Tag Archives: BBB pipes

New Life for a BBB Tortoise 403S Straight Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

It was time to work on one of the pipes that was purchased off EBay back in 06/05/2016 from a seller in Frederiksberg, Denmark. This one is a straight Bulldog with a diamond shank and a saddle stem. The rim topped is worn and dirty and had darkening and burn damage on the front rim top and bowl. It also has some darkening on the lower part of the bowl on both sides. It is stamped on the left side of the shank BBB in a diamond [over] Tortoise followed by RJ. On the right side it is stamped London, England and the shape number 403S. The stem has a BBB Diamond medallion on the topside of the saddle. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. From the photos there seemed to be some damage to the inner edge at the front of the bowl but I could not be sure. The shank was quite dirty so the tenon did not seat in the shank. The stem was pearlized white. There was light tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button. Jeff took the following photos before he started his cleanup.  He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava. The cake is thick and hard and the lava overflow is a thick band around the bowl. The bowl is a real mess. This must have been a great smoking pipe. There were not photos of the stem surface to include as we did not take photos of that at this point in time.Jeff took photos of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. The brand and the shape number are very readable. He also took a photo of the BBB Diamond Medallion on the stem top.I turned to Pipephil (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-bbb.html) to see what I could learn about the BBB Tortoise Model. The pipes that came with a pearlized stem that almost looked like it was made of abalone. It was acrylic of some sort but has the softness of vulcanite. It is remarkable material. I have included a screen capture of the section on the Tortoise.I turned to address the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. He scrubbed the stem Soft Scrub to clean off the grime and grit. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration.  I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean up the incredibly thick cake and lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl photos above. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar. There was some burn damage on the rim top and the inner and outer edge toward the front of the bowl. There was also some darkening on the rest of the rim top. The stem was much cleaner than before. There was some staining just ahead of the button.I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and stem. They are a bit faint but are readable as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to show the parts and the size of the stem compared to the shank and bowl. It is a well made pipe.I decided to address the bowl first. I worked on both the rim damage and try to minimize the burn damage on the front top and on the inner and outer edges. I worked on the inner edge of the rim first using a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper smooth out the damage and give a light bevel to the inner edge. I next tried to lightly top the bowl with a medium sanding sponge to see if I could minimize it further. While it was better I was not happy with it at this point. The rim top has a slight dip where the burn had been and the top was not flat. I decided to do a more radical topping on the topping board with 180 grit sandpaper. I took off a minimal amount just to flatten the rim top. I would need to clean up the inner edge again but I liked the look the pipe was beginning to have.I polished the briar, including the inner edge of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the briar. After it sat for a little while I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl and even the burn damage it not too intrusive – it is present but not too distracting as it is now just darkening. With the exterior cleaned and polished I looked down the shank with a light and saw that the shank was still quite oily looking. I cleaned it and the airway into the bowl with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. I cleaned out the airway in the stem and removed the dark tars and material that was on the internal of the slot and V into the airway. It took time and some extra work but I was able to clean both well.  I set the bowl aside and worked on the externals of the stem at this point in the process. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to enliven and protect the stem material. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the pearlized stem even after the micromesh regimen. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.  I put the stem back on the pipe and took the pipe to the buffer. I worked it over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and 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 really well and even the newly beveled rim top looked good. I was happy with the results of the reworking of the rim. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The unique BBB 403S Straight Bulldog Tortoise shape and look of the pipe is a beauty which epitomizes the BBB Tortoise pipes that I have restored. It is a very stunning looking pipe with the mixed grain and the pearlized stem. The polished stem looks really good with the browns of the briar. The dimensions of the pipe 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 1.06 ounces/30 grams. This is another pipe that I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store in the British Pipe Makers Section shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!

Another Of My Inherited BBB Restored…And What A Mess It Was


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that had moved up the queue of pipes for restoration is also a BBB, but from a newer era as compared to the c.1916 pipe that I had just restored. The aim of selecting this pipe was to show the general condition of the pipes that I had inherited. All or most of them were very well loved and thus extensively smoked without any signs of ever having being cleaned and maintained. The philosophy was simple, select one favorite pipe, smoke the pipe till it fouls up then chuck it, buy a new pipe and repeat the process… It was an era when Barling family still owned the brand and Loewe pipes were still made in the Haymarket area! Ah….. That bygone era of beautiful and superb quality English pipes.

This is a beautiful well grained bent billiards with a nice hand feel, is perfectly proportioned and the quality just oozes out of every inch of the pipe. The sterling silver ferrule at the shank end bears the stamp of “BBB” enclosed in trademark rhombus over “STERLING” over “SILVER”. The stamping on the right side is greatly faded and only “MAKE” is visible under magnification and bright lights. The left side of the shank bears the slightly worn out shape code “304”. The high quality vulcanite stem has the trademark metal rhombus stamped “BBB”. I have worked on quite a few BBB pipes in the past and read a ton of material from various sources on BBB and to save time of our esteemed readers, I shall not reproduce the article but have provided a link for the most reliable and concise information on pipedia.org, https://pipedia.org/wiki/BBB

What were of interest to me, however, were the BBB catalogs that Doug Valitchka has contributed on pipedia.org. I reproduce a picture of the Sterling Silver line of pipes from BBB that gives out a brief introduction to the line and also the cost of the Sterling Silver line of pipes prevalent at that time. This and the subsequent link that I shall be providing, is a strongly recommended read for all those interested in old flyers and promotional endeavors from BBB.Pipedia.org also has a link to a PDF copy of 1960 brochure which is a very strong recommendation either for referencing or as a general read (https://pipedia.org/images/e/e8/BBB_1960.pdf). The pipe currently on my table has a shape number 304 which has been described in the brochure as a Bent Billiard.

Thus from the above, this pipe must have been with my grandfather from somewhere since late 1950s or very early 1960s making it 60 year old, give or take a few.

Initial Visual Inspection
The chamber has a thick layer of cake, so thick that I am unable to see the heel of the chamber. There is a heavy overflow of lava over the rim surface. The stummel appears dull and lackluster from all the heavy use and overflowing oils and tars which has attracted a ton of dust and grime from years of storage. However beneath all the dirt and grime some beautiful bird’s eye and cross grain over the stummel awaits revelation. There are a few dents, dings and chipped surface in the stummel. The sterling Silver band has turned black due to oxidation. The vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized with deep tooth chatter/ bite marks and calcification in the bite zone. The airway is clogged with dried oils and crud. Shown below is the pipe as it presents itself on my worktable. Dimensions Of The Pipe
(a) Overall length of the pipe:          5.2 inches.

