Tag Archives: BBB pipes

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.

 

Restoring a Tall BBB Silver Grain 264 Stack


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from the estate of a Vancouver pipe smoker whose widow left them with a local Pipe Shop after he died. I was asked to clean them up and sell them for the shop as it has since closed. This is another English pipe – a BBB Silver Grain Stack. It is a smooth finished pipe with some interesting grain – cross grain and mixed grains. The pipe is stamped on the left side and reads BBB [over] Silver Grain and on the right side it is stamped London, England [over] the shape number 264. The bowl has a thick and heavy cake with a thick lava coat on the top of the rim. It was hard to tell how the inner and outer edge of the rim actually looked until the bowl was reamed. The smooth finish had years of dust and debris ground into it around the bowl. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There was a brass BBB Diamond on the topside of the stem that was oxidized and dirty. The tall stack had promise but it was very dirty. I took some photos of the pipe to show what it looked like when I received it.  I had sent the batch of pipes from the shop to my brother Jeff in Idaho and he had cleaned them up for me. It was several years ago now that he sent them back to me and I am just now getting to finish them. He reamed them with a Pipnet Reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife.  He had scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and rinsed it off with warm water to remove the grime in the rustication. He cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the tarry residue and oils in the shank and airway. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the stem surface. When it arrived here on my work table I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration.    The rim top looked far better but there was some darkening on the surface as well as some scratches. The inner edge of the rim looked very good other than a flaw on the back right inner edge. The stem look good but there was some heavy oxidation and there were light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.   I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping is faint but still readable and reads as noted above.     I took the stem off the pipe and took a photo of the parts to show the stinger apparatus and the look of the pipe as a whole.I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and then worked on the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give it a slight bevel. Once it is finished the rim top and edge looks much better.   I polished the newly topped rim with micromesh sanding pads. I sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between each pad with a damp cloth. By the end you can see the shine on the rim surface.    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 horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. You can see the underlying grain begin to show through the rustication.    I “painted” the surface of the stem and button with the flame of a lighter to raise the bite marks. The process worked very well and lifted all of the marks on the top side and there was a slight dip along the button on the top side and two remaining marks left on the underside.    I filled in the remaining tooth marks with black super glue. Once it cured I smoothed out the surface of the repair with a needle file.  I sanded out the repair with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.      This beautiful BBB Silver Grain 264 Stack, an English made pipe from the local pipe shop estate that I am restoring and selling for them is a great looking pipe. The smooth medium brown finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. 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 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 Silver Grain Stack 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: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. I have a variety of brands to work on from the shop. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

 

 

A New Life for a Beautiful BBB 2 Star Sandblast 414 Bulldog from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

I have only 13 more of Bob’s pipes to finish before I have completed the restoration of his estate so I am continuing to work on them. The next one from Bob Kerr’s Estate is one of two BBB pipes in his collection. It is a nice looking 2 Star sandblast Bulldog. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs that include the biographical notes about Bob. Here is a link to one of them (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

The BBB 2 Start Sandblast 414 Bulldog has a saddle vulcanite stem. It is a shallow sandblast finish around the bowl and shank that has a lot of dust and debris ground into the finish of the briar. It was stamped on left underside of the diamond shank. It is stamped BBB in a Diamond box (logo) [over] two stars **. Next to that it reads London, England [over] the shape number 414. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. There was tobacco debris stuck on the bottom and sides of the bowl. The vulcanite stem was calcified, oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup. As I mentioned above the exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like because of the lava.          Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl.    The next photo show the stamping on the left underside of the diamond shank and it is very readable. It reads as noted above. The second photo shows the inlaid BBB Diamond logo on the upper left side of the diamond stem.     The stem was dirty, calcified and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button.            With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. Bob’s pipes were generally real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. I was surprised to see how well it turned out. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals 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 looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.    I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top had some darkening but the inner and outer edges of the bowl were in excellent condition. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.     I took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above.   I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. The oxidation is very visible.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I scrubbed the deep oxidation with Soft Scrub. It took a lot of elbow grease but I finally broke through to the shiny surface beneath the brown oxidation.         I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     This gorgeous BBB two star Sandblast Bulldog from Bob Kerr’s estate cleaned up really well and looks very good. The mixed stain brown finish on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. 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 sandblast 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 Bulldog fits nicely in the hand and I think it will feel great as it heats up with a good tobacco. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

