Tag Archives: Barling pipes

A Simple Restoration of an Early Transition Era Barling 2639


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Having worked on a few difficult projects from my Mumbai Bonanza, involving major stem reconstruction and addressing flaws in the stummel (read refreshing fills!!) taking a lot of time and heartburn and efforts which had left me drained, I decided to work on something simple and relatively quick refurbishing of pipes from my inherited collection.

The Barling pipe on my work table is an exquisite bent billiards with beautiful and very tightly packed bird’s eye grains on either side of the bowl and shank, extending over to more than half of the front of the stummel. Equally tightly packed cross grains are seen on the front left and back of the bowl and also on the upper and bottom surface of the shank. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “BARLING” in script hand over the numeral “2639” over “LONDON ENGLAND”. There is no other stamping seen on the stummel. The double bore vulcanite saddle stem bears the trademark Barling stamped in cross on the upper surface of the saddle.Even though there are quite a few Barlings in my grandfather’s collection, this beauty is the second of the Barling’s that I shall be restoring. During my reading while working on my first Barling, I had read about this brand, its passage through times and pointers towards their dating. To refresh my memory about the brand, the lines offered by the maker and attempt to date this particular pipe, I visited Pipedia which has a wealth of neatly cataloged heading-wise information on Barling’s pipes. From the stamping seen on this pipe and correlating it with my information, it was immediately apparent that this one is definitely not a Family Era pipe, but a later era pipe. Luckily, on the same page, towards the end, there is a link to 1962 Barling catalog, courtesy Yuriy Novikov. This catalog, on page 7 shows the pipe which is on my work table, here is the link to this catalog: https://pipedia.org/images/d/d9/BARLING_CATALOG_1962.pdf

From the above information, it is conclusive that this piece is a size 2, flat bent billiard from the Transition period/ Corporate era and was made during 1962. The minimalist stamping and the double bore stem indicate that this pipe was intended to be sold in the local markets.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
This pipe was one of the pipes that Abha, my wife had sent me after she had reamed out complete cake back to the bare briar and cleaned the stummel exterior and rim top surface with Murphy’s oil soap. She had also cleaned out the mortise and the shank using regular and hard bristled pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. The cleaned up pipe on my work table now, can be seen in the following pictures. It really feels nice to work on a clean pipe; I must admit and cannot help but thank her for doing all the dirty work and saving me time while sharing my hobby. Unfortunately, she did not click any pictures of the condition of the pipe before she worked her magic on them. When I inquired about the condition before she had cleaned it, her one line reply was “no different from his (grandfather’s) other pipes!!!” For those who have been reading my previous write ups would recollect that my grandfather never really believed in cleaning his pipes, he would rather buy new ones when the old pipes chocked up and became unsmokable. From the present condition of the pipe, there are only two issues that I would need to address on the stummel; one is the darkened rim top surface with an uneven inner rim edge and the other is slightly deep gouges on the chamber walls. The vulcanite stem is heavily scratched and shows deep oxidation on the surface. Some heavy tooth chatter is seen on both surfaces of the stem towards the lip with few deep bite marks on the upper and lower surfaces. This issue should not be a major headache to address. The lip edge on both sides is distinct but damaged showing tooth marks. The quality of vulcanite is good.THE PROCESS
I flamed the surface of the stem with a Bic lighter to raise the tooth indentations and scratches on the stem. The heat from the flame of Bic lighter causes the vulcanite to expand and regain its natural shape, reducing the marks. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to reduce the tooth chatter while removing the oxidation from the area to be filled. I wiped the stem surface clean with a cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove all the dust and dirt from the surface. The tooth marks which were visible after the flaming and sanding were filled with a mix of activated charcoal and clear CA superglue and I set it aside to cure overnight. While the stem fill was set aside for curing, I decided to address the darkened rim top surface and the uneven inner rim edge issue observed on the stummel. I did not resort to topping straight away, but decided to try scrubbing the rim top with Murphy’s oil soap and scotch brite pad. The result of this scrubbing far exceeded my expectations. The rim top is now clean and there are no traces of rim darkening. To address the issue of an uneven inner rim edges, with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I created a slight bevel to the inner edge. The rim top and inner edge issues are now pristine. The next step in the process was to bring out the shine and highlight the beautiful grain on the stummel. I had an option of using more abrasive 220 grit sandpaper followed by micromesh pad cycle and loose the patina or straight away go to the micromesh cycle. Using the more abrasive sand paper, minor dents and dings would be further addressed but I would lose out the old sheen which the briar has taken over the years.  I decided on keeping the old sheen and went straight for the micromesh cycle. I wet sand the stummel with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and follow it up by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. The stummel, at this stage, looks absolutely stunning with the grain popping out from every inch. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Turning my attention to the stem, I first covered the stamping on the stem with whitener using a whitener pen. The filling of charcoal and CA superglue had cured and using a needle file, I sand the filling to match the surface of the stem. For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sandpapers. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. The internals of the stem was cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners. The finished stem is shown below. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel (actually it is not the brand machine, but a local machine which is similar).  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs in this case, do not do justice to the appearance of this beautiful little pipe. This beautiful piece of briar, without a single blemish to the stummel, will find a place of pride in my collection. If only it could tell me stories it had witnessed and experiences, trials and tribulations and joyous moments in my grandfather’s life journey!!!! Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up. PS: This project was a welcome break from the previous difficult stem reconstruction and stummel restoration projects that had posed a challenging obstacle at every stage in the process. I must thank my wife, Abha, who had done all the dirty work and presented a simple and quick refurbishing project.