(b) Bowl height:                                  1.7 inches.

(c) Inner diameter of chamber:        0.8 inches.

(d) Outer diameter of chamber:      1.2 inches.

Detailed Inspection
Apparently this chamber has never ever seen a pipe reamer nor has ever experienced the luxury of having a cake of the thickness of a dime. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber which restricts reaching to the bottom of the chamber. The cake is very hard and dry and it was with some difficulty that I could pry out a couple of chips of cake from the rim surface with my knife. This is going to be one bugger to clean, I say. The thick lava overflow over the rim top surface obscures the condition of the rim surface and will be ascertained only after the crud is removed. Ditto as regards the condition of the chamber wall. I shall deliberate in detail on these issues once the cake has been rid of. The ghost smells are very strong, in fact so strong that the entire room reeked of the smell of rancid tobacco. The stummel is covered in overflowing carbon, oils and ash. Add to this grime, the many years of dust and dirt due to uncared for storage ground into the surface and you have a filthy, dull and dirty looking briar. There are some tightly packed Bird’s eye grains peeking from either sides of the stummel while beautiful cross grains adorn the fore and aft of the bowl. There are a few scratches, dents and dings over the stummel surface (enclosed in pastel blue), nothing severe that would need to be filled. However, to the front of the bowl just below and along the outer edge of the rim, there are a couple of spots that are missing briar (green circle). I may have to rebuild it using briar dust and superglue. The mortise is chock-a-block with old oils, tars and gunk to the extent that I couldn’t see the light in the chamber. The Sterling Silver ferrule is deeply oxidized but without any damage. Cleaning this pipe will be a long haul. The vulcanite stem is deeply oxidized but thankfully without any major damage. There are few tooth indentations and tooth chatter on either surfaces of the stem along with calcification in the bite zone. The button edges on either side have been chewed and would benefit from a rebuild/ reshaping. The step tenon opening is completely clogged and remnants of oils and tars and gunk can be easily observed on the sides and on the inside of the opening. The horizontal slot face is brutally oxidized and filled with gunk. The smells emanating from the stem are quite strong and repulsive. The brass logo is crisp and intact and would benefit from a nice polish.The Process…
Since there were other stems that were ready to be put into the stem deoxidizer solution, I decided to clean the internals of this stem first so that it could be put in the solution with other stems. I cleaned the stem airway with a thin shank brush and anti oil soap. The amount of gunk that was cleaned can be judged from the pictures below. It took considerable time and elbow grease to get the stem airway clean. In spite of my best efforts, I could not get the brush to completely pass through the stem. Closer inspection of the slot end confirmed my worst fears and I could see that the slot was blocked with the crud from the stem airway. I used a sharp dental tool to pry out the block and further cleaned the internals with regular and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol.This internal cleaning was followed by sanding the stem external surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to loosen up and remove superficial oxidation. It has been our experience that such sanding yields the best end results after the deoxidizer solution has completed its assigned task. Before dunking the stem in the deoxidizer solution, it was cleaned up with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton swab.The stem was immersed in the Before and After Deoxidizer solution, a product that has been developed by Mark Hoover. This solution raises the oxidation to the stem surface and helps in easy removal and imparting a nice shine to the stem after polishing. The pipe is indicated with an orange arrow indicator. The stem is allowed to soak into this solution overnight.The next morning, Abha took the stem out from the solution. She cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Scotch Brite pad and cleaned the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem. She ran a couple of pipe cleaners through the stem airway to clean the airway of the deoxidizer solution and water. There is a need to further sand the stem to completely remove the oxidation.Continuing with the stem repairs, to address the deeper tooth indentations/ bite marks, I warmed up the bite zone with the flame of a lighter. The heat helps to expand the vulcanite and retain its original shape. This method may not always completely raise the depressions to the surface, but most of the times, to a great extent. In this case the tooth indentations were raised to a great extent, but the damage to the button edge would require a rebuild. I followed up the heating of the stem surface with sanding the bite zone with a worn out piece of 180 grit sandpaper to even out the surface. Next I rebuilt the button edge with a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. I applied it over the buttons on either sides of the stem and set it aside for the mix to cure.Now it was time for me to work on the stummel. I did this by first reaming the chamber with size 1 followed by size 2 PipNet reamer head. I further scraped the chamber walls with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposits where the reamer head could not reach. I scraped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The huge pile of carbon dust that was reamed out is an indication enough to the amount of carbon that had accumulated in the chamber.With the chamber and rim top surface free of all the cake and overflowing oils and tars, I took a closer look at the chamber and rim top surface. The rim top has a number of dents and is undulated, probably a result of striking against a hard surface to remove dottle. Also a result of these strikes is that the outer rim edge is chipped and damaged on the left side between 9 and 12 o’clock direction (encircled in pastel blue). The inner rim appears to have had a bevel and there seem to be signs of charring on the right side (encircled in yellow). There are webbings of thin superficial heat lines along the wall of the chamber (indicated by green arrows); however these are to be expected in a pipe that has been so heavily smoked. These heat lines are very minor and superficial and do not detract from the smoke worthiness of this pipe for the next 60 years.During the handling of the stummel, the Sterling silver band came off allowing me to check for damage underneath the band. Thankfully other than being filthy, there was none. I cleaned the mortise with hard bristled pipe cleaners and alcohol. Using a fabricated tool, I scraped the dried accumulated gunk from the mortise to the extent possible. The mortise would be further cleaned during the stummel cleaning. With the internal cleaning done, it was time for the external cleaning of the stummel surface. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap, to scrub the stummel and rim top. The hardened and stubborn cake was dislodged from the rim surface and shank end using Scotch Brite pad and with a brass wired brush. I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. It is pertinent to mention here that even after all this cleaning of the chamber and shank internals, the ghost smells are still very invasive. This would require adoption of more invasive methods to get rid of these old smells.Since the stummel and stem were drying and curing respectively, I completed one of the mundane but equally important tasks of polishing the Sterling silver band. I used a local product that is available in India only to polish the band. The liquid polish was applied to the band and wiped it out after a few seconds. The polish completely removed the oxidation and gave a nice shine to the band.To address the rim top damage, I topped the rim top on 220 grit sandpaper till the surface was nice and even. I hate losing any briar and restrict it to the barest minimum that is required. The damage to the outer rim edge, though greatly eliminated, can still be seen to the front side (encircled in green). This would need to be reconstructed subsequently. The charring to the inner rim edge is still visible (encircled in orange). These issues could be completely addressed by the process of topping but the extent of topping that would be required to do so would alter the bowl height and also the entire pipe profile. I decided subject the stummel to an alcohol bath to address the strong smells from the stummel before moving ahead with repairs to the inner and outer rim edges. I used cotton balls which is an at par substitute to Kosher salt as I have realized over the years. I drew out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; inserted it into the mortise and through the draught hole into the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge and soaked the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next morning, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk and further cleaned it with alcohol and q-tips. The chamber now smells clean and fresh. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. While the stummel was soaking in the alcohol bath, I had a look at the stem repairs and found the repairs completely cured. With a flat head needle file, I sanded these fills to achieve a rough match with the stem surface. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the repairs with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500 and finally with a piece of 2000 grit sand paper. This serves to reduce the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. Returning back to the stummel repairs, with a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I carefully gave a rough bevel to the inner rim edge and addressed the issue of charred inner rim edge. I filled up the chipped areas on the outer rim edge with a mix of superglue and briar dust and set the stummel aside for the fills to cure and harden.Once the mix had hardened, with a flat head needle file I sanded the fills to achieve a rough match with the rest of the rim edge. I further blended in the fills with a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. I also sharpened the rough bevel to the inner edge that I had cut earlier. The rim top surface and the edges look much better at this stage of restoration. I further sanded the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the minor scratches and dings that would otherwise show after micromesh polishing cycle. I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep into the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush and gave a vigorous buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The beauty of this piece of briar is marred ever so slightly by a small pit on the left side of the bowl at the shank and bowl junction. Other than this, the briar only has only bird’s eyes and cross grains to boast. No wonder then that it was sold as a mid level line, below VIRGIN and above THORNEYCROFT.