New Start for an older BBB Best Ambroid Cased Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff and I picked up this older BBB Cased Billiard in a group of pipes we purchased not too long ago. It is quite unique. I have worked on a lot of BBB pipes over the years as they are one of my favourite brands and I have quite a few in my collection. This one is a bit different in that it has very little that gives a clue to its age. It is a nice briar with a silver band that is stamped with BBB in the Diamond and Sterling Silver. There were no hallmarks on the band to pin down a date.  It is stamped on the inside of the case with the BBB Diamond logo. The left side of the shank itself is stamped with the BBB Diamond logo. The stem in golden Ambroid and has a bone tenon that screws into the briar shank. It came in a worn black leather covered case lined with black chamois. The case has a brass clasp on the front and brass hinges on the back. It was obviously custom made for this pipe.Jeff opened the case and this was what the pipe that was inside looked like. It was a nice looking classic billiard that is for sure but it was also very dirty. The bowl and shank were a rich medium brown that was very dirty. The stem was golden Ambroid material. The exterior of the bowl was very dirty and had tars and oils ground into the finish and sticky spots on the finish. There was a chip missing on the outer edge at the back of the bowl. The rim top was a mess with lava overflowing out of the thick cake in the bowl. I am sure once it was out of the case it would become clear how dirty it really was.Jeff took it out of the case to have a better look at the condition of the pipe. It was a very classic billiard with a silver band and golden stem. It looked like it would cleanup really well and look great when finished. The finish on the briar bowl looked like it would be great once it was clean. He took some close-up photos of the bowl and rim top. There was a thick cake in the bowl that was hard and uneven. The lava overflowed over the rim top but it looked like the inner edge of the bowl was in good condition. The outer edge had some large nicks and gouges – chunks of briar missing on the back edge. Jeff took photos of the sides of the bowl and heel to show the grain and condition of the finish around the bowl. The pipe has some great grain around the sides. In terms of stamping the only identifying marks on the pipe were the gold BBB Diamond logo on the inside of the case lid, the same stamped on the left side of the shank and again on the silver band. Jeff captured those marks in the next set of photos. The logo on the inside lid of the case was worn and but still readable. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank and the band. He took photos of the stem off the shank/base. The stem has a threaded bone tenon that was filthy with oils and tars. The internals of the pipe were very dirty.Jeff took photos of the stem to show the general condition of the stem shape. The Ambroid stem is well gnawed on both sides around the button. The first photo shows the profile of the straight narrow stem. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the damage and bite marks on both sides up the stem from the button.In 2009 Briar Books Press published a reprint of the 1912 BBB Catalogue No.XX from Adolph Frankau & Co, Ltd.London, E.C. I purchased a copy of the book when it came out and enjoyed reading through it and dreaming about the various pipes that were pictured there. I remembered that there was a section of pipes in the catalogue –Section E called pipes in Cases and it had individually cased pipes with Ambroid stems. I turned to that section in the catalogue and read through the various descriptions and looked at the pictures and sure enough I found this pipe. The only variation was that the one in the drawing had hallmarks on the silver but the rest was identical including the case and stamping on the lid. The top pipe on the right side of the page photo below looks like the one that I am working on.It is described in the title of the page a Best Ambroid Briars Silver Mounted in Cases and available in a variety of sizes. Now I knew the pipe I was working on and that there was at least some variation of it available in the 1912 BBB Catalogue.