 

Decking out my Grandfather’s Battered Pre-transition Barling # 1354.


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

In one of a first, I had decided to work on four pipes simultaneously. Well, honestly, it was a decision which was forced on me due to extraneous circumstances that I had created for me. It so happened that after having discussed with my mentor, Mr. Steve, I decided to work on a John Bessai creation from my Grandfather’s collection. As I was turning the John Bessai in my hands, I felt that there were not very many major issues involved in its restoration and the small Barling’s, also from my old man’s collection, appeared to be a straight slam dunk of a restoration. Thus, I decided to work on both simultaneously, which appeared doable. However, things turned in to a challenge when I was just surfing YouTube on pipe restoration topics. In one of the videos, Hydrogen Peroxide and water solution was used to raise the oxidation to the surface and subsequent cleaning of the same was a breeze. I decided to try out this method and in order to make max use of the solution; I dunked stems of two more pipes in to it. Now I have four pipes in line to restore. I can still manage the restorations; it is the write ups that are a huge challenge for me as Mr. Steve will vouch for the delayed submissions.

The Barling’s Make pipe on my work table is a quaint little billiards with beautiful and very tightly packed birdseye grains on either side of the bowl and shank, extending over to more than half of the front of the stummel. Equally tightly packed cross grains are seen on the front left and back of the bowl and also on the upper and bottom surface of the shank. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “BARLING’S” in an arch with block capital letters over “MAKE” in a straight line over the numeral “1354”. The right side of the shank bears the spaced out stamp “S M” towards the bowl shank junction. The vulcanite saddle stem bears the trademark Barling stamped in cross on the upper surface of the saddle and “Barling” over “Design” in a cursive hand on the lower surface of the saddle.  Even though there are quite a few Barling’s in grandfather’s collection, this beauty is the first of the Barling’s that I am trying to restore. To know more about the brand, the lines offered by the maker and attempt to date this pipe, I visited Pipedia which has a wealth of neatly cataloged heading-wise information on Barling’s pipes. Here is the link and the snippets of relevant information that I picked up https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barling#Model_Numbers:

Model Numbers:

Also according to Tad Gage, the only four-digit number that denotes a Pre-Transition piece begins with “1,” which was used for pipes sold in England. Any other four-digit Barling pipe is a Transitional piece– (Tad Gage in P & T magazine).

Model numbers were occasionally stamped below the logo as early as the late 1920’s.

Other Nomenclature:

The “MADE IN ENGLAND.” stamp was in use in the 1930’s thru 1962. As with all things related to Barling nomenclature there are variations. Sometimes there is no “MADE IN ENGLAND.” stamp. Examples exist with a “MADE IN LONDON” over “ENGLAND” stamp. And, there are examples with “MADE IN ENGLAND” with no period after the word “ENGLAND”.

Size Stampings:

Up to 1926 and possibly beyond, Barling used specific, completely unrelated, model numbers to designate the various sizes of a specific shape. They produced pipes in three sizes, small, medium, and large.  

Barling’s published price lists show that they continued to offer pipes in only three sizes, small, medium, and large until 1941. That’s it, small, medium, and large. So when someone claims that they have a 1930’s EL, EXEL, or other size, they are mistaken.
In 1941 the published range of sizes expanded. Going from the smallest to the largest, they are SS, S, S-M, L, EL, EXEL, and EXEXEL. There is no “G” for giant. Giant pipes, or magnums, which are oversized standard billiards, were not stamped “G” but are commonly identified by collectors as such because they are obviously large relative to even EXEXEL pipes, and carried no size stampings (Gage).

Size stamps were rare before WW2, but we do an example from 1925 that we will discuss later as it is part of a forgotten class of Barling pipes.

Patent Stamps:

In addition to the stampings on the briar, Barling stems had stampings that relate to specific periods. In 1935 Barling received a patent for a stem design that radically improved airflow as well as cooling of the smoke.

Pipes made in 1934-5 may have the words “Reg’d Design” on the underside.

Following the granting of the patent in 1935, Barling stems featured the following patent numbers:

REG’D 98 046 – US patent number – 1936 – 1949 • REG’D 42/8968 – WW2 production – 1942 – 1950 • REG’D 754 068 – WW2 production • Barling Design – 1950 – 1962

 Not all pipes have this stamping on the underside of the stem, but its presence is a good indicator for the period of manufacture, assuming that the stem is original.

