Tag Archives: Bertram Pipe Shop Washington DC

Beautification for an American Made Bertram Washington DC Grade 25 Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. We picked up over 120+ Bertram pipes from an estate that a fellow on the east coast of the US was selling. This next one is from that estate – a beautifully grained Bertram Apple Grade 25 with a tapered vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the lower left side near the shank junction with the stem and reads 25. Higher up on the left side it is stamped Bertram [over] Washington D.C. centered on the shank. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. There are also some nicks on the backside of the bowl toward the back top. The bowl was caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim, heavier toward the back of the bowl. The edges looked okay other than some potential burn damage on the back inner edge. The stem was lightly oxidized, dirty and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. Like the rest of the Bertrams in this lot the pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.          He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the rim top. The lava was thicker toward the back of the rim and there were remnants of tobacco on the walls of the thickly caked bowl. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.   He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The grade number is 25.     As I have worked on Bertram pipes I have written on the brand and have included the following information. If you have read it in past blogs, you can skip over it. If you have not, I have included the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them take some time to read the background. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. Bertram graded their pipes by 10s and sometimes with a 5 added (15, 25, 55 etc.), the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I have worked on one 120 Grade billiard. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/). I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I learned that all of these Bertrams were made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Straight Apple has a stunning a mix of grain around the bowl. This pipe has a 25 Grade stamp on it which I am sure explains the quality of the briar. But like many of these Bertrams the Grading system is a mystery to me.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.   The rim top had some slight darkening on the back of the bowl but otherwise looked very good. The inner edge of the rim looked very good with no damage. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. The Bertram Washington DC is toward the top of the left side mid shank. On the underside of the shank is stamped the Grade 25 number.  I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered. I started my work on the pipe by polishing the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.   I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. It was in very good condition so 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 Bertram Washington DC Grade 25 Apple with a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. 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 Bertram 25 Apple 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: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 35g/1.23oz. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Yes indeed another Bertram Washington DC Pipe – a Grade 20 Lovat


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. We picked up over 120 Bertram pipes from an estate that a fellow on the east coast of the US was selling. The post card below was sent to me by one of the readers of the blog. It is a nice memento of the old shop. I thank him for thinking of us.This next one is from that estate – a beautifully grained large bowl Lovat Grade 20 Bertram with a vulcanite saddle stem. The pipe is stamped on the top side and reads Bertram [over] Washington D.C. centered on the shank. On the underside of the shank is the Grade 20 number. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim, heavier toward the back of the bowl. The rim top had a slight crown that gave it a unique look. The edges looked okay other than some potential burn damage on the back inner edge. The stem was lightly oxidized, dirty and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. Like the rest of the Bertrams in this lot the pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the rim top. The lava was thicker toward the back of the rim and there were remnants of tobacco on the walls of the thickly caked bowl. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.   He took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The grade number is 20.  You can also see the scratch on the side of the shank.As I have worked on Bertrams I have written on the brand and have included the following information. If you have read it in past blogs, you can skip over it. If you have not, I have included the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them take some time to read the background. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. Bertram graded their pipes by 10s and sometimes with a 5 added (15, 25, 55 etc.), the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I have worked on one 120 Grade billiard. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/).

I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I learned that all of these Bertrams were made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram large bowl Lovat has a stunning a mix of grain around the bowl. This pipe has a 20 Grade stamp on it which I am sure explains the quality of the briar. There are fills in the shank and at the bowl/shank junction. But like many of these Bertrams the Grading system is a mystery to me.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. The crowned rim top cleaned up very well. The fills in the briar are visible but are solid and well blended. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The crowned rim top looked very good. The inner edge of the rim also looked surprisingly good. There was no damage to the edges. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took photos of the stamping on the shank. The Bertram Washington DC is on the  left side mid shank. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with the Grade 20 number.  I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is a saddle style with a flared button.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it 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 Bertram Washington DC Grade 20 Large Bowl Lovat with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. 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 Bertram 20 Lovat 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 ¼ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ 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. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Life for an American Made Pipe – A Bertram Washington DC 60 Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. We picked up over 120 Bertram pipes from an estate that a fellow on the east coast of the US was selling. This next one is from that estate – a beautifully grained short Canadian 60 Grade Bertram with a tapered vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side with the Grade 60 number and on the top of the shank it is stamped Bertram [over] Washington D.C. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was thickly caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim. The edges looked to be in good condition. The stem was oxidized, calcified, dirty and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.  He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean.     Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.  He took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. As I have worked on Bertrams I have written on the brand and have included the following information. If you have read it in past blogs, you can skip over it. If you have not, I have included the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them take some time to read the background. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. Bertram graded their pipes by 10s and sometimes with a 5 added (15, 25, 55 etc.), the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I have worked on one 120 Grade billiard. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/).