To put the finishing touches, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. Next, I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mounted a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with the aged patina to the briar looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me.

Repairing and Restoring a 2 Star BBB 504 Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

I received an email on the blog from Tim in Eastern Canada about a pipe he had that he was working on. He wanted some advice regarding how to proceed with the restoration. He had dropped it on his floor and a chip of briar had come out and disappeared. He was uncertain how to proceed next. Here is his first email:

I have an estate BBB 504 Canadian nearly identical to the one currently in your store. It unfortunately has a chipped shank directly where the stem meets it. I was attempting to restore it to a smokeable condition when it slipped out of my hands onto the linoleum. I was so disappointed. I don’t know what to do with it now. Next to a Brigham two dot 214, it’s the best estate pipe I’ve found. Any advice or help would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Tim

I wrote him back and asked him for some photos of the damage so that I could assess how to address the issues on it. Here is my email to Tim.

Hi Tim                                                                                                                                                        Send me a photo please and let me have a look at it.                                                                  Steve

He sent some to me to show me that damages and give me a sense of what had happened. He mentioned that his photos were not the best and did not show the grain very well. Here are the photos that Tim sent to me. Have a look at the damages. After looking it over and reflecting on all the issues, I gave him some options on how to address the issues. The shank was chipped on the top and the underside. The underside was far work with a large chunk of briar missing and a cracking extending up the shank about ½ inch. I suggested that he rebuild the chipped areas with briar dust and super glue. He then could add a band to strengthen the repair and protect it from further cracking. I wrote him back with those options and he responded with the following email.

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the tips. I haven’t got the chipped piece of briar, unfortunately. I was never able to locate it. Also much of this work is beyond my woodworking skill. Maybe some enterprising restorer on a forum wants a challenge and I can trade hum for some leaf. Who knows?   Thanks,

Tim

I responded to Tim and told him to send it my way and I would do the repair for him. This week I received it and today I was able to start working on it. It is indeed a BBB Canadian that is stamped on the top of the shank and reads BBB in a diamond logo [over] **. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Made In England [over] 504. Tim had started his reaming on the pipe but had not progressed to the exterior of the bowl or rim. There was still a lava coat on the rim top and the bowl was slightly out of round. The pipe smelled clean but I would need to clean it further before and after I did the repairs. The chip on the underside of the shank was quite large and included a crack that ran ½ up the shank. The chip on the top side was smaller and more of a dent. The stem was slightly oxidized and there were light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the rim top to show the lava coat on the top and the slightly out of round bowl. The cake had been taken back by Tim. It looked good internally. I took photos of the stem and shank surface that show the chips and damage to the shank end. You can also see tooth chatter and marks on the stem surface ahead of the button.I took photos of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. It was faint but readable as noted above.I lightly flattened the face of the shank with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I did not remove much briar just a little bit to flatten it out.With that done I cleaned out the shank area with cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol to remove the oils so that the repair would stick. I layered in clear super glue and briar dust with a dental spatula to build up the large chunk of briar that was missing on the underside of the shank. I used a small pen knife with a sharp blade to scrape out the inside of the shank. I would need to used a round file to open up the airway to receive the tenon once again but the repair was solid. I smoothed out the repair on the underside of the shank with 220 grit sandpaper to bring it to the same level as the rest of the shank. I also cleaned up the shank end with the sandpaper at the same time. It was solid and it certainly looked better.I flattened the bottom and top of the shank with files to prepare it for banding.I checked the Sterling Silver band for the fit and once I was happy with the fit I heated it with a lighter flame and pressed it onto the shank. With the band fitted in place I used small needle files to smooth out the inside of the shank. I worked with the files to bring it back into round.I took photos of the bowl an shank with the band fitted in place. It looked very good at this point. The shank looked good both internally and externally. With the band and shank repair finished I turned my attention to the rim top lava build up. I scraped it off with a sharp blade to remove the heavy build up. I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board and then worked over the inside of the rim edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I also worked on the outer edge of the bowl to smooth out the damage. I polished the briar bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I paused the polishing and stained the rim top with an Oak Stain Pen to match the rest of the briar. It blended in really well.I went back to polishing the briar with the last three grits of micromesh – 4000, 6000 and 12000 grit pads. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar 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 photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I stopped and cleaned out the dust and debris from my repair that was in the shank. I used alcohol and pipe cleaners to clean out the debris and a folded pipe cleaner to swab out the bowl.I polished out the light tooth marks on the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I am excited to finish this repair on a BBB 2 Star 504 Canadian. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I also hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping all around it. Added to that the polished  black vulcanite saddle stem was beautiful. This shapely Classic English Made BBB 2 Start Canadian is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. 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 1/8 inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 29 grams/1.02 ounces. It is a beautiful pipe and one that I soon send back to Tim in Eastern Canada. I am hoping he enjoys the new look of his pipe. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Rebirth of a Special 1912 BBB Own Make Glokar Collegiate Class Zulu


When I saw Bri’s post on this old BBB Glokar on Facebook I wrote and asked her to do a blog on the restoration. She agreed. I am excited to have this blog here both for the pipe itself but also for the unique techniques that Bri uses in here restorations. Thanks Bri and welcome to rebornpipes.