Throughout their history Barling continued to innovate in the area of stem and bit design.

From the above information, it is conclusively assumed that this piece is from the Family era/ Pre- transition period and was made somewhere during 1950s to 1960s. The minimalist stampings indicate that this pipe was intended to be sold in the local markets.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber shows a nice even build up of a thick cake which makes it difficult to comment on the condition of the inner walls of the chamber. There is a thick overflow of lava and completely covers the rim top and further spills over on to the stummel surface. The condition of the inner edge of the rim and rim surface will be ascertained only after chamber has been reamed down to its bare briar. The outer rim, however, is damaged and has a number of chips and dents, probably caused due to hitting the bowl against a hard surface to remove the dottle! Criminal, to say the least! The surface of the stummel is covered by the overflowing lava, which in turn has attracted a lot of dirt and grime over a period of time. The stummel surface is peppered with numerous dents and dings, more so towards the heel of the bowl, probably caused due to careless and uncared for storage for the last 40-45 years!!!! It will be a big decision whether to address these dents and dings by abrasive sanding method and loose the patina which has developed on the surface, or let them be. Well, I shall cross the bridge when I reach it. The mortise is surprisingly clean and air flow through it is open and full. The vulcanite stem is heavily scratched, but not oxidized. Some light tooth chatter is seen on both surfaces of the stem towards the lip with one deep bite mark on the upper surface. This issue should not be a major headache to address. The lip edge on both sides is crisp but lightly damage. The quality of vulcanite is good.THE PROCESS
I did not soak the stem of this pipe in the Hydrogen Peroxide solution as I was not sure how it would affect the stamping and so decided to play it safe. I flamed the stem surface of the stem with a Bic lighter to raise the tooth indentations and scratches on the stem. The heat from the flame of Bic lighter causes the vulcanite to expand and regain its natural shape, reducing the marks. The tooth bite marks which were visible after the flaming were filled with a mix of activated charcoal and clear CA superglue and I set it aside to cure overnight. I reamed the chamber with size 1 head of a PipNet reamer and followed it with a size 2 reamer head. To reach the areas where the PipNet reamer could not reach to remove the carbon cake, I used my smaller fabricated knife and scraped out all the remaining cake. I further use a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to sand out the last traces of remaining cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage. I gently scraped the rim top surface with a sharp knife to remove the lava overflow. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This further eliminated traces of old smells from previous usage. The old smell was still prevalent, though greatly reduced. To completely eliminate the smell, I decided to resort to alcohol bath. I packed the chamber, just below the rim, with cotton balls. I stretched a cotton ball into a thick wick, tapering at one end, and inserted it in to the shank and pushed it as far inside as I could using a straightened paper clip. I topped the bowl with isopropyl alcohol using a syringe. I know that it is generally a practice to use Kosher salt for this procedure, but since Kosher salt is not easily available here, and when available, it’s very expensive, I use cotton balls. I find that cotton balls work just fine in drawing out all the tars and smells from the mortise and the bowl. I topped the bowl with alcohol again after 20 minutes when the alcohol level had gone down and set it aside overnight for the cotton and alcohol to do its intended job.The next day, the cotton and alcohol had fulfilled its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. The internals of the stummel is now clean and fresh. Now, it was the turn of the stummel to get cleaned up. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the surface of the stummel. I cleaned the rim too. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. I am not very happy the way the rim top appears at this stage with all the charring and uneven inner and outer rim edges. This needs to be addressed. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. While the stummel was drying, I worked the stem. I covered the stampings on the stem with whitener using a whitener pen. The filling of charcoal and CA superglue had cured and using a needle file, I sand the filling to match the surface of the stem. For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stem with 220 followed by 400 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. The internals of the stem was cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners. The finished stem is shown below. After cleaning the rim top with Murphy’s oil soap, I had observed that the rim top surface was charred and the inner edge was uneven, presenting a very sorry appearance. I topped the rim on a 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently till I was satisfied that the charred surface was greatly reduced. The inner edge is still uneven, though much better than before topping, it will need to be addressed.Next, I decided to address the dents and dings on the stummel surface and on the rim outer edge. Using a whitener pen, I marked all the major areas with dents and dings as I had decided to leave the minor ones as they were. I heated my fabricated knife over the flame of a candle, placed a wet Turkish hand towel over the marked areas and steamed out the dents by placing the heated knife over the towel. Though some dents were still observed, these were greatly reduced when compared to before steaming.The steaming method had raised to the surface all the major dents and dings. However, the outer and inner edges of the rim were still uneven. I took a piece of used and worn 180 grit sand paper, folded it and pinching it between my thumb and forefinger, created a slight inner bevel on the inner edge of the rim. Using the same technique, I created a light bevel on the outer edge. Now the rim surface and both its edges appear clean, even and well rounded.Steaming out the dents and dings from the stummel surface had necessitated that the surface of the stummel be evened out by sanding. I had an option of using more abrasive 220 grit sand paper followed by micromesh pad cycle and loose the patina or straight away go to the micromesh cycle. Using the more abrasive sand paper, minor dents and dings would be further addressed but I would lose the old sheen which the briar has taken over the years.  I decided on keeping the old sheen and went straight for the micromesh cycle. The old patina and the minor dents and dings would add to the vintage look of the pipe, which it was. I wet sand the stummel with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and follow it up by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel (actually it is not the brand machine, but a local machine which is similar).  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further.The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs in this case, do not do justice to the appearance of this beautiful little pipe. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up.