I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I learned that all of these Bertrams were made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Pot with stunning grain has no fills around the bowl or shank. This pipe has a 60 Grade stamp on it which I am sure explains the quality of the briar.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.  The rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The inner and outer edge of the rim looked good. There was a little darkening on the back inner edge of the rim.  The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.    I took photos of the stamping on the shank. The Bertram Washington DC is on the left side of the shank toward the top. Lower on the shank it is stamped with the Grade 60 number.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered and narrow.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I cleaned up the darkened inner edge on the back side of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper.    I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.    I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.     I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. I was able to lift the majority of them. There were a few remaining tooth marks next to the button. I filled them in with clear super glue. Once the repair cured I smoothed it out with a needle file. I finished shaping it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it into the button and sharpen the edge.    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 Bertram Washingto DC 60 Canadian with a vulcanite stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. 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 Bertram 60 Canadian 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 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ 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. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

 

Refurbishing a Second Bertram From the Lot Of 13 – a Bent Egg # 25


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Last year while on a Face Time chat with my Guru, Mentor and friend, Steve Laug, we got talking about the Bertram lot that he had been working on at that point in time. He spoke about how overwhelming it was just to look at the large lot of about 200 plus pipes that he and Jeff had acquired. Never to miss an opportunity to add to my meager pipe lot that was available for me to work on, I suggested that if it was okay with him I would be more than willing to take a few of them off his hands. We worked out the details and soon a job lot of 12 pipes traveled all the way from US to Canada and then on to India!! That was one long journey undertaken by this lot of Bertram pipes. Here is the lot of Bertram pipes that I received. This lot contained a variety of nicely shaped and grained pipes which I had been looking forward to work on.The second pipe that I decided to work on from this lot is a Full Bent Egg shaped pipe, marked in green arrow, with swirls to the front and cross grains to the sides and over the shank surfaces. This pipe is stamped on the left shank surface as “Bertram” in running hand over “WASHINGTON D C” in block letters in a straight line. The grade code “25” is stamped on the bottom surface at the shank end. The stampings are slightly worn out but still readable by naked eye. The bent vulcanite saddle stem is sans any stamping. The size and feel of the pipe is solid in hand. This pipe has been well researched and chronicled by Steve when he worked on many of the Bertram pipes in his possession and thus, shall not waste time in proverbial “reinventing the wheel”. Interested readers may like to follow the link given below to get to know the brand better. https://rebornpipes.com/2019/04/10/the-4th-of-a-collection-of-bertrams-a-bertram-dublin-70s/