It was time to work on it now and do my part of the restoration. I took the leather case from the box that Jeff had shipped to me and brought it to the work table. I opened it up and took photos of the case and the pipe in the case before taking it out and examining it thoroughly to see what I needed to do. You can see the definite similarity between this pipe and the on in the drawing on the top right of the photo above.The pipe looked very clean. The bowl had been reamed back with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. The internals of the shank and stem had been cleaned with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The exterior of the bowl had been scrubbed with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. The silver band had been cleaned and the tarnish removed. The stem was clean and the damage to the Ambroid was very visible and ready to repair. Jeff had done his usual great job on the clean up. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem to show the areas that I would need to address. You can see the that the bowl and rim are very clean. The inner edge of the rim has some damage as do the top and outer edge. There is general darkening to the rim top and scratches and nicks on the surface. The stem is also very clean and the gouges on the top and underside near the button are visible and ready for repair.I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. I also wanted to show that the band had turned on the shank so that the BBB Diamond was now on the topside so I took a second photo to capture that. I would need to realign the band and glue it in place.I unscrewed the stem from the shank and took photos of the parts. The bone tenon that connects the stem to the shank is visible.I decided to begin my part of the restoration by addressing the issues with the rim top and edges. I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board to smooth out the damage on the rim top and the immediate damage on the inner and outer edges. Once I had it smooth I used clear super glue and briar dust to repair the deep gouges in the back outer edge of the bowl. I took a photo of the rim top at this point to show how good the inner edge and top looked. You can also see the repair on the back outer edge of the bowl that still needs to be sanded. I sanded the repair with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surrounding briar and then took a photo of the bowl looking down at the edges. I am happy with the state of the rim and edges at this point in the process. I removed the band from the shank before moving on to  polish the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I sanded the old glue off the shank to make it smooth for the refit. I polished the bowl, rim and shank with 1500-12000 grit micromesh pads wiping it down between pads with a damp cloth. The way in which the rim top colour was blending in with the rest of the briar was perfect and would not need to be stained. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I find that it adds a depth to the polish that I really have come to appreciate. All that remains at this point is to wax and polish the bowl. The bowl looked very good at this point. I was able to preserve the old patina and through polishing blend the rim top into the rest of the finish. It was time to put the band back in place. I used a dental spatula to apply all-purpose white glue to the shank and aligned the band and pressed it in place. I wanted the BBB Diamonds on the shank and band to match as I had seen in photos on line. I wiped away the excess glue with a damp cotton pad.I set the bowl aside and turned to address the issues with the stem. I used a clear CA glue to fill in the deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem and to rebuild the button. I had to layer the glue and let it harden between applications to get a smooth fill on the stem.Once the repairs had cured I used a needle file to cut the sharp edge of the button and to smooth out the repairs.I smoothed out the repairs with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.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 a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I put the bowl and stem back together and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of Carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the entirety of the pipe with a microfiber cloth. The pipe was alive now and looked great to me. The patina of the older BBB shines through and the repaired Ambroid stem – though far from it pristine beginnings – looks very good.  This pipe is well balanced feels great in my hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This older BBB Best Ambroid Cased Briar pipe is a beauty and the Ambroid Stem, Sterling Silver Band and old patina briar look stunning together. It is an old BBB pipe so of course it is one that will be staying in my BBB collection. It will be a great addition to my collection of that classic English Brand. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Restoring a 2 Star BBB “Special” # 395


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

A few weeks ago, Steve had worked on a BBB Own Make 693 Canadian with some really gorgeous grains to boast about. As I was reading the blog, I remembered the BBBs that Abha had cleaned and sent across for further restoration along with 40 other pipes. However, since I was working on a Thorburn Clark pipe from my inheritance, I had postponed work on this BBB. With the Thorburn Clark completed, I rummaged through the pile and separated all the BBBs that she had sent. This is the one that caught my attention. The note in the package, along with the issues observed by Abha while cleaning the pipe, said that it was from my grandfather’s collection!! I had to work on this BBB.

This BBB in bent Apple shape with a saddle stem has stunning grains and it appears that the grain on the block of briar dictated the shape to the carver. The stummel boasts of beautiful tightly packed straight grains to the front, sides, back and along the sides of the shank. The foot of the stummel, bottom and top of the shank has the most beautiful and distinct bird’s eye that you would ever see. The transition from bird’s eye at the foot of the stummel to the straight grain all around is very well defined and seamless. The stummel is stamped on the left shank surface, close to the shank end, in trademark rhombus as “BBB” over two Stars (**) on either side of the lower part of the rhombus over “SPECIAL”. On the left shank surface, it is stamped as “LONDON ENGLAND” over the shape code “395”. The bottom of the shank bears the numeral “0” very close to the shank end. Inlaid BBB brass diamond logo on the saddle adorns the vulcanite stem. If you are interested to know anything about BBB pipes, look no further than rebornpipes.com!! This is Steve’s favorite brand and he has been researching and collecting BBB pipes for decades. I visited rebornpipes and sure enough there was a write up on “History of BBB Pipes”! Here is the link to the blog: https://rebornpipes.com/2012/08/05/history-of-bbb-pipes/

I was more interested in background information of the brand and later in the dating of this pipe. Here is what I found interesting;

Adolph Frankau arrived in London in 1847 and quickly grasped the opportunities which the enlarging tobacco market introduced. He started “Adolph Frankau and Co.” and began importing meerschaum pipes and tobacco supplies. The Company took a young 14 year-old boy, Louis Blumfeld under its wing. The Company quickly thrived and did so until the untimely death of Adolph Frankau in 1856. His widow decided to sell the company.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), author of “Hero and worship of the heroes” came on the scene at this point. He recommended that the widow Frankau not sell, but rather that she should entrust the future of the company into the hands of young Louis Blumfeld, then 18 years old. Carlyle had to have had a very high opinion of the young Louis to make this recommendation, and his trust proved to be justified as Blumfield took care of the company with enthusiasm and bottomless energy. Louis quickly realized, as others had before him, the potential of the newly acknowledged pipes made of briar.