Restoring a beautiful Barling Vintage 6279 Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe from the estate lot my brother found and sent to me was a Barling Pot. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Barling over London England there is a thin line and under that it reads Vintage. On the underside of the shank it is stamped 6279 which is the shape number. My brother took the following photos of the pipe when he got home from the estate sale. These document the state of the pipe before he started his cleanup.Jeff took some photos of the rim top and the condition of the bowl. The bowl had a thick cake in it and it had overflowed onto the beveled rim top with a thick coat of lava.The next two photos show the grain on the pipe. There was one small sandpit on the bottom front of the bowl and another on the right side of the bowl. Both have been filled with tan putty that blends in really well with the stain on the briar.The next two photos show the stamping on the pipe. The first shows the left side and the second shows the underside of the shank. My brother had also turned the stem over to show the Barling cross on the stem. It had faded and the white paint that is usually in it was gone.The last two photos showed the now familiar tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem next to the button. Fortunately these were not too deep in the vulcanite either and should be able to be cleaned up quite easily.Dating Barling pipes always proves interesting to me. I get all of the eras confused and find that pinning down some dates is difficult if not nigh on impossible (at least for me). The four digit shape number was the first thing I checked out. I found a catalogue page from a 1962 Barling Catalogue on Pipedia’s post on Barling Pipes that gave me a listing of shape numbers. The 6279 shape is a Pot Bevel with a flat stem according to the chart. The pipe I have indeed a Pot shape with a beveled rim top. However, it did not have a flat stem. It had a taper stem. That was the first anomaly I found regarding this pipe. I like the taper stem on this one. It works well with the shape. (I have outlined the shape of this pipe with a blue box in the photo below.)I did some more work on the internet to try to figure out when the Vintage finish pipes were made and sold. I read several articles but found nothing specific until I found another article on Pipedia under the following heading. I quote that section of the article in full.

Lines and Nomenclature (https://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Barling)

During the late 1970’s additional lines of pipes were introduced and the Company was restyled as Barling of England. In the late 1970’s production of Barling pipes was shifted to Denmark where Eric Nording manufactured Barling pipes for Imperial. There may have been other factories, but as of this writing, none has been identified. Nording stated that he made approximately 100.000 pipes for Imperial.

It was at this point that Ronald Harden, general manager of Barling, stepped in to attempt to save the brand from extinction. Through the efforts of Mr. Harden, Bucktrout and Company bought the rights to the Barling name and at this point operations were moved to the Isle of Man with Mr. Harden as chairman. The company was renamed Barling Pipes Ltd. From that point on, the goal was to restore the old tradition of pipemaking from the family era. New equipment was installed and pipes were made following the Pre-Transition patterns. In 1980, rather than becoming a footnote in pipemaking history, the new line of Barling pipes was introduced.

Some of the Pre-Transition nomenclature was restored, such as the old SS thru EXEXEL size system even though the pipes continued to be stamped with a 4-digit number that also included a size designation. The use of a “Barling’s Make” block letter logo was reintroduced on the 1978 series of pipes, though the logo is on one line with no arched lettering. And both the “Ye Olde Wood” and “TVF” stamping was brought back.

Barling was established as a mid market level pipe and remained such through a portion of the 1990’s. Most recently inexpensive pipes bearing the Barling name, but made by Peterson have been available for sale in the US.

The first highlighted box above gives the information on the Vintage finish Barling in the part of the quoted article that notes the four ranges. The one I had was found in Number 2 above. The information included there gave me a starting date of the late 1970’s for the manufacture of the Barling that I was working on. In the second highlighted box I found a date of 1980 when Imperial closed down Barling operations entirely. This gives a 5-7 year window when the pipe could have been made. So I am working on either a 40-42 year old pipe or a 30-32 year old pipe. I was actually successful in finding the information on the little Barling Vintage Pot that was on my work table. Better informed than when I began, I could turn my attention to working on the pipe itself.