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
This pipe has a compact bowl size that narrows slightly towards the rim with a sharply raked round shank and a bent saddle stem that lends itself nicely to clenching. The stummel boasts of some beautiful cross grains to the sides and all around the shank. The stummel is covered in dirt and dust. The entire stummel is peppered with a number of fills, both large and small. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber and some damage is likely to the back of the rim top surface. The stem is lightly oxidized with tooth chatter in the bite zone. The pipe, as it sits on my work table, presents an encouraging picture. DETAILED INSPECTION OF THE PIPE AND OBSERVATIONS
The chamber has a slight taper towards the rim top and a chamber depth of about 1 ¼ inches. The outer edge of the rim towards the shank is slightly flattened while the rest of it is perfectly rounded. The chamber has an even layer of thick hard cake with remnants of un-burnt tobacco seen at the heel of the chamber. The rim surface has light traces of lava overflow over the rim surface. Through this layer of lava, a few dings can be seen over the rim top surface. The outer rim edge is sans any damage. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The ghost smells in the chamber are not very strong. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. The ghost smells should reduce once the cake from the chamber is removed and the shank has been cleaned. The smooth stummel surface is covered in dust and grime through which one can make out the beautiful cross grains over the sides of the bowl and shank. The stummel surface is shows a couple of large and small fills. These fills stand out like flesh wounds against the briar surface. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry. Thorough cleaning and rising of the stummel under warm water should loosen old fills while also serving to highlight the grain patterns. Once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned, these fills will be more apparent and I intend to refresh only those fills which have loosened out with a fresh fill of briar dust and superglue. Micromesh polishing will help in blending these fills while imparting a nice shine to the briar. The mortise has a reservoir at the bottom that has accumulated oils, tars and gunk. The walls of the shank are filthy and covered in grime and dust. The mortise appears to be clogged as a pipe cleaner did not easily pass through it. I have worked on many Pete System pipes and cleaning the sump had always been a chore. Fervently hoping that is not the case this time around! The fit of the stem in to the mortise is slightly tight. However, once the shank walls are cleaned, this issue should be resolved.The high quality vulcanite saddle stem is lightly oxidized. Some minor tooth chatter and calcified deposit is seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone and at the bottom of the button edge respectively. The tenon has accumulated ash and oils/ tars that have dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has scratch marks which will have to be addressed. The tooth chatter and the calcified deposits will be removed by sanding with a piece of 220 grit sand paper.THE PROCESS
I started the restoration of this pipe by first cleaning the internals of the stem with bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I scraped out the dried oils and tars from the tenon end with my fabricated knife and also removed the dried oils and tars from the slot end. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the surface oxidation. It has been our (Abha, my wife and self) experience that sanding a stem before dunking it in to the deoxidizer solution helps in bringing the deep seated oxidation to the surface which in turn make further cleaning a breeze with fantastic result.I dropped the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface, making its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding helps to draw out the complete oxidation as the sanding opens up the stem surface that has been initially covered with oxidation. I usually dunk stems of 4-5 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in pastel blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight to do its work.While the stem was soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 2 Castleford 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. And it was at this stage that I got the first (and hopefully the last) inkling of the likely damage to the heel of the chamber. The mortise and draught hole had been over zealously cleaned with pipe cleaners/ shank brush by the previous piper and which had resulted in a deep trough from the draught hole to the center of the heel with raised edges on the sides. This trough is indicated with red arrows. If or not the damage has extended to the foot of the stummel will be confirmed once the stummel surface has been cleaned. The chamber walls, inner and outer rim edges are pristine and without any damage. I followed up the reaming with cleaning the mortise using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my fabricated knife to remove the dried oils and tars. The ghost smells have been eliminated and the chamber smells clean.With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Briar Cleaner, a product that has been developed by Mark Hoover, to scrub the stummel and rim top. I set the stummel aside for 10 minutes for the product to draw out all the grime from the briar surface. After 10 minutes, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean. I 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. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely and the beautiful grain patterns are now on full display. The fills, even the smallest ones, are now clearly discernible. I probed each fill with a sharp dental tool to check for solidity and thankfully, each fill was nice and solid without any give, save for the fills at the foot of the stummel. I took a closer look at the foot of the stummel and the worst of my fears was staring right back at me with a smile!!! There is a small smiley crack right in the centre of the foot. Truth be told, looking at the heel, I had inkling that the foot may have some such damage, but now to be sure that the damage does exist, is painful. Desperately seeking some positives, I was relieved to note that the damage has not progressed to an extent that would be termed as a burnout. I did the tap test over and around the damaged foot (with the back of a spoon or any hard instrument gently tap the damaged area) and was relieved to hear a crisp sharp note signifying that nothing is lost. The briar around still feels solid over and around the damaged foot. The pipe still has many years of life left in it and with the repairs that I plan, this will last even longer. I plan to drill a counter hole at either ends of the crack and seal it with briar dust and super glue. This will prevent further spread of the crack in either direction. The trough formed at the heel of the chamber will be spot filled with J B Weld which will prevent the burning tobacco from coming in to direct contact with the now weak spot in the heal.While the stummel was drying, the next morning, Abha removed the stem that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. 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. There is a need to further sand the stem to completely remove the oxidation.My significant half, Abha, used a 220 grit sand paper to sand the stem and remove all the oxidation that was raised to the surface. This step further reduced the tooth chatter and bite marks present on the stem. She wiped the stem with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. This helps in cleaning the stem surface while removing the loosened oxidation. As is the norm, whenever she works on a pipe, taking pictures NEVER EVER crosses her otherwise sharp mind!!! No exceptions here…

To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, she polished it by wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers followed by further wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. She wiped the stem with a moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below. I checked the fit of the stem in to the mortise of the stummel and realized that the fit is very loose. This may happen when the mortise has been cleaned of the entire accumulated gunk and the briar has dried out completely. I shall address this issue by moistening the mortise with water and if that does not work, I shall use more invasive methods. RESTORATION ON THIS PIPE WAS PUT ON HOLD AS ALL THE NECESSARY TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT REQUIRED FOR FURTHER REPAIRS ARE AT MY PLACE OF WORK AND I WAS ON LEAVE INITIALLY AND THEREAFTER IN A NATION WIDE LOCKDOWN TO CONTAIN THE SPREAD OF THE DEADLY CORONA VIRUS!!!

PART II
Finally back at my work place…… After enjoying a compulsorily extended leave of three months with family and having honed my culinary and domestic chores skill set, I was happy to rejoin my duty and get back to completing the pending pipe restorations. The first in line was this Bertram Bent Egg # 25.