Louis Blumfeld developed important international trade relations from the beginning, and had particular success in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Europe, as well as Switzerland and Denmark. The USA had never been an extraordinary market for the company, but nonetheless a subsidiary was opened in New York. His commercial strategy focused on the countries of British Empire.        

In the 1930s, the top pipe of the line was “BBB Best Make” with variants such as “Great Dam” and “Ultonia Thule”. The BBB Carlton, sold retail in 1938, was endowed with a complicated stinger system; the same system was also used on the BBB London Dry. The Blue Peter was not stamped BBB but BBB Ultonia, and BBB Two Star (**) was the stamping on lesser quality pipes.

Shapes of BBB pipe were typical of other companies pipes made in this era: half were billiards, some princes and bullcaps, bulldogs and some bents. It is also in this period that the inlaid metal BBB was put on more upscale pipes, while series of lesser quality had only the stamped BBB on the stem.

During the middle of 1950s and 1960s, BBB lines were comparatively stable. The top pipes of the line were stamped Own Make “Rare Grain”, followed by Own Make “Virgin”, Own Make “Walnut” and finally Own Make “Thorneycroft”.

From the above, it is evident that the BBB on my work table is from the period 1930 to 1950.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber had a thick layer of cake, but not as thick as seen in some of his pipes. As expected, the rim top surface is covered with overflow of lava. The beveled inner edge of the rim in 11 ‘O’ clock direction is badly damaged which could probably be caused as a result of hitting against a hard surface to remove the dottle. The outer rim edge too has dents and dings around. The condition of the walls can be commented upon only once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. This chamber has some pretty strong ghost smells.   The stummel surface is pebbled with numerous dents, dings and scratches. However, there is not a single fill in the stummel surface!! Significant damage was seen to the front of the stummel and around the rim. This damage, in all probability, has been caused due to uncared for storage and it having rubbed against some hard object. The briar had taken on a nice aged patina and I shall try to preserve it. However, the kind of damage to the stummel would necessitate a few invasive methods to address these issues which are detrimental to preservation of aged patina. Let’s see how the restoration pans out!! The mortise showed dried accumulated gunk with a blocked draught hole. Air flow was very laborious to say the least.The stem is heavily oxidized with a deep gouge on either side of the saddle of the stem. This and other stummel damage could have been due to uncared for storage for the last 40 odd years. There is no significant damage to the button or in the bite zone, save for a few very minor tooth marks to button edges and tooth chatter in the bite zone. This was surprising as I have observed that the stem was the most damaged part in most of my inherited collection. Maybe my grandfather did not like the smoking character of this pipe or the shape or the hand feel or the clench or could be that he did not like the size of this pipe (most probable cause since he preferred large sized ones!!) The tenon is covered in dried gunk. INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. In the note that she had packed with pipe, she mentioned that getting a pipe cleaner out through the draught hole was not easy. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way. She covered the inlaid brass stem logo with petroleum jelly (helps protect the metal from corrosion due the solution) and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
The initial cleaning by Abha, my wife, is thorough and while saving me time, it also provides a clear picture of all the issues that needs to be addressed during the restoration process. She also makes a note of all the issues that she observed during initial cleaning for me to address and includes this note with each pipe that she packs. It’s a big saving on the time factor and I am really thankful to her for indulging me.

This is how the pipe came to me after Abha had worked her magic. This is definitely a beautiful pipe and would be a challenge for me to do justice and bring the beauty of this pipe to the fore!!