Blog by Bri Hill

My name is Bri Hill, a new member of the pipe restoration community. I have a newly opened store on Ebay called Vintage Overhauled. My experience restoring tobacco pipes has been short so far, only a couple months experience under my belt. In that short amount of time it has been an awesome whirlwind learning so many new and different things.  I recently had the privilege of acquiring and restoring a 1912 BBB Own Make Glokar Collegiate Class Pipe. It was specifically made for the University of Michigan class of 1913. I found it on Facebook through an antique store in my home state of Michigan. This was a true gem to me for many reasons. Two of which, it is extremely rare and I am a tried and true Maize and Blue fan.Before I go into further detail I wanted to mention, full disclosure, I was not prepared for this amazing opportunity of writing about my experience with this beautiful piece. The opportunity to write this blog article was presented after the pipe was finished being restored. Therefore, I did not take as many pictures during the restoration process as I would have liked for this restoration project.

The process I follow has taken some time to iron out and is continually evolving, but for this piece it was very simple.

The first step was a two part process. One part was to put the stem in an Oxyclean soak. This helps speed the process of removing oxidation. The second step I follow is rubbing down the stummel with vinegar diluted in water.  I rubbed it down with 0000 steel wool. The fine grade of the steel wool prevents most scratching during the cleaning process. After only about five minutes with the steel wool the entire outside of the stummel is clean like new, even the char on the rim is completely gone. The metal lettering and band cleaned up immediately. From there, I then ran a fine grade pipe cleaner through the shank a few times continually dipping the pipe cleaner in the vinegar water solution during this.

The next step  involves adding in reaming techniques. I chose to pursue a less aggressive approach when first reaming this pipe in order to be as careful as possible with it.  I use a dropper to suck up the vinegar and water solution. I pour the solution from the dropper into the chamber while using my finger to plug the hole at the shank end. I let it sit for 30 seconds then release my finger off the shank to pour out the solution. This gets the cake in the chamber moistened up to prepare for reaming. I repeat this step throughout the reaming process. This makes it much easier than reaming the chamber when dry. For reaming the chamber this is a two part method. First, I take a piece of silverware with the smallest handle I can find. One with a round end at the handle. I gently scrape away at the cake trying to remove just a small initial layer at a time. I then repeat the solution with the dropper process for 30 seconds. Ream again. Repeat. I do this until the chamber is reamed to my satisfaction. I then move to the second and final part of reaming. Using a traditional reaming tool, I give it a couple spins to even out the chamber.

After reaming is complete, some sanding is done in order to even out the leftover cake in the chamber. I decided for this pipe I wanted to use a less aggressive method of sanding than my prior technique of just wrapping sandpaper around a toothbrush end. Instead I used some 320 grit sandpaper followed by 600 then 800 and 1200. I do this to ensure the chamber ends up looking even and smooth. (However on a side note, when I was completely done restoring the stummel I noticed there were uneven layers of cake toward the top of the chamber near the rim. After much debate with myself over it. I decided to forgo going back and sanding again.) I wrap the strip of paper around the end of my finger to create a curved surface in order to address the bottom of the chamber. Once sanding is complete I plug the shank hole and put coffee grounds and alcohol in the chamber. I let this sit overnight. Once I drain and clean out the coffee grounds . I run a bit of hot water through the chamber using the dropper to clean out any leftover grounds. Afterwards, I took a tool that came with my Fiebings dyes. I dip the  tool in EA Carey sweetener  and disinfectant.

I then insert the tool into the chamber and lightly twist and scrub around the chamber. I let the excess drip out through the shank, while being careful not to get the solution on the outside of the stummel. The solution sweetens and disinfects the chamber and shank.  The solution leaves the chamber smelling minty and fresh.

After, it is time to turn my attention to the rim of the bowl. There are two very small nicks in the rim.

I wasn’t sure at first if I needed to fill the nicks with CA glue and briar dust or if I could lightly sand and get results that way instead. I chose the sanding route because I wanted to preserve the originality of the pipe as much as possible. When choosing this approach I always start with the highest grade sanding paper possible and work my way down until I find the right grade for the situation. If you choose a grade too low it can alter the rim in multiple ways; such as taking off the stain and creating uneven spots on the rim. I started with the 2500 grade and worked my way down to 1200. I sanded each nick lightly, only for a few passovers. I would then switch to the Black Emery compound with a rotary tool cloth polishing bit. This might be unconventional to some, because many rave over Brown Tripoli and White Diamond. There have been some situations where I have used White Diamond and it produces positive results. In regards to Brown Tripoli. No matter what I have tried, I cannot produce the results that many speak about. For me, it just produces a dull and foggy look. In my experience the Black Emery produces a shinier luster than the Brown Tripoli. I repeat the process 3 times of sanding very lightly with 1200 and then using the Black Emery after. I focused my attention to the rim structure during this in order to make sure I was not creating an uneven spot by sanding too much. This is the end result, although the initial picture doesn’t really show the full extent of the nicks.Once the nicks were handled I moved on to buffing the stummel. For the first step of this process I used the Black Emery with a white cloth rotary buffing bit.

I then one over the stummel with 5000 sandpaper. After that, I apply the Green compound using a string buffer and then follow that with 10000 sandpaper. I do another round of Green and follow up for a final time with 15000 sandpaper. I have found that alternating between both sanding methods not only produces a great shine, but the high grit sandpaper polishes out the micro scratches the buffing compound process leaves behind. I avoid the rim edges with the sandpaper when doing this because it can produce uneven coloring on the rim and edge areas. I also avoid the metal lettering and band when using the sandpaper. I noticed it creates micro scratches. I stick to just the compound for the metal parts.