I decided to address the crack to the foot of the stummel. I marked the end points of the crack on either ends with a sharp dental tool under magnification. This helps to identify these end points later with naked eye and also provides initial traction for the drill bit to bite in. With a 1 mm drill bit mounted on to my hand held rotary machine, I drilled a hole each on either ends of the crack, taking care not to go too deep and end up drilling a through-hole.Simultaneously, I gouged out a few old fills that had loosened out from the foot of the stummel. I cleaned the stummel with isopropyl alcohol and cotton swab as I prepared the surface for the fill.I filled the gouges and the drilled holes with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust and set the stummel aside for the fill to cure. A few hours later, the fills had hardened completely. I sand them down with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel. I fine tuned the match with the rest of the surface by further sanding with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I shall decide to stain the stummel or otherwise after I have finished with the polishing with micromesh pads.I evened out the dents and dings from the rim top surface by sanding it with a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. It was a tricky job since the rim top surface is not flat but slopes outwards from the inner to the outer edge. This peculiar shape ruled out topping the rim top. Now that the external repairs are done, I decided to address the trough that was formed at the heel of the chamber. To protect the heel from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco and also to prevent the heat from reaching the foot of the stummel causing a burnout, I plan, firstly, to coat only the heel of the chamber with J B Weld followed by a second coat of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber which would assist in faster cake formation. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld that consists of two parts; hardener and steel which are mixed in equal parts in a ratio of 1:1 with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix, as evenly as possible, over the intended areas. I worked fast to ensure a complete and even coating of the trough in the heel and set the stummel aside for the J B Weld to harden.By the next afternoon when I got back to working on this pipe, the J B Weld coat had completely cured and hardened considerably. With a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I tried to sand the weld coating to a smooth surface. However, I could not sand the Weld as there was no space for maneuvering my finger with the sand paper. I decided to use a conical grinding stone which I had received along with my DIY hand held rotary tool kit and accessories. I mounted the conical grinding stone on to the rotary tool, set the speed at its lowest RPM and sanded the J B Weld coat till I had as thin a coat as was essential to protect and insulate the heel from the direct heat of the burning tobacco. I did not apply any downward pressure while sanding and let the rotary tool use the motor rpm to sand the weld to desired thickness.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 really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grains and the clean lines of this piece of briar are worthy of appreciation. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep 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 grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The dark browns of the bird’s eye and cross grains spread across the stummel makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar. With the stummel rejuvenation almost complete, save for the final wax polish, I worked the stem. I moistened the shank with a q-tip dipped in water. I checked the seating of the tenon in to the mortise after an hour. It was still very loose. This called for stretching the tenon to improve the seating of the stem in to the shank. I selected a drill bit that was slightly larger in diameter than the tenon air hole. I heated the tenon with the flame of a lighter till it was slightly pliable and inserted the back of the drill bit in to the opening to enlarge it. I cooled the tenon under cold running water to set the increased diameter of the tenon. I checked the fit and it was much better, though not very snug. I remedied this issue by applying a coat of clear nail polish and set it aside for the nail polish to dry out. Now that the cosmetic aspects of this pipe have dealt with, all that remained was the functional aspect that needs to be taken care of. The J B Weld coated surface needs to be protected from the direct heat of the burning tobacco and for this; I coat the complete chamber walls with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt and set it aside to harden naturally. The mix has to be of the right consistency; neither too thick nor too runny. It should be of a consistency that is thick enough to spread easily, evenly and stick to the walls. Also the coating should not be very thick. A thin film is all that is required. Another important aspect to remember is that it is essential to insert a pipe cleaner in to the mortise and through the draught hole for two reasons; first is obviously to keep the draught hole from getting clogged and secondly, the pipe cleaner absorbs all the moisture from the mix and helps in faster and even drying of the coat.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to 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 mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The grains on this finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the size, heft and the hand feel, makes it quite a desirable pipe. If you are interested to enjoy this pipe for years to come, please let Steve know and we shall make arrangements for it to reach you. P.S. In one of my previous write up, a question “Why do I enjoy bringing these old battered and discarded pipes back to life?” had popped up in my mind. I had given my second reason in my last write up and in all my subsequent write ups I intend to share with the readers my reasons as to why I really love this hobby.

The third reason is that every pipe has a HISTORY attached to it. That history, in part, is about the maker/ carver of the pipe and the other part is the person who had posed faith in this piece of briar during his life time. Take the case of a Dunhill pipe that I had restored that once belonged to Late Mr. John Barber, an explorer who had been to Arctic and the Antarctic in the 1950s- 60s and an avid pipe smoker! His favored pipes were DUNHILL. His daughter, Farida had passed on his pipes to Steve to restore and trade these pipes for the family. Well, one of the Dunhill pipes was sent to me by Steve to let me test my skills in pipe restoration with the rider that “if I could restore it, I get to keep it!” This pipe had all the challenges that a pipe restorer usually faces while restoring a pipe and then some more. However, it was successfully repaired and restored and now is a part of my daily rotation (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/12/06/a-project-close-to-my-heart-restoring-a-dunhill-from-faridas-dads-collection/)

The point I want to convey is that whenever I smoke this pipe, it reminds me of Late Mr. John Barber and images of him smoking this pipe in the cold snow desert and the warmth, peace and comfort it must have provided him in that desolate environment…AND NOW I GET TO BE A PART OF THAT HISTORY/ LEGACY OF THE PIPE and this is what I just love!