The chamber walls are solid without any signs of damage. The smooth and thin rim top surface is where all the action is on this pipe with an added bonus of an equally damaged beveled inner rim edge. At this point, the damage to the outer rim edge does not appear to be a major issue and should be easy to address. The ghost smells are greatly reduced, but still offending to the olfactory nerves. One major cause of concern is in the heel of the stummel. There is a dip at the bottom that forms a channel from the draught hole to the heel with raised shoulders along the sides (marked in yellow arrows). If this issue is not addressed now, prolonged further use may subsequently lead to a burnout at the foot of the stummel. However, as things stand now, the external surface at the foot appears solid. As observed earlier, there is not a single fill in the entire stummel. The reasoning for giving it a 2 Star, denoting lesser grade, fails me completely!! Abha had nicely cleaned the stummel surface. The surface is solid to the touch but has a number of dents and dings over the stummel, notably to the front, sides and a couple at the foot of the stummel (marked in yellow circles and arrows). Is it a figment of my imagination or a reality, I am not sure, but I think I saw a very slightly darkened spot at the bottom of the foot (circled in green), which was strongly refuted by anyone and everyone I happened to show it to. Just to be sure, I gently tapped it with the back of a screw driver for a shallow sound, but nothing!! I checked the entire stummel for sound and it all sounded the same. The stummel is solid throughout. In the note that Abha had enclosed in the packet containing this pipe, she had mentioned that she could not get a pipe cleaner through the mortise and the draught hole and as such she had left it alone. I would need to check it and further clean the mortise. The stem is free of any major tooth indentations/ bite marks. Minor light tooth chatter, however, is seen on both the stem surfaces in the bite zone. The lip edges needs to be sharpened and evened out. The stem still has signs of deep oxidation. The otherwise good condition of the stem is marred by deep gouges on either sides of the saddle of the stem. THE PROCESS
The first issue that I decided to address was that of the blocked air way in the mortise. With the bent flat dental tool, I scraped the walls of the mortise and removed as much of the dried gunk as I could. Using a round needle file, I tried to pry at the blockage, but to no avail. What I found unusual was that an upward movement of the needle file had a little give, however, when I tried to push it in straight, I hit a hard and solid block. Using shank brush and dish washing soap, I scrubbed the shank internals clean. This helped in getting a better idea of what lurked within the mortise that was preventing the pipe cleaner from coming out of the draught hole.I checked the mortise internals under a torch light and what I saw surprised me no end!! Straight away, I could not see the draught hole straight ahead and all that I saw was a reservoir like the one seen on a Pete System pipe. Closer observation around the mortise revealed the opening for the draught hole that was aligned towards the top side and that too was at a weird angle to the rest of the mortise. Here is how the internal of the mortise looked and will present a clearer picture of what I have been trying to explain.Well, this could very well be a flaw in the drilling of the mortise or could be a design element for a better smoke (HIGHLY IMPROBABLE!!), I really cannot tell. Continuing with the internal cleaning of the bowl, I subject the chamber to salt and alcohol treatment to get rid of the strong ghost smells. I insert a folded pipe cleaner through the mortise and out of the draught hole in to the chamber. Thereafter, I tightly pack cotton balls in the mortise, pushing it deep with a dental tool. Next I tightly pack cotton balls in to the chamber, slightly below the rim edge. Once this set up is ready, I pour 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol in to the chamber and mortise, using a syringe. I let the alcohol settle down and top it again after about an hour. I set the stummel aside for the night to let the alcohol loosen up the grime, draw out all the entrenched oils and be trapped in the cotton. By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out the old oils and tars from the chamber and mortise. I removed the cotton from the chamber and the mortise. I scraped out the loosened crud from the mortise with my dental tools and further cleaned the mortise using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners. However, on close scrutiny of the mortise under a torch light, I realized that the mortise was still not clean. While removing the loosened cake from the chamber, I gently scraped the shoulders that had formed at the heel near the draught hole. Lucky me, the shoulder that was formed was nothing but hardened cake and was easily removed due to the softening during the salt and alcohol bath. Using my dental tools, I scraped out all the crud that I could and followed it up with a cleaning using q-tips and alcohol. Though the mortise cleaned up pretty nicely, the smells were still strong. I decided to subject the chamber and the mortise to a second salt and alcohol bath. I followed the procedure for the bath explained above and set the stummel aside for the bath to work its magic. The next day, all the remaining oils and tars were drawn out and trapped in the pipe cleaner and cotton. I cleaned the mortise again using pipe cleaners and dental tools. I am happy with the way the mortise cleaned up this time. The pipe smells clean and fresh. 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 and 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 the steaming. Steaming out the dents and dings from the stummel surface had necessitated that the surface of the stummel be evened out by sanding. Using a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I sand the entire stummel surface taking care to preserve the stampings on this pipe. To address the damaged inner beveled edge of the rim as well as the dents and dings and darkening of the thin rim top surface, I topped the rim top on 180 grit sand paper. I took a piece of used and worn 180 grit sand paper, folded it and pinching it between my thumb and forefinger, freshened the inner bevel on the inner edge of the rim. Both the rim top and inner edge look much better than before. Staying with the stummel restoration, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I polished the freshly topped rim surface and the newly created inner rim bevel. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. I am surprised that the rim top surface has the same deep brown coloration as the rest of the stummel surface and use of stain pen was not required. Also the supposed dark spot at the foot of the stummel was indeed a figment of my imagination and was nothing but the eye in the bird’s eye grain, whew!! The next step is the application of the “Before and After Restoration Balm”, developed by Mark Hoover and a must have for restorations. This product not only protects and enlivens the briar but also highlights the grains on the surface. I rubbed a small quantity of the balm into the briar surface with my fingers and set it aside for about 20 minutes. The transformation is almost immediate and I polished the surface with a microfiber cloth to bring out a deep shine on the stummel. The bird’s eye and straight grains look awesome. The following pictures speak for themselves. Now with the stummel refurbished, I turned my attention to the stem. I start with addressing the issue of deep gouges to the either sides of the saddle by heating the damaged surface with the flame of a lighter. The heat from the flame expands the vulcanite and raises it to the surface. The results are pretty satisfactory.Next I sand the entire stem surface with a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper followed by a 220 grit sand paper. This addresses two issues; firstly the minor tooth chatter in the bite zone and the raised gouges are evened out and secondly, the residual oxidation is sanded out. I follow it up with sharpening of the lip edges with a flat head needle file. To finish the stem repairs, I wiped out the raised oxidation and dust from the surface with Murphy’s Oil soap and cotton swab.To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth after each pad. Another Mark Hoover product which I had recently ordered is the “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish. I applied a small quantity of this polish and rubbed it deep in to the vulcanite stem. This polish, purportedly, is supposed to remove the finer sanding marks left behind by the abrasive grit papers. The pictures of the process and final results are shown below.Only the brass BBB stem logo remains to be polished. Abha, my wife, had suggested that I should try using Colgate toothpowder to bring back the shine on the metal logo. She had tried this on her jewelry with amazing results. I rubbed the brass logo with Colgate toothpowder and the results are truly amazing.To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give 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. This is a truly beautiful pipe with a classic bent Apple shape boasting of stunning straight grains all round the stummel and shank and bird’s eye grains at the bottom of the entire stummel. Just to be on the safe side, I decided to protect the chamber walls and the heel of the stummel by giving it a bowl coating of activated charcoal and yogurt. This not only protects the walls from direct contact with the burning tobacco but also helps in speeding up the formation of cake. Now the pipe is completed aesthetically as well as functionally.P.S. The only aspect that was bothering me with this pipe is the alignment of the opening of the draught hole in to the mortise. I shared my concerns and pictures of the skewed alignment with my Guru and mentor, Steve. He suggested that this issue, to be addressed, may necessitate funneling the tenon end. He also suggested that I should first smoke this pipe and if the draw is smooth, even and full, funneling the tenon may not be necessary.

