleaned the rim top and inner edge showed no damage. The darkening on the rim top and edges was also gone. The varnish coat is spotty on the rim top and edges. The second bowl cap and clean out cap look very good. I go over the stem carefully. The fit to the shank is snug and the transitions are smooth. There were some light tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the stem and the button. I took photos of the rim top and stem sides to show as best as I can what I see when I look at them. I always check to make sure that the clean up work did not damage the stamping on the heel of the bowl and the underside of the shank in any way. It is in excellent condition and is very clear and readable.I love just looking at the lay of the pipe and the proportion of a pipe. I took the pipe apart to get a sense of what was in the mind of the pipe maker when he crafted the pipe. The photo shows its beauty in flow and shape. Even with the ugly fills in the bowl sides it is still a beauty. It was time to go to work on seeing what I could do with the fills in the bowl. They were so ugly that they cannot remain the way they are so I will need to do a bit of work to blend them into the surface of the surrounding briar. I started the process of reworking the shrunken fills. I stained the sunken fills with an Oak stain pen and then filled them in with clear CA glue. I spread the glue and flattened out the repairs areas using a dental spatula. I set it aside to cure. Once it had cured I sanded the repaired areas smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surrounding briar. I polished out the sanding on the bowl sides with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I stained the briar with an Oak stain pen and it looked much better. I restained the bowl with a medium brown aniline stain. I applied it with a cotton dauber and then flamed it with a lighter to set the stain in the briar. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage.Once the stain cured I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding lightly with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each sanding pad to trace the progress in the polishing. It definitely took on a shine with each successive pad. I rubbed down the bowl and shank with Before & After Restoration Balm. It is a paste/balm that is rubbed into the surface of the briar. The product works to deep clean the nooks and crannies of finish, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it into the briar with my finger tips. I let it sit for 10 minutes then wiped it off with a soft cloth then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The briar really began to have a deep shine in the briar and the rustication showed depth. The photos I took of the bowl at this point mark the progress in the restoration. It is a gorgeous pipe. I polished the bowl cap and clean out cap with micromesh sanding pads. I used 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the caps down with Obsidian Oil. The caps took on a shine. I put the caps in place on the bowl and took some photos of the bowl at this point in the restoration process. It is a beauty and while the fills are still present they are less intrusive. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem surface at the button with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. I was able to lift them all quite well. I sanded out what remained with 220 grit sandpaper and the starting the polishing with 600 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and water to wet sand the stem. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil on a cotton rag after each sanding pads. I know that many say Obsidian Oil does nothing for acrylic stems, but I find it does two things – first it gives some protection to the stem from buildup and second it give the sanding pads bite in the polishing process. After finishing with the micromesh pads I rub the stem down with Before & After Fine and Extra Fine stem polish as it seems to really remove the fine scratches in the vulcanite. I rub the Fine Polish on the stem and wipe it off with a paper towel and then repeat the process with the Extra Fine polish. I finish the polishing of the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to let the oil absorb. This process gives the stem a shine and also a bit of protection. The final steps in my process involve using the buffer. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the light scratches in the acrylic. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I have found that I can get a deeper shine if I follow up the wax buff with a buff with a clean buffing pad. It works to raise the shine and then I hand buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is always fun for me to see what the polished bowl looks like with the polished stem. It really is a nice pipe. The finish around the bowl sides and shank looks great with the rich brown stains. The stain hides the fills quite well. The Sepra Bol Imported Briar Two Bowl Billiard feels great in my hand. It is a well balanced pipe. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ 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 1.69 ounces/48 grams. It is such an interesting Sepra Bol Twin Bowl pipe that I will be keeping it here in my own collection. I look forward to enjoy a bowl in it soon. It should be a great smoking pipe.
Hopefully the style of this blog is helpful to you in some way. In it I wanted to show both what I am looking for and how I move forward in addressing what I see when work on a pipe. Let me know if it is helpful to you. It is probably the most straightforward detailed description of my work process that I have done. As always I encourage your questions and comments as you read the blog. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipe men and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of those who follow us.