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is in my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

Refurbishing a Bertram Lovat # 25 Pipe From a Lot of 13 Bertrams


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Last year while on a Face Time chat with my Guru, Mentor and friend, Steve Laug, we got talking about the Bertram lot that he had been working on at that point in time. He spoke about how overwhelming it was just to look at the large lot of about 200 plus pipes that he and Jeff had acquired. Never to miss an opportunity to add to my meager pipe lot that was available for me to work on, I suggested that if it was okay with him I would be more than willing to take a few of them off his hands. We worked out the details and soon a job lot of 12 pipes traveled all the way from US to Canada and then on to India!!! That was one long journey undertaken by this lot of Bertram pipes. Here is the lot of Bertram pipes that I received. This lot contained a variety of nicely shaped and grained pipes which I had been looking forward to work on. Here is the picture of the Bertram lot as it came to me.The first pipe that I decided to work on from this lot is a classic Lovat, marked in yellow arrow, with beautiful loosely packed bird’s eyes to the sides of the stummel and cross grains to the front, back and over the shank surfaces. This pipe is stamped on the left shank surface as “Bertram” in running hand over “WASHINGTON D.C” in block capital letters, font size reducing from left to right. The grade code “25” is stamped below the letter W. The stampings are all crisp and deep. The short vulcanite saddle stem is sans any stampings. The size and feel of the pipe is solid in hand. This pipe has been well researched and chronicled by Steve when he worked on many of the Bertram pipes in his possession and thus, shall not waste time in proverbial “reinventing the wheel”. Interested readers may like to follow the link given below to get to know the brand better (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/04/10/the-4th-of-a-collection-of-bertrams-a-bertram-dublin-70s/).

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has a decent medium bowl size with a longish round shank and short saddle stem rendering it a classic Lovat shape. The stummel boasts of some beautiful cross grains to the front and back of the bowl and all around the shank. The stummel is covered in dirt and grime of the overflowed lava. The entire stummel is peppered with a number of fills, both large and small. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber and some damage is likely to the back of the rim top surface. The stem is lightly oxidized with no bite marks to the button edge or tooth chatter in the bite zone. The pipe appears as it sits on my work table presents an encouraging picture. Detailed Inspection Of The Pipe And Observations
The bowl appears round with a wide rim and a depth of about 2 ¼ inches. The draught hole is in the center and at the bottom of the chamber. The chamber has an even layer of thick hard cake with remnants of un-burnt tobacco seen at the heel of the chamber. A fill (?) can be seen to the left in the 8 o’clock direction (indicated with a yellow arrow) over the smooth rim top surface. The rim surface is covered with lava overflow and has max accumulation in the 6 o’clock direction. Through this layer of lava, a few dings can be seen over the rim top surface. The inner rim edge in the 6 o’clock direction appears dark and worn out. The outer rim edge is sans any damage. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. There is a sweet smell in the chamber which is not very strong.  The suspected fill over the rim top surface appears just that…. A fill! However, once the lava overflow from the rim top is removed that can I say, with any certainty, if it is a crack or otherwise. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. The dark inner rim edge, in the 6 o’clock direction, may be charred further than anticipated and the same will be confirmed after the surface has been thoroughly cleaned. I need to resort to topping the rim top in order to address the damage to the surface. The ghost smells should reduce once the cake from the chamber is removed and the shank has been cleaned. The smooth stummel surface is covered in dust and grime through which one can make out the beautiful cross grains to the front and back of the bowl and shank. The stummel surface is peppered with numerous small fills. These fills stand out like flesh wounds against the briar surface. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry. Once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned, these fills will be more apparent. I intend to refresh only those fills which have loosened out with a fresh fill of briar dust and superglue. Thorough cleaning and rising of the stummel under warm water should loosen old fills while also serving to highlight the grain patterns. Micromesh polishing will help in blending these fills while imparting a nice shine to the briar.   The mortise shows accumulation of oils, tars and gunk and the air flow is not full and smooth. The shank end rim surface has a chipped edge which is encircled in red. Along with the rim top fill/ chipped surface, I shall fill this gouge with briar dust and superglue mix. The high quality vulcanite saddle stem is lightly oxidized. Some minor tooth chatter and calcified deposit is seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone and at the bottom of the button edge respectively. The tenon has accumulated ash and oils/ tars that have dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has scratch marks which will have to be addressed. The tooth chatter and the calcified deposits will be removed by sanding with a piece of 220 grit sand paper.     The Process
I started the restoration of this pipe by first cleaning the internals of the stem with bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I scraped out the dried oils and tars from the tenon end with my fabricated knife and also removed the dried oils and tars from the slot end. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the surface oxidation. It has been our (Abha, my wife and self) experience that sanding a stem before dunking it in to the deoxidizer solution helps in bringing the deep seated oxidation to the surface which in turn make further cleaning a breeze with fantastic result.I dropped the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface, making its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding helps to draw out the complete oxidation as the sanding opens up the stem surface that has been initially covered with oxidation. I usually dunk stems of 4-5 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in green arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight to do its work.While the stem was soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 2 followed by size 3 Castleford 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, especially from the area in the 6 ‘O’ clock direction. 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 chamber walls are pristine without any damage. Thankfully the inner rim was not charred under the lava overflow. The ghost smells are negligible and should further reduce after the shank/ mortise are thoroughly cleaned. The scraping of lava from the rim top has confirmed that the damage on the left side is indeed a fill and it would need to be refreshed. I followed up the reaming with cleaning the mortise using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my fabricated knife to remove the dried oils and tars. The ghost smells are history and the chamber now smells clean.   With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Briar Cleaner, a product that has been developed by Mark Hoover, to scrub the stummel and rim top. I set the stummel aside for 10 minutes for the product to draw out all the grime from the briar surface. After 10 minutes, 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. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely and the beautiful grain patterns are now on full display. The fills, even the smallest ones, are now clearly discernible. I probed each fill with a sharp dental tool to check for solidity and thankfully, each fill was nice and solid without any give. While the stummel was drying, the next morning, Abha removed the stem that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. 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. I need to further sand the stem to completely remove the oxidation.    My significant half, Abha, used a 220 grit sand paper to sand the stem and remove all the oxidation that was raised to the surface. This step further reduced the tooth chatter and bite marks present on the stem. She wiped the stem with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. This helps in cleaning the stem surface while removing the loosened oxidation. As is the norm, whenever she works on a pipe, taking pictures NEVER EVER crosses her otherwise sharp mind!! No exceptions here…