For the final step I apply two rounds of Carnauba wax with a string buffer again. I let the wax sit for 15 minutes each time.

Once the stummel process is complete I move on to the stem that has been soaking in Oxyclean. I use 0000 steel wool and a magic eraser. After about 7 minutes of alternating between both, the stem is all clean. I had to pay a little extra attention to the lip of the stem. Oxidation is always a bit more difficult to remove in that area. Once clean I noticed there is a decent size indent from a bite mark on the stem. I use a lighter to apply short stints of heat to the bite area, this pulls the indent out a bit each time. Be careful not to apply the heat too close. It will burn and damage the stem. My trick is putting a finger right next to the area I’m working on. This way I can feel if the lighter is too close. In my experience you don’t need a high temperature of heat applied. I do about 2 or 3 second stints with applying the heat. After the 3rd time the indent pulled outward enough that I felt satisfied in moving on to buffing and polishing.

For polishing and buffing the stem I use the same Black Emery and General Green approach along with the same buffing bits. However, I only used one round of 15000 sandpaper right before waxing. I skipped the 5000 and 10000 step I used on the stummel. The approach that I found works best is applying a round of Black Emery first. Followed by the green and then the 15000 sandpaper. From there I apply two rounds of wax just like I did with the stummel.

Here is the final result. I’m quite satisfied with it. I am very excited for this piece to be a part of the new Vintage Overhauled collection. Visit my store on Ebay to check it out and see others that have been restored.

Breathing Life into a BBB ** 504 Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an auction in April 2019 in Cynthiana, Kentucky, USA.  The pipe is a classic Canadian shape pipe. The pipe was a mess which probably accounted for how it ended up where it was at a fair price. On the top of the shank it is stamped with the BBB Diamond Logo [over] **. On the underside of the shank it is stamped London, England [over] the shape number 504. The stain is a medium brown is faded and worn looking. The finish was very dirty making it hard to see beyond that to the grain that pokes through underneath. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a thick overflow of lava onto the back of the rim top and edges. It was hard to know at this point the condition of the rim edges. The stem was oxidized and there were deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. There was no logo or brass BBB triangle on the topside of the taper. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the condition of both. It was thick and hard cake with a light lava overflow on the rim top and edges. The inner and outer edges of the rim looked good. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface and button. Jeff took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The finish is dirty but you can see the grain through the grime. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. It is faint but readable as noted above.Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish on the bowl looked much better. The rim top looked amazingly good with no damage to the edges of the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation and scrubbed it with Soft Scrub to remove the residual oxidation. The stem looked good and had minor tooth chatter on the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked much better than when he found it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took photos of the condition of the rim top and stem before I started working. The rim top looks better than before and the edges are in good condition. The bowl is spotless. The stem is in excellent condition with light chatter on both sides.I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is faint but readable as noted above.I took the bowl and stem apart and took a photo of the pipe to show the look of the pipe.The pipe was in such good shape that I started my work on the pipe by polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded the bowl and rim top with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar really took on a shine by the final pads.    I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl really looks good at this point. I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I am certain this is a replacement stem as it does not have a BBB logo or emblem on it. The fit is well done and stem is well made. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine.   Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the BBB ** 504 Canadian back together and buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a heavier touch with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the smooth finish and the black vulcanite stem. This classic long shank BBB ** 504 Canadian must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 32grams/1.13oz. This is one that will go on the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Yet Another Treasure – a 1911 BBB Own Make Glokar Poker


Blog by Steve Laug

It seems like just a few weeks ago I was contacted by an older gentleman about purchasing his pipe collection. He sent me the photos and I was amazed at what I saw. It had Dunhill pipes, BBB pipes, Orlik pipes, Barclay Rex Pipes, a couple of Meerschaums and a whole lot of other pipes. All I could say as I looked at the pipes was what a collection it was. We negotiated a deal and I think we both walked away quite happy with the exchange. But I have to tell you there was another very interesting pipe caught my interest when I looked at pictures of it. It was a beautiful older BBB Poker/Cherrywood sitter. It was a mess but there was something charming about  it. It is shown in the photo to the left. The larger pipe in the photo is also a BBB and from what I can gather it is on the larger side but not to degree it looks in the photo with the poker. This poker is tiny. It is only 4 ¼ inches long and 1 ½ inches tall. The black band on the shank is oxidized/tarnished Sterling Silver. I could not wait to get it in hand and figure out the age of the pipe. From the looks of it I could tell it was older. The stem was also very unique looking so I was looking forward to checking that out.

I have worked on a lot of BBB pipes over the years and never had the opportunity to work on one like this. It would be a great addition to my collection of older BBB pipes. From the photos the pipe appeared to be in good condition from the photo he sent me. He said that the pipe was stamped on the left side of the silver ferrule and read AF & Co over three hallmarks. The hallmarks are as follows: an anchor (Birmingham, England), a rampant lion (the symbol for quality of the silver) and the final one is a lower case “m” (the date stamp). I had him ship it to Jeff for cleanup so it would be a while before I held in hand.