I dry tested the draw and found it to be smooth even and full without any whistling sounds. Thus, I can safely expect that the pipe should be a good smoker. I shall eventually get around to enjoying my first smoke in this beauty, but for now, the confidence that this one will be good smoke has me satisfied.

Truth be told, this project was completed by 16 October 2019, however, thereafter I proceeded on leave for my home and got around to complete the write up only after rejoining from leave.

I earnestly thank all the readers for sparing their valuable time in following this write up and hope to learn from your comments on this post.

Redemption of a BBB Own Make 693 Canadian with a Saddle Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

I recently rebuilt a stem for a friend, Stephen who has a similar love for BBB pipes as I do. It was a beautiful little Liverpool pipe and the stem had a large chunk out of the underside of the button. I am still working on my experiment of rebuilding chipped stems with black super glue and charcoal powder. I say experiment because I have found that though I can get the match to work well and the shape also easy to achieve, I am not sure of the durability of the repair. The flexibility of the repair vs. that of the reset of the vulcanite is very different so the jury is still out on the long term viability of the repair. Because of that we made a deal and Stephen joined the experimental pool with me. Here is the blog post on the restoration and repair of his BBB pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/09/09/restoring-repairing-a-chipped-stem-on-a-bbb-own-make-607-liverpool/). He received the repaired pipe and was thrilled with it. He wanted to gift me a BBB Own Make pipe that he had that was just too big for his style of pipe smoking. It was missing the BBB brass diamond logo on the stem top but I was looking forward to restoring it and seeing if I could find a replacement for the brass emblem.