While Abha was working on the stem, I worked on the stummel. It was time to address the fill over the rim top and the gouge over the shank end surface. I filled both these gouges with a mix of briar dust and superglue. I always use the layering method for such repairs (layer of glue is first applied over the target area and briar dust is pressed over the layer of glue). I repeated the process till the desired coverage and thickness was achieved. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. I shall have to be extremely careful while sanding the shank end surface as any uneveness will cause an uneven seating of the stem in to the mortise.Once the fills had cured, I topped the rim top over a piece of 220 grit sand paper till I had a smooth and even surface. With a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I carefully sand the shank end fill. With the same grit sand paper, I cleaned the bevel to the inner edge of the shank end of all the dripped mix of briar dust and glue. The reason I did not top the shank end was that any loss of briar from the shank end would result in shortening of the shank and a gap would be seen between the stem and shank end. The rim top surface and the edges look very neat at this stage. I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 2000 wet & dry sand paper and further with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grains and the clean lines of this piece of briar are worthy of appreciation.   Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep 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 grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The dark browns of the bird’s eye and cross grains spread across the stummel makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar.  With the stummel rejuvenation almost complete, save for the final wax polish, I worked the stem. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I polished the stem, wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers followed by further wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to 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. I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. 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 amazingly beautiful and coupled with the size, heft and the hand feel, makes it quite a desirable pipe. If you feel that this pipe calls out your name, please let Steve know and we shall make arrangements for it to reach you. P.S. In one of my previous write up, a question “Why do I enjoy bringing these old battered and discarded pipes back to life?” had popped up in my mind. I had given one reason in my last write up and in all my subsequent write ups I intend to share with the readers my reasons as to why I really love this hobby.

The second reason is that this pipe that is now discarded by the piper as being SPENT and has fallen out of favor, actually still has (mostly do!) potential to provide many more years of smoking pleasures to any piper. Just because it has fouled up or does not smoke as good as when it was new or has been damaged, does not mean that the piece of briar is at fault. It is just that it was not well looked after by the piper and it is he and he alone who is responsible. It provides me with immense pleasure and joy to work on such out of favor and discarded pipes and bringing them back to their real beauty and full functional potential for years ahead. I consider it my honor to work on such pipes that find their way on to my work table.

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

 

