Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table was purchased on Ebay in 2017 and came to us from Latgale, Latvia. The pipe is smooth, nicely grained Bent Billiard pipe with an oval shank and an acrylic, saddle stem. The pipe is stamped on left side of the shank and reads Garnet Grain. On the right side of the shank it is stamped England. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 9001. The stem has the Barling Cross logo on the top of the saddle. There was a lot of grime and dust ground into the smooth finish. The bowl had been reamed before we bought and to be honest if had been smoked at all it had maybe had a half a bowl run through it. The inside and outside edges of the crowned rim top looked to be in excellent condition other than the grit and grime of the years. The acrylic stem was in excellent condition with minor scratches but no tooth marks. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took a photo of the rim top, bowl and stem to give a clear picture of the condition of the pipe. The condition of the rim top and edges is very visible. The photos of the stem show that other than the light scratches in the acrylic it was in excellent condition. He took a photo of the heel of the bowl to give a clear picture of the condition of the pipe and the grain that was shining through. He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. He removed the stem from the shank and revealed several issues. The first is that the stem and tenon is drilled for a filter. The second issues is that there is a large piece of acrylic missing on the top side of the tenon. I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-barling.html) to see if I could find a listing that had the same or similar stamping on the pipe. The stamping is similar to the one I am working on other than the shape number. The pipe that I am working on has the shape number 9001 on the underside shank. Garnet Grain and on the right side England. I am pretty sure that the one I have is significantly newer and does not have the Barling stamp on the shank and merely reads England. It does have the Barling cross on the stem top.Pipedia gives a great history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barling) that is well worth reading. I am pretty sure that it is newer but I have no way of proving that for certain but that is my guess. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.
This one has a back story that is a bit embarrassing. This morning on Facetime, Jeff and I sorted through some bowls that we had in Idaho and here in Vancouver. Between us we had around 50-70 stemless bowls. The majority of them were here in Vancouver. My box had 50+ bowls that I have accumulated over the years. Going through them with Jeff, I was not sure why I had kept most of them. They really were worthless and in varying degrees of disrepair. Some of them had broken shanks and others had cracked bowls and shanks. We pitched the majority of them (which is very hard for us to do if you have known us for very long!). Here is where the story gets dicey for us! We had pitched this bowl into the garbage. It had a large shank and was without a stem. Later in the morning I was going through my assortment of stems trying to find stems for the bowls that we had kept. In the bottom of one of the bags I came across an oval Barling stem that was made for a filter and had a chip out of the tenon. I wrote Jeff and asked if he had any photos of a Barling Garnet Grain with a stem. He immediately sent me the above photos that linked the stem I had found with the bowl. I took the bowl out of the trash and tried the stem on it. They fit together perfectly. I was a bit embarrassed and was totally unclear how the parts had been separated. With that background I decided to work on it.
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 soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The stamping on the right and left topside of the shank is clear and readable and reads as noted above. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I started by rebuilding the chipped and damaged tenon. I greased a pencil with Vaseline and inserted it in the tenon. I mixed a batch of charcoal powder and black super glue to great a paste. I applied the paste to the chipped tenon using a dental spatula to fill in the damaged area. I sprayed the repair with an accelerator and once it was cured I used a rasp to remove the excess repair. I reshaped the tenon on the outside with a Dremel and sanding drum and on the inside with a small round needle file. I also created an adapter to convert the stem from a filter stem to a regular stem. It was removable so that it could still be smoked with a filter.Once the reshaping was complete on the tenon I inserted the adapter in place and smooth out the tenon repair to make the tenon round once more. The acrylic stem was in great condition so I did not need to polish it with micromesh pads. I did a quick buff on the Blue Diamond wheel and the shine came alive. I touched up the Barling Cross logo on the stem with Liquid Paper and worked it into the stamping. I buffed it off with a cotton pad. The product brought the stamping that remained to clear readability. This beautifully grained Barling’s Garnet Grain 9001 Bent Oval Shank Bent Billiard is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar is clean and really came alive. The rich reddish brown coloured stain gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the acrylic 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 and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Barling’s Bent Oval Shank Bent Billiard is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 53grams/1.90oz.Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!