When the package arrived at Jeff’s place in Idaho he waited for me and opened the box with me on Facetime to look at the collection of pipes as he removed them from the box. It is an amazing collection and one that I am going to enjoy working on over the months ahead. Jeff took some photos of the BBB Tiny Poker with a Sterling Silver Ferrule and a Peterson like system stem and internals for me to look at while he worked his magic in cleaning up the pipe. It is a an interesting pipe with a lot of potential and what appears to be some great grain under the grime and debris of the years.  Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. It was obviously a great smoking pipe and a favourite. I am hoping that the thick lava coat on the crowned rim top protected things underneath it from damage to the edges and top. Cleaning it would make that clear! He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button.  The photos of the stem also show the unique design and shape of the stem. I am looking forward to doing some research on the GLOKAR to figure out all I can about it.  Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. You can see the beautiful shape and the grain on the bowl even through the dirt and debris of 110 years. At this point in the process it certainly looks its age.  The stamping on the pipe was on the left side of the shank and read BBB in a diamond separating OWN MAKE on each side of the diamond. There was no other stamping on the shank sides. On the silver ferrule on the shank of the pipe it is stamped top and left side and it has the BBB diamond logo and underneath that is AF&Co (which is the Adolph Frankau & Company logo). After his death, the BBB gradually became known as Britain’s Best Briars. It is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, English trademark in current use and the first pipe ever to have a registered trade mark. Underneath the AF&Co it is stamped with three hallmarks – an anchor, a lion and a lower case “m”.  The anchor identifies the city of origin of the silversmith (Birmingham, England), the rampant lion (the symbol for quality of the silver) and the final one is a lower case “m” (the date stamp). The silver is badly oxidized but you can see the hallmarks in the first photo below. The stamping is clear and readable.The hard rubber stem is also stamped and reads GLOKAR over TRADE MARK. It is very readable as can be seen in the photo below. Since the hallmarks were so clear, I turned to one of the numerous silver hallmark charts on line for the city of Birmingham, England to see what I could find out about the “m” date stamp and pin down and age for the pipe (https://www.silvermakersmarks.co.uk/Dates/Birmingham.html). I clicked on the section that applied to the date stamp on this pipe. The first chart below is the chart from 1773-2024.I am also including screen capture of the enlarged section on the Birmingham dates for the letter M. This chart covers pipes made in 1778-1986. I have drawn a read box around the hallmark pattern that matches the one on the BBB Silver ferrule. You can see that it dates the pipe to 1911. That means that this little pipe is roughly 110 years old.

With the information from the hallmark site I had a clear date for the manufacture of the pipe. It was definitely an old timer and really was another stellar acquisition.

I wanted know more about the GLOKAR stamp and what it signified. I had an inkling that I was dealing with a BBB system pipe not unlike the Peterson’s System pipes but I wanted to see what I could find out about that. I have a facsimile of a 1912 BBB Catalogue No. 20 that has a section dedicated to the Glokar. On page 107-110 there is information about the pipe and the various versions available. Interestingly it does not include a picture/drawing of my Poker. I quote the description of the Trademarked Glokar below.

The “Glokar” Mouthpiece does away with the great drawback of all ordinary pipes, viz., the unpleasant and possibly injurious, effect of the smoke upon the tongue, as the end of the stem  has a smooth, concave surface, which while forming a pleasant rest for the tongue, acts as a barrier between it and the smoke. Instead of pressing through an ordinary round bore, the smoke leaves the mouthpiece through a fan-shaped slot, which is drilled in and upward direction – thus preventing saliva from entering the bore of the pipe.

Advantages:

  1. The bore, being kept dry, requires less cleaning than that of an ordinary pipe.
  2. As no saliva can reach the bowl, the tobacco can be consumed to the last particle.
  3. The shape of the mouthpiece affords the perfection of comfort for the mouth, tongue ad lips.

I took a photo of the picture that was included in the catalogue for the “GLOKAR” and have included it below. The cutaway diagram shows the system in the bowl and shank as well a the patented lip design. It is remarkably like a Peterson’s system pipe. One of the differences is the shape of the exit of the air way in the button. This one is a slot rather than a round hole.Now it was time to work on the pipe. Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe from top to stern. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank, stem and shank extension with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the calabash and the tarnish and lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and has a deep richness in the colour that highlights grain of the briar. The rim top looked good with some darkening on the top and outer edge of the bowl. Jeff soaked the stem in bath of Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. He worked it over with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner to remove any remnants of oxidation. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed it looked so good. Here are some photos of what I saw. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The rim top  was darkened but did not look otherwise damaged. There was also some darkening around the outer edge of the bowl that would need to be worked on. The silver ferrule was in great condition. I took close up photos of the stem to show the condition of the surface and button. I took a picture of the stamping on the shank. The reflection on the silver did not capture the stamping on the ferrule but it was all clear and readable as noted above.I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe with the short stem. It is a good looking pipe and very unique. I started my work on the pipe by addressing the darkening on the edges and rim top. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work over the edges (inner and outer) and the crowned rim top to try to minimize the darkening. While not flawless I was happy with the results.I polished the rim top and the rest of the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth.  I was able to give a shine to the bowl and remove some of the surface scratches in the process.  I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl 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 photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I polished the silver ferrule with a jewelers cloth to remove any residual tarnish and also to protect it from future tarnish (at least for awhile). With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks against the button edge with clear super glue. Once it cured I sanded out the repairs and the tooth chatter on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.    I filled in the Glokar Trademark stamping on the stem with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to highlight the stamping. I rubbed it on and worked it into the stamp with a toothpick. I buffed it off with a cotton pad. The stamp looks really good at this point.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.    With the bowl and the stem finished I put the pipe back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel and then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It really is an amazing little pipe. The dimensions of this part of the pipe are – Length: 4 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this tiny pipe is .71 ounces /20 grams. This unique find – a 1911 BBB Glokar Poker with a silver ferrule is joining the other pipes in my collection of BBB pipes and will hold a place of honour while it is in my trust. This is another pipe that one day soon I will enjoy a special bowl of tobacco in it and be transported to a slower paced time in history where I can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

 

Yet Another Treasure – a 1905 BBB Silver Capped Gourd Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