A Crowned Thick Shank Billiard 40 from the Bertram Lot


Blog by Steve Laug

Once again rather than repeat myself about the background, please refer to the previous blog posts on the collection of Bertrams and other brands that Jeff and I purchased. I can’t adequately describe how overwhelmed I am when I look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. I am glad Jeff is helping with the clean up on the lot as that would be more than I could handle by myself in moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes I chose a thick shank Billiard Bertram 40 with a crowned rim top. The grain was a mix of cross grain and birdseye. It was a Billiard with a tapered stem. The bowl had cake in the chamber that was no problem. The rim top had some darkening and lava overflow on the back side. There was a chip in the front, inner edge of the bowl and what appeared to be a burn mark on back inner edge. The outer edge of the bowl appeared to be in good condition but we would know more once the bowl had been reamed and cleaned. The exterior of the briar looked lifeless and was dusty with the grime of years of storage. The stem had some oxidation and tooth chatter near the button on both sides. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he began his cleanup work on it. Jeff took a close-up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The rim top had a coat of lava and the bowl had a thick cake. There is also an obvious nick on the front inner edge of the bowl that will need to be dealt with.Jeff took pictures of the bowl sides and the heel to show the great looking grain around the sides of the bowl. It really is quite stunning and very dirty!Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the left side of the shank. It shows the stamping which read Bertram over Washington, D.C. The stamping on this pipe is a faint on the right side of the impression. The second photo shows the number stamp 40 which shows the quality of the pipe. The number stamp is on the underside at the stem/shank junction.The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the oxidation and the chatter on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the button edge.Once again, if you have read the previous Bertram blogs I have posted about the pipes that I have cleaned up so far you can skip the next bit. But if you have not, then I include the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them do some research on them. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. They graded their pipes by 10s, the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I’ve never heard of or seen a 100 grade. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/).

I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I have learned that the shape and grade Bertram I have in front of me now was made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Thick Shank Crowned Billiard is different from the other Bertram shapes I have worked. With a grade 40 stamp it is a more of lower mid-range pipe, though I am not sure why as the briar is very clean and the grain very interesting.

By now if you have been a reader for long you have Jeff’s cleaning regimen pretty well memorized. If you know it you can skip right to the pictures. If not I will include them once more. Jeff 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. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. There was still some darkening to the rim top toward the back of the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava. The damaged area on the front inner edge and a burned area that has damaged the rear inner edge are visible. The stem photos show that the oxidation is gone. The light tooth chatter is hard to see but I should be able to sand it out quite easily. I used a drop of clear super glue to fill in the chip in the inner edge and rim top on the front of the bowl. Once the repair cured, I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repair and to cleanup the burn damage to the rear inner edge of the rim.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. The grain began to stand out. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I touched up the rim top with a Maple Stain pen to blend the repairs to the rim top and edge into the rest of the surrounding briar. It did not take much to get a good match. I will need to buff it in the final steps to get the proper look but I am liking it.I know I have mentioned it before but I really like the balm that Mark Hoover created. It really does wonders on a dry piece of briar. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish 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. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. The stem was in pretty decent condition. I polished out the light tooth chatter with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I am having fun doing these pipes from the Bertram Collection. Each one presents different challenges but all are well laid out classic shapes. This is no exception. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. This Bertram is a classic Thick Shank Crowned Billiard shape with tapered stem. The finish really highlights some amazing grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful grained Billiard. Like the other Bertrams I have worked on this one fits well in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This one will soon be on the rebornpipes store. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

 

A Bent Diamond Shank Billiard Bertram 25 from the Bertram Collection


Blog by Steve Laug

Once again rather than repeat myself with the repetition please refer to the previous blog posts on the collection of Bertrams and other brands that Jeff and I purchased. I can’t adequately describe how overwhelmed I am when I look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. I am glad Jeff is helping with the clean up on the lot as that would be more than I could handle by myself in moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes I chose a Diamond Shank Bent Billiard Bertram 25 with mixed grain to be the next pipe that I would work on. It was a1/2 bent Billiard with a saddle stem. The bowl had cake in the chamber that was no problem. The rim top had some darkening and lava overflow on the back side. The inner and outer edge of the bowl appeared to be in good condition but we would know more once the bowl had been reamed and cleaned. The exterior of the briar looked lifeless and was dusty with the grime of years of storage. I am still trying to figure out Bertrams numbering system as some of the higher number pipes seems to have more fills than the 25s. The stem had some oxidation and tooth marks near the button on both sides. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he began his cleanup work on it. Jeff took a close-up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The rim top had a thick coat of lava and the bowl had a thick cake.Jeff took pictures of he bowl sides and the heel to show the great looking grain around the sides of the bowl. It really is quite stunning and very dirty! Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the top and left side of the shank. It shows the stamping on the topside which read Bertram over Washington, D.C. The stamping on this pipe is clear and readable. It also shows the number stamp 25 which shows the quality of the pipe.The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the oxidation and the chatter on both sides near the button. The tooth marks are visible on the underside next to the button. There is also some wear on the underside button edge.If you have read the previous Bertram blogs I have posted about the pipes that I have cleaned up so far you can skip the next bit. But if you have not, then I include the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them do some research on them. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. They graded their pipes by 10s, the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I’ve never heard of or seen a 100 grade. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/).

I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I have learned that the shape and grade Bertram I have in front of me now was made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Diamond Shank Bent Billiard with a darker finish is different from the other Bertram shapes I have worked. With a grade 25 stamp it is a lower range pipe.