I took the next four photos of the pipe when it arrived in Vancouver. My brother had done an exceptional job cleaning it up. The pipe looked really good. The finish was clean and the rim was spotless. I took a close up photo of the rim to show the condition it was in when it came. Jeff had reamed it really well and had cleaned off all of the lava on the rim. Somehow the lava had protected the beveled rim from damage or burn marks. It was in excellent shape.The stem showed oxidation as well as tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. The Barling cross on the stem was faded but it was well stamped and could be repainted.I ran a pipe cleaner and alcohol through the airway in the stem and the shank and cleaned out the mortise with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove any remaining tars or oils in those areas. The pipe was really clean as I expected.I buffed the stem with red Tripoli and wiped it down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust and grit that remained in the Barling Cross. I painted that area on the stem with white acrylic paint to fill in the vertical and horizontal Barling name that was crossed on the top side of the stem near the tenon end. I pushed the paint into the letters and wiped off the excess with a soft, dry cotton pad.I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar. You can see the three small filled sandpits in the first photo and the one toward the bottom of the bowl in the second photo. The fourth photo shows three small fills on the bottom of the bowl. I circled the fills in red in the photos. These fills showed me what I was expecting in a pipe from this era. In the second highlighted portion of the Pipedia article that spoke of closing the pipe, it noted that:“Despite these attempts to diversify the line, Barling lost its market. These pipes just weren’t equivalent to the family era pipes.” I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to working on the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli to further remove the oxidation on the stem. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads to polish it further. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad to enliven the vulcanite. I gave it a final coat after the 12000 grit pad and set it aside to dry. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads as well. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp cotton pad. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down after each set of three sanding pads. The more I polished the briar the more the fills on the right side and the front began to blend into the briar. Notice how they are disappearing in the following photos. After polishing with the final three pads (6000-12000 grit) the briar really shined and the fills though still present did not stick out so much. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful pipe. Even the small fills that are around the sides and bottom of the bowl do not detract from the great shape and look of the pipe. This Barling Vintage pipe will soon be on sale on the rebornpipes store. It will make a great addition to someone’s rack and should be a good smoker as the mechanics are really well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside bowl diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Check it out there and if you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook and the pipe can be yours. Thanks for looking.

A Pair of Barling Canadians – The Trust Continues


Quite a few years ago I received a pair of Barlings Canadian bowls from the late Mike Leverette. We had exchanged quite a few pipes and tobaccos over the years and one day I received an email from him saying that he had sent me a pair of Canadians that needed stems but were otherwise in great shape. They were clean and ready except for a lack of stems. When they arrived they were beautiful the top on had a stunning sandblast – deep and rugged. The other had a good sandblast but not nearly as rugged. The two were oval shank pipes but one was slightly smaller and shorter than the other. The stamping on them was also different. The top pipe (below) is stamped in a line across the underside of the shank, Barling in script over London England, EXEL 5574 T.V.F. The bottom pipe is stamped slightly different. It begins with Barling in script over London England. That is followed by EXEL over 5579 and then it is followed by T.V.F.

I cleaned them and gave them a polish and sent them to Dave Wolf at Walker Briar Works for restemming. I wanted replacement stems that had the Barling cross stamp on them and new that Dave had the stamps to do that. Once I sent them to him the wait was not very long and they came back polished and stemmed. The photo below shows the pipes as they looked when they arrived and I took them out of the package.
Barlings 001
I took them out of the pipe cupboard the other evening to polish them and remind myself of the story behind them. For me, part of the joy of being a pipe man is to remember/know the stories attached to my pipes. Some of them the stories begin with me as I can find no information on them. Others come to me with a long history that makes them very interesting. This pair comes with that history. Mike bought them in a lot on EBay and figured I would enjoy them. He took the time to ream and clean them before he sent them my way. My story with the pipes is at least 12 years old if not more. Add to that Mike’s history with them and I can trace their story back 15 or more years. I enjoy that kind of thing. The only thing that would make it even better is to be able to know a bit more of the back story. Ah well, as I smoke them I raise a bowl in memory of Mike. I took the next three photos this evening to show the pair as they look now. Both have a few more years and smokes on them but they remain in great shape and have many more years left in them.
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IMG_5972