When I returned from my recent trip to Alberta the pipe was waiting for me. It had some beautiful grain around the bowl and shank. There were two fills on the right side of the bowl that were solid. The rim top had a bit of lava on the flat surface but the edges were in great condition. The bowl had a thin cake on the walls and the pipe was very dirty. The finish was dirty and dull. There was a thin silver band on the shank end that bore the BBB logo on the top with the words Sterling Silver engraved on the band so it was original and not a repair band. The stem was a vulcanite saddle stem with an inset area on the top side which had originally held brass logo that had been lost. The stem had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button. The edges of the button were worn. I took a close up photo of the rim top and the stem to give a better picture of the issues that I needed to deal with in the restoration. You can see the darkening on the rear of the rim top and some damage on the inner edges of the back of the bowl. The cake on the sides of the bowl was not thick but it was hard and uneven. The stem was another story. The topside had a lot of scratches and marks around where the BBB brass diamond had been. The button was very thin on the top side both in terms of width and height. Both of the sides showed tooth marks and chatter quite prominently and would need work.I took photos of the stamping on the shank. I took a photo of the topside and you can see the BBB Diamond with Own Make flanking it on each side. The stamping on the underside read London, England over the shape number 693. You can see the nice grain on the bowl and shank sides. It is going to be a beautiful pipe once it is cleaned and restored.I reamed the thin cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove the buildup on the bowl walls. I sanded the inside of the bowl with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel.  Once the inside of the bowl was clean I was ready to clean out the airway in the stem, shank and mortise. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners, and cotton swabs. It did not take too long to clean out the debris in the airways and mortise.I decided to start my clean up on the bowl. I scrubbed the bowl down with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Briar Cleaner. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar, and as Mark wrote me it lifted the grime and dirt out of the briar. I rinsed the cleaner off the bowl with warm running water and dried it with a soft cloth. The photos below show the cleaned briar… Look at the grain on that pipe! I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I continue to use Mark Hoover’s Balm on every pipe I have been working on. The grain on the Own Make is quite stunning and it just pops now with the cleanup! It is a beauty. I polished the silver band with a jeweler’s cloth to remove the tarnish that had built up on the surface. It  polished up really well. The polished and cleaned pipe are beginning to look really good.With the cleaning and restoration of the bowl finished for now I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. The photos below show the replacement of the Brass BBB Diamond on the top of the saddle stem. I had a broken BBB Canadian stem that had a Brass Diamond that would work well to replace the missing one on this stem. I used a dental pick to lift the brass piece off of the old stem.I used the dental pick to place some black super glue on the inset of the stem. I wiped it off the pick and then used it to place and align the brass diamond. I pressed it into the inset area with the flat edge of the pick. I set the stem aside to let the glue cure.I used a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth out the high spots of vulcanite that were there from the original pressing of the hot brass into the top of the saddle stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter at the same time. I reshaped the button edges. I started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.  Thanks to Stephen I have a beautiful BBB Own Make Canadian in my collection of BBB pipes today. I was able to replace the missing brass logo on the stem surface. I smoothed out the surface of the vulcanite around the insert logo and polished the stem. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the minute scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. 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. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain on and around the bowl looked really good with the polished black vulcanite. This BBB Own Make 693 Canadian was another fun pipe to work on. It really has a look that I have come to expect from BBB pipes. It is really eye catching. The combination of various brown stains really makes the pipe look attractive. It is a comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I look forward to loading up a bowl in this one and enjoying it. I am also looking forward to what Stephen thinks of the finished pipe. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

A Simple Restoration of a BBB “Natural Grain” # 11


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

My pipe cleaning factory back home is churning out pipes galore and these cleaned pipes once they reach me are being liked by people who see them and sales are also improving, though restricted only to local customer, yes, you read it right, without an ‘s’, as only one colleague has been motivated to take up enjoying a pipe!! I am sure more will follow. Those readers who have been following my work on rebornpipes.com are well aware that here in India, pipe smoking culture died its natural death in 1970’s when old pipe shops and tobacconists were pushed out of business by cigarette manufacturers and people got used to the convenience of a ready-to-smoke cigarette. And to add to our woes, there is a ban on importing tobacco!! Well, wish me luck that I am able to revive this culture back here again…

Well, the fourth pipe selected by my colleague from the heap of cleaned up pipes that Abha had sent me, is a well-made British pipe. It’s a classic straight Billiards with tapered stem BBB pipe in a smooth finish. It has nice Bird’s eye grain on either sides of the stummel with tightly packed cross grains to the front, back and on the shank. The pipe is stamped on the left of the shank as “BBB” in a diamond box, in block letters over “NATURAL GRAIN” split on either side of the diamond box. On the right of the shank, close to the bowl end it is stamped with the numeral “11” probably a shape code. The tapered vulcanite stem with an aluminum stinger has the trademark stamp of BBB in a diamond box. However, the stem logo is not a brass logo, pointing to the later/ newer era pipe. The COM stamp is conspicuous by its absence. The stampings are all crisp and prominent. Having a few BBB pipes in my personal collection that once belonged to my grandfather and having a few friends like Steve and Victor Naddeo who collect BBB pipes, the information readily available was sufficient to date this pipe. From discussions with these stalwarts and comparing it with BBBs from my inheritance, it is evident that this pipe is definitely from a newer era, probably 1980s, the dead giveaway being the lack of brass diamond roundel for the stem logo, presence of an aluminum stinger and the grading of Natural Grain!!

