Tag Archives: Barlings Pipes

Rebirthing a Barling Manx Made Meerschaum Bent Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

I wanted to work on something a little different before getting back to more briar. I chose a Barling Meerschaum pipe that I have had in the “to do” box for a while now. My brother picked this one up in an online auction or sale somewhere along the way in his hunting. It is an interesting pipe. There is no stamping on the pipe or the “gold” band but the stem has the Barling cross logo on top of the saddle. It is also stamped England on the underside of the stem. Many of the pipe companies in Great Britain seemed to have meerschaum pipes somewhere in their history. I have seen GBD and Peterson’s and Barlings. I believe they are all made on the Isle of Man by the Laxey Pipe Factory which closed in 2002. This bent apple with the Barling cross is in decent condition. It has a flume finish – darkened at the top of the rim and partway down the bowl sides. This one is a brownish/red in colour on the rest of the bowl. The band on the shank is Gold in colour. The bowl is very clean – in fact I wonder if it has been smoked more than a few times. There is a Delrin insert in the shank for strengthening of the meer. The stem is in decent condition with oxidation on the top surfaces of the saddle and stem and on the underside of the stem.  Jeff took photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up. The bowl was pretty clean, though the top portion had some cake and there was light lava on the surface of the rim top. Jeff took some photos that give a clear picture. The first is a close up that shows the lava on the rim. The second gives a feel for the colour of the rim and the flumed edge of the bowl. He also took a photo of the underside and side of the bowl. The finish on the meer is in excellent condition. The stem was oxidized on both the top and underside but otherwise clean. There was no tooth chatter or bite marks in the rubber.The stamping on the top and underside of the saddle stem were very clear and readable. The Barling cross was clear and there was a remnant of white in the stamp. The England on the underside also was very clear. The gold band was dirty and showed grime.Jeff follows his cleaning regime to a letter each time he works on the pipes. This pipe was no exception. He cleaned out the internals of the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He cleaned the top of the rim and the bowl with a tooth brush and mild soap. The stem was in decent condition so he put it in a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer and let it soak for an hour or so and it did the work on removing the oxidation. The band looked pretty good when he polished it. It looked like some of the dust had rubbed off of the band on the top side of the saddle stem as it had a gold dusting to the surface of the rubber that I first took to be oxidation. I took some photos of the pipe when it arrived to show the condition.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show how good the condition was on this pipe. It is really quite amazing. The rim top and bowl looked really good. There was some scratching and marks on the rim that should be able to be buffed out. The stem was in great condition. The dusting on the top of the saddle looks like oxidation but it was not and came off really easily.I took a photo of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. It was very sharp and readable. The photos also show the gold dusting on the top side and in the Barling cross. The England stamp on the underside was perfect.The bowl was in such good condition I did not need to do any work on it. Jeff had done all that needed to be done on the bowl. I decided to polish the rim top and see if I could remove some of the scratches and light build up there. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. The pictures tell the story and show the increasing shine of the briar after each set of pads. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. My hope was that it would remove the gold dust on the top of the saddle. I rubbed it onto the stem with my finger and buffed it off with a cotton pad. The polish removed the gold tint and left the stem shiny. I would need to polish it a bit with the micromesh sanding pads and touch up the stamping but it looked very good.I polished the rest of the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil. When the oil dried I touched up the stamping on the saddle with a white correction pen. I cleaned off the excess white correction pen with a 2400 grit micromesh sanding pad. I continued to polish the stem with 3200-1200 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I once again polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. When I finished I gave it another wipe down with Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I polished the bowl by hand and gave it several coats of Conservator’s wax to protect it. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the vulcanite and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The flume finish with the dark rim top and edges of the bowl and the reddish brown colour of the meerschaum works well with the gold band and the polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I will be putting this one on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection.Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.


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.

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.

Barling’s Guinea Grain Restoration

A member on the Pipe Smokers Forum recently acquired this Barling’s “Guinea Grain” pipe and I jumped at the opportunity to restore it for him. I don’t currently own a Barling’s pipe, but recent posts by brand authority, Jesse Silver, had piqued my interest. In conversation with Jesse about the pipe, he shared that “Guinea Grains are a higher grade designation and distinctive for several reasons. They’re the only Family Era pipes with a cursive “Barling’s” logo and they’re the only pipes that Barling also used oil in the curing process to bring out the contrast of the grain.” I enjoyed learning more about this fabled British pipe maker as much as working on it. I need to thank Jesse for his input and information. It is really wonderful to have such a brand authority available for comment. Since the pipe is stamped “Barling’s” in the possessive, Jesse dates the pipe to the 1940’s as a pre-Transition piece. The pipe is stamped EXEXEL, a size grade started in 1940. It also has a very faint “Reg” stamp and the letter “E”. Jesse tells me this is most likely the remnant of EB WB (Edward and William Barling), whose initials form the Barling sterling makers stamp and were used as part of the company nomenclature. Their initials were used on 1940’s era Guinea Grain pipes.

The pipe as I received it.


Barlings_Guinea_Before (7)

Barlings_Guinea_Before (1)

Barlings_Guinea_Before (5)

When the pipe arrived, it had heavy tar build-up on the bowl top and many dings and cuts in the briar. The stem was in relatively good condition with only surface teeth abrasions and no dents. Curiously, there was what appeared to be a pinhole near where the Barling’s Cross stem logo would be placed. There was no remnant left of the logo, even under magnification. At first, I thought the stem might be a replacement, but the button ends appears to have the distinctive ovalized and funneled button.

The bowl had a heavy caked which was reamed and then soaked with alcohol and sea salt. While the bowl was reamed a little out of round, the interior of the bowl was in relatively good condition. The bowl top had a number of scars and dings. I have been using Mike Gluklers method of soaking the tar covered bowl tops in just a millimeter or two of distilled water to soften the build-up. I removed it with a cotton cloth using the distilled water. There is some rim darkening, but I didn’t want to sand the rim and restain and think the patina fits the pipe

Barlings_Guinea_Progess (4)

Using a dinner knife heated by a propane torch and a wet cloth, I went to work on the numerous dents and cuts. Some lifted out completely, others were minimized. I wasn’t able to do much about the chatter around the bowl rim. I suspect the previous owner knocked ash out of the bowl. Staying away from the valuable nomenclature, the bowl and rim was buffed with white diamond and several coats of carnuba wax. I gave the nomenclature area a hand-wax with Halycon pipe wax.

I put a drop of black superglue on the hole in the briar. After it was dry, I sanded off the worst of the oxidation with some 800 grit wet paper. I then moved to 1500 and 2000 grades wet paper and finally 8000 and 12000 grades of micromesh. I used a slim knife blade to hold the paper into the button crease to remove that oxidation. Then the stem was buffed lightly with white diamond and finally a plastic polish. The Barling’s stem has a unique feel to it, unlike my similar era Comoys or Charatan stems. The button air hole shapiong shows a lot of care was shown making the stem. (and also makes me think it is an original Barling’s stem).

And finally, the finished pipe.