Time really flies during this COVID-19 time! It seems like just a few weeks ago I was contacted by an older gentleman about purchasing his pipe collection. He sent me the photos and I was amazed at what I saw. The collection included Dunhill pipes, BBB pipes, Orlik pipes, Barclay Rex Pipes, a couple of Meerschaums and a whole lot of other pipes. All I could say as I looked at the pipes was what a collection it was. We negotiated a deal and I think we both walked away quite happy with the exchange. But I have to tell you there was another very interesting pipe caught my interest when I looked at pictures of it. It was a beautiful older BBB Calabash with an albatross wing bone extension that is shown in the photo below. I have worked on a lot of BBB pipes over the years and never had the opportunity to work on one like this. It would be a great addition to my collection of BBB pipes. From the photos the pipe appeared to be in good condition from the photo he sent me. He said that the pipe was stamped on the left side of the silver ferrule and read AF & Co over three hallmarks. The hallmarks are as follows: an anchor (Birmingham, England), a rampant lion (the symbol for quality of the silver) and the final one is a lower case “f” (the date stamp). It has the same stamp on the rim cap and the shank extension. I could not wait to get it and have a look at it up close and personal. I had him ship it to Jeff for cleanup so it would be a while before I held in hand.When the package arrived at Jeff’s place in Idaho he waited for me and opened the box with me on Facetime to look at the collection of pipes as he removed them from the box. It is an amazing collection and one that I am going to enjoy working on over the months ahead. Jeff took some photos of the BBB Calabash with the silver cap and bone shank extension for me to look at while he worked his magic in cleaning up the pipe. It is a real beauty. Jeff took photos of the bowl and the silver capped rim top to show the cake in the bowl. The silver cap has some nicks, dents and dings in it that will remain after the cleanup as part of the story of the pipe. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the gourd. You can see the beautiful shape and the contrast of the silver and the calabash even through the dirt and debris of over 105 years.       The stamping on the pipe was on the silver of the pipe rather than any where else on the gourd. It is on the rim cap, the ferrule and the end cap of the extension. On the rim cap it is stamped toward the front and reads AF&Co which are the Adolph Frankau Company. After his death, the BBB gradually became known as Britain’s Best Briars. Soon to be the oldest English trademark in current use and the first pipe ever to have a registered trade mark. “Britain’s Best Briars”, often called BBB, is one of the oldest brands still in production. At the back of the rim cap it is stamped with three hallmarks – an anchor, a lion and a lower case “f”.  The anchor identifies the city of origin of the silversmith (Birmingham, England), the rampant lion (the symbol for quality of the silver) and the final one is a lower case “f” (the date stamp). There is a slight variation on the stamping on the scalloped ferrule. It includes the BBB Diamond stamp above the AF&Co which is above the same three hallmarks noted above. The shank extension matches the ferrule exactly. All have the same date letter “h”.  The ferrule has some dents on the left side as shown in the photos below. Because of the attachment to the gourd I will be leaving the dents as a part of the pipe’s story. I turned to one of the numerous silver hallmark chars on line for the city of Birmingham, England (https://www.silvermakersmarks.co.uk/Dates/Birmingham.html) and was able click on the section that applied to the date stamp on this pipe. The first chart below is the chart from 1773-2024.I am also including screen capture of the enlarged section on the Birmingham dates for the letter F. This chart covers pipes made in 1778-2005. I have drawn a read box around the hallmark pattern that matches the one on the BBB pipe silverwork. You can see that it dates the pipe to 1905. That means that this gourd calabash is over 115 years old. All of the silverwork confirms the 1905 date for the pipe. The bowl lining in the calabash seems to be a clay lining that is seat in the gourd and held in place by the silver top cap.

With the information from the two sites I had a pretty clear idea on the background of the pipe. It was definitely an old timer and really was another stellar acquisition. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe from top to stern. He reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank, stem and shank extension with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. Without being able to remove the bowl liner the internal cleaning of the gourd was complicated but he cleaned it as much as possible. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the calabash and the tarnish and lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and has a deep richness in the colour that highlights gourd. The rim top looked very good and the inner and outer edge looked very good. The nicks and dents in the silver remain and will be “war wounds” that travel with the pipe. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. He worked it over with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner to remove any remnants of oxidation. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour I was amazed it looked so good. Here are some photos of what I saw.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The rim top  looked good. There were some dents and scratches in the silver. I took close up photos of the stem to show the condition of the surface and button. I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe with the short stem and with the extension. It is a good looking pipe and very unique.I polished the silver rim top, edges and the gourd with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth.  I was able to give a shine to the silver, remove scratches a bit and also polish the gourd.     I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the gourd with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the gourd. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I polished the scalloped silver ferrule with a jewelers cloth to remove any residual tarnish and also to protect it from future tarnish (at least for awhile). The interesting detail for me is that the ferrule is scalloped and the end of the shank extension that holds the stem also is scalloped.   With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the silver stem cap with a jewelers cloth that helps remove any residual tarnish and protects the silver.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.    With the bowl and the short stem finished I put the pipe back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel and then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It really is an amazing little pipe. The dimensions of this part of the pipe are – Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the short version of the pipe is 2.33 ounces/66 grams. This unique find – a 1905 BBB Silver Capped Gourd Calabash is joining the other pipes in my collection of BBB pipes and will hold a place of honour while it is in my trust. This is another pipe that one day soon I will enjoy a special bowl of tobacco in it and be transported to a slower paced time in history where I can enjoy a respite. With the pipe and short stem finished all that remained was to finish the shank extension that fit in the shank end of the pipe. The end that fit into the shank had the same end cap as the stem itself. The opposite end was fitted to receive the end cap of the stem. The tube between the caps is albatross wing bone. There was a small crack in the bone at the joint of the silver that held the stem. I filled in the crack with clear CA glue to stabilized. It I polished it with the full gamut of micromesh sanding pads to blend it in the rest of the bone. I polished the silver with a jewelers cloth to remove residual tarnish in the turnings of the silver caps and polished the shank extension with Obsidian Oil. The length of the extension tube is 8 ½ inches. I took a few photos of the pipe next to the extension to give a sense of the size. I also took photos of the extension tube with the stem in place to show the look of it. Finally the last photos give a sense of the fully extended BBB Silver Capped Calabash with the bone extension. With it installed on the pipe the length of the pipe is 13 inches. Height and other measurements remain as noted above.

Breathing Life into a BBB Own Make Thorneycroft 708  Square Shank Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The next interesting looking large Billiard was picked up in 2018 from a fellow in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. The long, square shank sandblasted Dublin looked very good. The finish was dirty but otherwise in good condition on the bowl and shank. The pipe is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank and reads BBB in a diamond [over] Own Make [over] Thorneycroft  [over] London, England. To the right of this toward the stem it is stamped with the shape number 708. The Thorneycroft line seems to be associated with the sandblast finished pipes. There was a thick cake in the shank and thick overflow of lava on the rim top that obscured potential damage on either. The stem was the original, square tapered vulcanite without the usual brass BBB diamond of stamping. It was oxidized, calcified and had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides. The pipe had a lot of potential. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.     He took a photo of the rim top to show condition of the bowl. It is hard to tell what the inner edge of the bowl looks like under the lava coat. It is a very dirty pipe. He also captured the condition of the stem. It is oxidized, calcified and has light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button.     He took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the sandblast finish around the bowl and the condition of the pipe.    The pipe is stamped BBB in a diamond [over] Own Make [over] Thorneycroft [over] London, England that is followed on the right by the shape number 708.   I looked on Pipephil’s site for information on the Thorneycroft line and found the following listing. I did a screen capture of the section on the line (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-bbb.html) and have included it below.I looked on Pipedia and found several references to the BBB Own Make Thorneycroft pipe but nothing specific (https://pipedia.org/wiki/BBB).