With this information, I move ahead with my initial visual inspection.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in a very decent state, to say the least. It was only smoked a couple of times and a thin even layer of cake build up is observed in the chamber. The rim top is covered in places with specs of overflow of lava. Otherwise, the rim top surface and both inner and outer rim edges are in pristine condition.The smooth stummel surface has beautiful Bird’s eye grain patterns on either sides of the stummel with beautiful densely packed cross grains on the front, back and the shank. The bottom surface of the stummel is flattened, making it a sitter. The stummel surface has a natural finish of the briar and the grains should pop out after a nice polish. The mortise with shank internals is relatively clean and the chamber is odorless. The draught hole is at the bottom center and should be a great smoker!! Reclaiming this piece of briar should be an easy chore. The tapered vulcanite stem is clean with very little signs of oxidation seen in the bite zone on either surfaces of the stem. The tenon end along with the detachable aluminum stinger is also clean. The slot does not show any signs of accumulated dried gunk. Air flow through the stem air way is full and free. A couple of pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol should freshen up the stem internals.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE……
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. A clean pipe also helps in clearly identifying the work that would be required to restore a pipe. The pictures shows the condition of the pipe when it reached me after being cleaned. The chamber is odorless and the walls are solid without any signs of damage. The smooth rim top surface and the inner and outer rim edge are in perfect condition. The mortise and shank internals are also nice and clean now. The seating of the stem tenon into the mortise is snug and sits flush with the shank end. I had noticed a darkened spot on the right side of the shank near and below the stamped numeral 11 (marked in yellow arrow). On close scrutiny, I feel that this spot is not a fill but a minor flaw in the briar since a gentle probing with a sharp dental tool revealed a solid surface. I have decided to let it be. The rest of the stummel surface is sans any fills or flaws. A nice polish and the beautiful grains will pop out and will be on display in all their glory. As the stamping suggests, this is a pipe with natural finish to the briar and I have no intentions to change this!!! I think as the pipe is smoked, over a period of time, the briar will take on some nice dark coloration and patina. I am really looking forward to see the stummel after polish. The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been removed, thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha. The slot and stem internals are all clean and fresh. The aluminum stinger too is nice and clean. A bit of sanding to remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. THE PROCESS
I start this restoration by sanding the entire stummel surface, including the rim top, with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helps in addressing all the minor dents, if any, from the surface while providing a smooth surface for the next stage which is polishing cycle using complete set of micromesh pads. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. I showed the stummel to the new owner and discussed if he wanted me to stain the stummel or preferred it the way it appeared at this stage. I took this opportunity to explain to him that the stummel would darken as he smoked taking on a beautiful dark patina with time and usage. He liked the pipe without stain and thankfully, that’s how it shall remain. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to 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 darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Now that the stummel was nearly complete, I turned my attention to the stem. Since there was no damage to the stem and Abha had done a wonderful job of removing the oxidation from the stem surface, I straight up proceed with sanding the stem surface using 400, 600, 800, 1000 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool and also sharpened the button edges while sanding. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. 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.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 2400 girt micromesh pads. Continuing with my experimentations that I had spelled out in my previous posts, I mount a cotton buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and polish the stem with Red Rouge polish as I had read that this polish has grit between 2400 to 3200 grit pads of the micromesh pads. Further, I mount a fresh buffing wheel on the rotary tool and polish the stem with White Diamond polish as it has grit equivalent to 3800- 4000 of micromesh pads. I finish the stem polish by wet sanding with 6000 to 12000 grit pads of the micromesh. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem looks nice and shinning black. I am really happy with this process of stem polishing as the results are excellent while saving me huge amounts of time and effort. To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give 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 looks beautiful and is ready to be handed over to the new piper. Hope he enjoys his leisure time with this beautiful and gorgeous looking pipe, smoking his favorite tobacco!! P.S. This is the last of the four pipes that was selected by this gentleman to carry forward the trust posed in the pipe by the previous piper and I am sure that this pipe will provide the new piper many years of happy smokes and will remind him of our association. This was also the most difficult of all the four pipes to let go!! Such is the beauty of this pipe.

Thanks to all readers of Reborn pipes who have spared a moment of their invaluable time in reading through this write up and as is always, your suggestions and advice are always welcome as this would not only help me but also help the new pursuers of this art.