IMG_5974
I also decided to take a few pictures of each of the pipes separately to give you a better picture of their individual characteristics. The next series of four photos show the 5579, the bottom pipe in the photos above. It has a lighter blast and the stain took to the briar in a different way than it did on the deeper blasted 5574. Interestingly it is the same colour stain on both pipes – the variation is caused by the briar.
IMG_5982
There is gracefulness to this Canadian shape. Barling makes the shape like no one else does and I think it epitomizes the English version of the shape. The blast is well done showing both the ring grain and the vertical lines on both the shank and the bowl. The taper from bowl to button on the stems is very graceful as well. Dave was able to capture the look of the original stem very well.
IMG_5983
The blast carries on to the rim as well and ends as the inner edge of the rim bevels inward toward the bowl. The bevel is smooth as is the strip on the bottom of the shank where the stamping is located. There is also a smooth band at the stem shank union.
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The stamping is clear but faint on the Barling portion. The T.V.F. stamp is tight against the end of the shank.
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The second pipe, the 5574 is a different pipe. The look of the shape is not nearly as refined as the first pipe. The craggy blast and the shape of the bowl make the look more rugged and not nearly as elegant looking. The tactile nature of the blast though is amazing as bowl heats up during a smoke. The stain is also variegated on the pipe. It gives the pipe a mottled look that is even clearer in person. I like the look of the mottled appearance as combined with the texture it makes a very interesting pipe to look at and observe while I am smoking it. There are times when I am holding this pipe that I find myself drawn to just sit and examine it, turning it from side to side to look at the texture and finish.
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The craggy texture of the blast is carried through on both sides of the bowl while the shank is much more reserved and smoother. I am not sure whether it came this way originally or is that way from wear. I tend to think it was originally not as blasted as the bowl as the stamping in quite sharp on the bottom of the shank. I have found that a blast does not take as well on hard portions of the briar.
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The blast carries through to the top of the bowl and to the inner bevel on the rim. The bevel is smooth like the previous pipe as is the bottom of the shank and a small band at the stem shank union. I find that the taper on the shank to the stem is more dramatic than the previous pipe. If the blast was not unharmed I would attribute that to the restemming. It appears to have been like this when it left the Barling factory unless somewhere in its history it was previously restemmed and then repaired to look original.
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The stamping on this is very sharp from mid shank back toward the stem. The Barling script and London England stamping is not as sharp, though still very readable.
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I am pleased to have these two old pipes in my collection. Perhaps one of you who read this article can explain the difference in the shape numbers – 5574 and 5579 as I am unable to find any information online. It would be great to add that to the story. I will maintain the trust with them until the day comes that they pass into the hands of the next pipeman. They will then pass from my companioning to another’s and my story will be added to that of Mike’s. That is the thing I love about this hobby – the adding to the story of a pipe that occurs with each successive pipeman’s receipt of the trust. Until that day I will continue to fire them up and enjoy the great smoke that they deliver.

Refurb – Barling Garnet Grain Lovat


One of the classic shapes that I refurbished lately was this little Barling Lovat. It is stamped Barling in script (Post Trans I believe) then London England in block text under that and a third line – Garnet Grain. The bottom of the shank is stamped with the four digit shape number – 4189. The classic lines of this little pipe, to me show what Barling could do with these shapes. The reddish stain on the Garnet Grain pipes is one of the attractive features of this line of Barlings.

This one came to me in a lot of pipes I picked up along the way and it had obviously been sitting for a long time. The bowl had cobwebs deep inside and a musty smell to it. There was a crumbling cake though it was not thick, just soft. I reamed the bowl and cleaned out the bowl and shank with the usual pile of pipe cleaners and a shank brush with lots of Isopropyl alcohol. The outside of the bowl was spattered with white paint all around and some especially ground in along the shank so I scrubbed it with an alcohol cloth and put it in the alcohol bath.

While the bowl was soaking I worked on the stem. It had tooth chatter and a few light tooth marks that needed to be lifted and sanded out. The stem was badly oxidized and also smelled musty like the bowl. I scrubbed the interior with a lot of pipe cleaners and alcohol until they came out clean. I then tacked the bite marks and chatter with 240 grit sandpaper to smooth them out and followed that with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper and water. I finished sanding the stem with my usual regimen of micromesh pads from 1500-6000 grit. Each progressively higher  grit polished the stem more. I then took it to the buffer and buffed it with Tripoli and White Diamond being careful around the area that it meets the shank. I would give it a more thorough buffing and polishing with carnauba wax once I put it back on the finished bowl.

After I finished the stem I took the bowl out of the bath and dried it off. I sanded it with micromesh 2400 to 6000 grit to polish and remove any scratching and then restained it with an oxblood aniline stain that matched the colour that it had before. Once dry I put the stem on it and took it to the buffer and gave it a light buff with White Diamond and then multiple coats of carnauba wax. It is a perfect sized little Lovat in my opinion and spots a classic shape and look. Here are some pictures of the pipe after cleaning. I forgot to take pictures before I started cleaning it. Sometimes I get into a space and just work at them before I suddenly stop and remember that I did not take photos before starting.ImageImageImage

 

New Life for an Old Barling


I have often written on the blog that good refurbishing begins with observation of the work at hand. I never fail to spend time looking at a pipe and noting areas of concern before I work on it. That is probably why it is pretty simple to record the work I have done on the pipe after the fact. In the old Barling bent, who’s refurbishment is recorded in the following post, I chose to post the notes from my observations. Enjoy!

At Smokers Forums a friend and I have exchanged ideas and thoughts through pm’s, emails and phone calls for several years now. Our talks have covered much ground but seem to also involve at least a fair amount of chatting about refurbishing estate pipes. A couple of weeks ago he contacted me with an idea of somehow collaborating on a refurb. He had an old timer he wanted me to look at and talk over with him. It came in the mail and I gave him a call with what I saw as I handled the pipe and took it apart. The list below gives some of my observations about the pipe as I checked it out carefully.