It was time to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. I took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the rim top and bowl. The bowl has raw briar for the lower third of the bowl. The rim top is clean and the blast looks very good. I took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show cut marks on the top and underside of the stem.The stamping on the underside of the shank was readable. It read as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe.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 and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for ten minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive and the finish looked rich. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further the stem. The photos below show the polished stem.    I am pretty happy with the restoration of this BBB Own Make Thorneycroft Sandblast Canted Dublin. There is a sandblast finish to the bowl that is rugged and rich looking. The stem is clean and smooth with no damage. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished BBB Own Make Thorneycroft fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe was 29g/1.06oz. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!  

New Life for a BBB Own Make Thorneycroft 130 Prince


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a fellow from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. It has been sitting here for just over 2 years. Jeff took photos more than a year ago. Now I am finally getting a chance to work on it. The pipe is a classic Prince-shaped sandblasted pipe. The pipe was an absolute mess which probably accounted for how we ended up purchasing it for a fair price. On the underside of the heel and shank it is stamped with the BBB Diamond Logo [over] Own Make. To the right side of that it is stamped Thorneycroft followed by Made in England with a large E framing that part of the stamp. The stain is a mix of blacks and browns that makes the sandblast stand out even with the grime. The finish was very dirty with dust and debris in the grooves of the blast. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a thick overflow of lava onto the rim top and edges. It was hard to know at this point the condition of the rim edges. The shank was so dirty that the stem did not seat properly against the shank end. The stem was oxidized, calcified and there were deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. The stem had the brass BBB Diamond inlaid into the topside of the taper. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the condition of both. It was thick and hard cake with an unbelievably thick lava overflow on the rim top and edges. Hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface and button. The tooth marks are quite deep on both sides of the stem.     Jeff took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The finish so dirty it is hard to see the grain but it is present nonetheless.  Jeff took photos of the stamping on the top and right side of the shank. It is very clear and readable as noted above.   The stem had the BBB Brass logo on the top side. One the underside it is stamped with the number 130 which is the shape number.I did a search on Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-bbb.html) and looked for the specific Thorneycroft line. The second pipe in the list is stamped the same way as the one that I am working on and the stamping on the stem is the same. The Made in England stamp is identical to the second one.This pipe was a bit of a mess like many of the pipes we work on. I was curious to see what it would look like when I unpacked it. I was surprised at how good it looked. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish on the bowl looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked very good. The inner edge showed no damage and outer edges looked good. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked better other than the tooth marks and chatter in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked much better than when he found it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.  I took photos of the condition of the rim top and stem before I started working. The rim top looks better than before and the damage is very obvious to the rim top and the inner edge. The bowl is spotless. The stem has some deep tooth marks on both sides and the button itself.   I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.  I took the bowl and stem apart and took a photo of the pipe to show the look of the pipe. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, rim top and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain and the separate finishes really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl really looks good at this point. I set it aside and worked on the stem.    I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift them as much as possible. I filled in the remaining tooth dents and marks with Black Super Glue and set it aside for the repairs to cure. Once they cured I flattened them with a file. I cleaned up the repaired areas with 220 sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine.    Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a heavier touch with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the smooth finish and the black vulcanite stem. This richly stained BBB Own Make Thorneycroft 130 Prince must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 31grams/1.09oz. This is one that will go on the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Breathing Life into a BBB Natural Grain 01 Zulu


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a pipe hunt that Jeff and his wife recently did in Utah, USA.  The pipe is a classic Zulu shape pipe. The pipe was an absolute mess which probably accounted for how it ended up where it was at a fair price. On the top of the shank it is stamped with the BBB Diamond Logo [over] Silver Grain. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 01. The stain is a mix of browns that makes me wonder about the Natural Grain stamping on the pipe. The finish was very dirty making it hard to see beyond that to the grain that pokes through underneath. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a thick overflow of lava onto the rim top and edges. It was hard to know at this point the condition of the rim edges. The stem was oxidized and there were deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. The stem had a stamped BBB Diamond logo on the topside of the taper. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below.   Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the condition of both. It was thick and hard cake with an unbelievably thick lava overflow on the rim top and edges. Hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface and button. The tooth marks are quite deep on both sides of the stem.     Jeff took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The finish so dirty it is hard to see the grain but it is present nonetheless.  Jeff took photos of the stamping on the top and right side of the shank. It is very clear and readable as noted above.    This pipe was a real mess like many of the pipes we work on. I was curious to see what it would look like when I unpacked it. I was surprised at how good it looked. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish on the bowl looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked much better but had some darkening that I would need to deal with. The inner edge showed some significant damage and outer edges looked good. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked better other than some light oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked much better than when he found it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.  I took photos of the condition of the rim top and stem before I started working. The rim top looks better than before and the damage is very obvious to the rim top and the inner edge. The bowl is spotless. The stem has some deep tooth marks on both sides and the button itself. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.  I took the bowl and stem apart and took a photo of the pipe to show the look of the pipe. I was surprised to see a rather large stinger. I would be removing that and not putting it back. If the new owner wants it I will include it in the package with the pipe.I started my work on the pipe by cleaning the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had it cleaned up I topped the bowl on a topping board to remove the damage to the rim top. It also helped to minimize some of the damage to the inner edge. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded the bowl and rim top with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar really took on a shine by the final pads.   I touched up the rim top with a Maple stain pen to match the rest of the briar around the bowl. Buffing and polishing would blend it in further.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain and the separate finishes really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for 10-15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl really looks good at this point. I set it aside and worked on the stem. I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I started by heating the stinger with a lighter and carefully turning it out of the tenon. It was pressure fit so the heat loosened the tars that held it fast and I was able to remove it. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift them as much as possible. I filled in the remaining tooth dents and marks with Black Super Glue and set it aside for the repairs to cure. Once they cured I flattened them with a file. I cleaned up the repaired areas with 220 sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine.   I used some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to touch up the brass/gold colour in the BBB Diamond logo on the topside of the stem. I rubbed it in and rubbed it off leaving the gold behind in the stamp.   Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a heavier touch with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the smooth finish and the black vulcanite stem. This richly stained BBB Natural Grain 01 Zulu must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 25grams/.88oz. This is one that will go on the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.