  1. The band is crooked and turned on the shank. It may take heating the band to it to loosen it.
  2. The silver hallmarks are an anchor, lion and a shield. The shield should have a letter in it to identify the year but it is worn away. The band is made in Birmingham, England, and it is Sterling Silver. As for the year, the best I can do is estimate; it lies within a 20 year period – 1876-1895. We would need to check the dates on Barlings made in the 1800s, to see when it fits into their history. That could narrow it down. It also may be an aftermarket band that was added to repair the shank.
  3. The only stamping is Barling in script. I cannot see an “s” on it and certainly no apostrophe. That should also help date it. The tail on the “g” hooks or curls under several other letters.
  4. The divot in the bottom edge of the shank, for lack of a better word, is not a worn spot in the shank – interestingly once I cleaned the shank I lined up a pipe cleaner in the centre of the divot and it is perfectly aligned with the drilling of the airway. With the pipe cleaner in place (think drill bit) the divot is gone and the walls are all equal. I am thinking this is the divot that is often found in Oom Paul or bent shapes to drill the airway straight to the bowl. I am going to give that a bit more thought before I step in with a repair to the shank. I may get away with building up the tenon instead.
  5. The bowl is in very good shape. I cleaned it out and the walls are all sound and the bottom of the bowl is also sound – no sign of damage to the briar; though the airway comes out a little high on the side of the bowl. I may need to smoke a cigar to make some pipe mud to raise the bowl bottom a bit!
  6. There is a little damage to the front outer edge of the rim but it has been rounded with time.  The inner rim was damaged by a reaming with a knife and is slightly out of round. I have already remedied that with sandpaper.
  7. The design of the tenon is very interesting. It is almost a reverse funnel (think inside of a funnel). The curvature at the tenon and step down is such that it provides a bit of a cooling chamber in the sump of the pipe almost like those new fangled calabash things that are hitting the market now.
  8. The vulcanite is very hard and does not seem to show any oxidation. I have seen that before on these old timers – they use a very good quality of rubber and maybe less sulfur in the mix to vulcanize it. Not sure but for some reason they hold the black colour without any browning.
  9. The stem has a few tooth marks – 2 on top and two on the bottom. Some minor tooth chatter as well.
  10. The silver band is also angled like it was put on crooked after it was misaligned. The hallmarks should be on the side but seem to be on the top.
  11. It appears that there is a crack in the shank that was repaired and then banded.

Chuck and I talked through this list a bit on the phone and then through pms on Smokers Forums and he left it to me to see what I could do with the old pipe. Here are some pictures of the pipe when it arrived. The finish was pretty much gone but there was some great looking grain underneath. The issues I pointed out above will be clearly visible by looking at the photos in the first series of three. All of the external issues are visible in these photos.

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Once the stem was removed from the pipe several other issues became apparent. The biggest one that we discussed was the way the mortise was worn and out of round. You can see the dip or divot in the bottom of the shank that makes the mortise almost oval. Inside the mortise you can also see the tar buildup where the step down end of the tenon sat. It has the reverse of the shape of the step down. Where it had a curved shoulder between the tenon and the step down, the mortise had the reverse. The tars were built up to the point that the tenon step down sat firmly in place. The rest of the tenon was loose in the mortise as years of use had worn away a part of the mortise. The question we were left with once the pipe was cleaned was how to address the wear in the mortise and tighten up the fit of the tenon. The options were two:

  1. Build up the inside diameter of the mortise – this could be done by inserting briar and redrilling it or by using a build-up of glue and briar dust.
  2. Build up the outer diameter of the tenon – there are several ways of doing this including the use of clear nail polish or superglue applied to the tenon and then sanded to fit correctly.

Each method had a few issues involved in using them.

–          To build up the mortise with an inserted piece of briar would be difficult in that the mortise was no longer round and once the mortise was redrilled the walls of the briar plug would be very thin. Also the stem itself was cut to fit the out of round shape of the shank and mortise so it would have to be reshaped.

–          To build it up with glue and briar dust would work but be a bit hard to control the amounts and if it was built up too much removing it and sanding it would be difficult to control.

–          To build up the tenon with nail polish is a temporary fix and would need to be repeated over time and use. To use the superglue is more permanent but are there any long term effects from the use of the glue on the inside of the pipe. Even if, as in this case the tenon is not in contact with the mouth. The glue would only be used on the upper portion of the tenon and not on the step down portion.

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Chuck and I discussed these options and issues and he left it to my judgment to choose one. I thought about it and laid aside the pipe for the night and came back to it in the morning. I examined the tenon and mortise once again to get another view of the problem before I worked on it. I inserted a pipe cleaner at the angle of a drill bit from the shank through the airway to the bottom of the bowl to see where the edge would land. The drilling of the shank matched the notch in the bottom of the mortise. It had been enlarged due to the age of the pipe and its use but it matched exactly. This influenced my decision where to go with the repair. Once that was decided it was time to work on the finish of the pipe and the internals. I dropped the bowl in the alcohol bath to let it soak and remove the grit, grime and old finish. I was hoping that the soak would also loosen the glue on the band so that I could turn it into the correct position on the shank. It soaked for about an hour and a half while I did other things. I removed it from the bath and laid it on my work table. The pictures below show it before I dried it off.

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I steamed the dents on the top and also sanded out the remnants of them on the surface. I wiped down the bowl with acetone to remove any remaining finish on the bowl. I picked the thick tars in the sump of the shank and tapped out the crud that came loose. It took a lot of detailed picking to get the surface free of the build up. I then cleaned out the sump of the shank with many cotton swabs until they were clean. The picture below shows the pipe after the cleaning and wiping down with acetone. The second picture shows the rim with the dents removed and the roundness of the bowl restored.

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After thinking through the options on the shank and the mortise situation I decided that the best way of dealing with this old war horse was not to build up the mortise and cause problems with the fit of the stem and shank but to work on the tenon on the stem. I had read elsewhere of the use of super glue to build up the tenon so I gave it a coating. The best way I have found it to work for me is to drip it on the tenon and turn it as it drips. The fluid thus gives the entire tenon an even coating. The first two pictures below show the tenon after the application of the layer. Once it was dry the tenon was obviously too big so I sanded it, while repeatedly checking for the fit. The third picture shows the tenon as it is now – a perfect snug fitting stem on the Barling this morning!

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To highlight the beautiful grain in the pipe I used a brush dipped in black stain to follow the grain patterns on the bowl. I applied it with an art brush to give it a good coverage. Before applying the stain to the bowl I warmed the briar to open the pores in the wood to receive the stain deeply. The pictures below show the bowl after staining with the brush. It looks odd and actually less than charming but the process works as will be seen in the next series of photos.

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After stain dried I sanded it with a fine grit sanding foam that allows me to follow the curves. I was careful around the faint stamping on the shank. Here is the pipe after it has been wiped cleaned with Isopropyl alcohol after sanding. The grain is highlighted well. The final picture below shows the grain on the front of the bowl.

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I set aside the bowl for awhile and dealt with the tooth marks on the stem. After steaming them to raise them I sanded with 240 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining signs of the tooth marks and the tooth chatter. I then sanded with fine grit foam sanding pads to work out some of the scratches in the surface.

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I did some more sanding with the micromesh sanding pads on the pipe bowl to get the black stain tamed a bit so that when I put the overstain on it would show through but not dominate. I wanted to get a stain on the pipe that fits the older Barling pipes that I have here so I thinned down some oxblood stain for the overstain. I applied it and flamed it. Then I took it to the buffer and with a light touch removed the excess and left a nice top coat of rich reddish brown stain with the black shining through to highlight the amazing grain on this old pipe. The three pictures below show the pipe with the stem on but the stem was not finished as it still showed some of the browning of oxidation.

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From there I removed the stem again and sanded it with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sand paper and water. I finished the stem with 1500-6000 grit micromesh pads dipped in water to give bite to the sanding disks as I polished it. The way I use the micromesh is to dip it in water and then sand, dip again and sand again through the various grits until I am finished and the stem has some depth to its blackness. I coated the stem with several coats of Obsidian Oil and then a coating of wax by hand.

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I put the stem back on the pipe and took it to the buffer. I buffed the whole thing with White Diamond and then cleaned the silver band with silver polish and polished the entire pipe with multiple coats of carnauba wax.

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A Barlings Make Saddle Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I enjoy working on Barlings pipes. They are generally carved from great pieces of briar and clean up nicely. They are light weight pipes with one of the most comfortable bits ever made IMHO. I had picked up this little Barlings Make 1364 Billiard. I have no idea on this one’s age as I have not bothered to look it up yet. It is stamped Barlings in an arch over Make inside the arch and then 1364 below that. The other side is stamped with an L. It has the Barlings thin bit saddle stem bearing the Barlings cross on the top and nothing on the underside.
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This one came with an over reamed bowl leaving the bowl walls thin and the bowl out of round. The left side was considerably thicker than the other sides. We are not talking a huge difference but visually it was off. The thin sides are probably a 1/8 inch thick and the left side was about a 1/4 inch thick. I carefully rounded the bowl with a knife to bring the 1/4 inch side into sync with the remainder of the bowl. The result is a much more balanced look to the bowl. Then I sanded the bowl carefully so as not to affect the finish on the top of the bowl and then buffed and polished the whole pipe. I am happy with the results and with some careful smoking this one should be able to build a good cake and last a long time.

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In terms of the stem I wanted to preserve the Barling cross stamped on the top and the profile. It was not in too bad shape as can be seen from the photos though it was oxidized. The oxidation I worked on by soaking it in Oxyclean to soften it. I find that though it does not remove the oxidation it makes it easier to deal with. I then carefully sanded the stem with micromesh pads. I worked with the 1500 grit pad to sand around the cross and not lose it. I also worked over the surface of the entire stem with the 1500 grit. Then I worked through the rest of the pads from 1500 to 6000 to give the pipe stem a polish. The only thing left to do was to give the pipe a good buff with White Diamond and carnauba wax to finish it up.

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