By now if you have been a reader for long you have Jeff’s cleaning regimen pretty well memorized. If you know it you can skip right to the pictures. If not I will include them once more. Jeff 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. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. There was still some darkening to the rim top toward the back of the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava but the rim top had some light damage, some pits and darkening on the inner edge of the rim. The stem photos show that the oxidation is gone. The light tooth chatter is hard to see but I should be able to sand it out quite easily. Every one of the pipes that I have worked on from this Bertram Collection has had tooth marks on the underside of the stem and some on the topside as well. The tooth marks on the underside will take a little more work to remove.I also took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank showing how the stamping was laid out.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to cleanup the light damage to the inner edge of the rim. I would address the darkening when I polished it with micromesh sanding pads.I used a black Sharpie pen to put a black spot in each of the fills on the bowl sides. Once I had done that I filled in the dents with clear super glue. Once the repairs had cured I sanded the repaired spots with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the briar. I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I know I have mentioned it before but I really like the balm that Mark Hoover created. It really does wonders on a dry piece of briar. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish 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. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. I set the bowl aside to work on the stem. I used a folded piece of 240 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter into the surface of the stem. Once the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I am having fun doing these pipes from the Bertram Collection. Each one presents different challenges but all are well laid out classic shapes. This is no exception. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. This Bertram is a classic Bent Billiard shape with a diamond shank and saddle stem. The stain really highlights some amazing grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful grained Billiard. Like the other Bertrams I have worked on this one fits well in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This one will soon be on the rebornpipes store. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

A Zulu Shaped Bertram 30 from the Bertram Collection


Blog by Steve Laug

Once again rather than repeat myself and give readers grief with the repetition please refer to the previous blog posts on the collection of Bertrams and a smattering of other brands that Jeff and I purchased. I can’t adequately describe the sense of being overwhelmed that I have when I look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. I am glad Jeff is helping with the clean up on the lot as that would be more than I could handle by myself in moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes I chose an interesting Zulu with cross grain on the sides of the bowl and some birdseye around the front and back to be the next pipe that I would work on. It was a1/8 bent Zulu with a tapered stem. The bowl had cake in the chamber that was no problem. The rim top had some darkening and lava overflow on the back side. The inner and outer edge of the bowl appeared to be in good condition but we would know more once the bowl had been reamed and cleaned. The exterior of the briar looked lifeless and was dusty with the grime of years of storage. I am still trying to figure out Bertrams numbering system as some of the higher number pipes seems to have more fills than the 30s. This is one of those pipes that look really good. The stem had some oxidation and tooth marks near the button on both sides. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he began his cleanup work on it. I have included them below and they tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The rim top had a thick coat of lava and the bowl had a thick cake.Jeff took pictures of he bowl sides and the heel to show the great looking grain around the sides of the bowl. It really is quite stunning and very dirty!Jeff took 2 photos to capture the stamping on the top and left side of the shank. The first photo shows stamping on the topside which read Bertram over Washington, D.C. The stamping on this pipe is clear and readable. The second photo shows the grade number stamping on the left side toward the shank/bowl junction. It read number 30 which shows the quality of the pipe. The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the oxidation and the chatter on both sides near the button. The tooth marks are visible on the underside next to the button. There is also some wear on the underside button edge. If you have read the previous Bertram blogs I have posted about the pipes that I have cleaned up so far you can skip the next bit. But if you have not, then I include the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them do some research on them. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. They graded their pipes by 10s, the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I’ve never heard of or seen a 100 grade. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/).

I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I have learned that the shape and grade Bertram I have in front of me now was made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Zulu with a darker finish is one of the more usual shapes in terms of the Bertram pipes I have worked on. With a grade 30 stamp it is a lower mid-range pipe.

By now if you have been a reader for long you have Jeff’s cleaning regimen pretty well memorized. If you know it you can skip right to the pictures. If not I will include them once more. Jeff 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. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. There was still some darkening to the rim top toward the back of the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava but the rim top had some light damage, some pits and darkening on the backside of the inner edge of the rim. The stem photos show that the oxidation is gone. The light tooth chatter is hard to see but I should be able to sand it out quite easily. Every one of the pipes that I have worked on from this Bertram Collection has had tooth marks on the underside of the stem and some on the topside as well. The tooth marks on the underside will take a little more work to remove.I also took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank showing how the stamping was laid out. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to cleanup the light damage to the inner edge of the rim. I would address the darkening when I polished it with micromesh sanding pads.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I know I have mentioned it before but I really like the balm that Mark Hoover created. It really does wonders on a dry piece of briar. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish 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. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. I set the bowl aside to work on the stem. I used a folded piece of 240 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter into the surface of the stem. Once the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I am having fun doing these pipes from the Bertram Collection. Each one presents different challenges but all are well laid out classic shapes. This is no exception. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. This Bertram is a classic Zulu or Yachtsman shape with a darker finish that really highlights some amazing grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain – cross grain and birdseye – popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful grained Zulu. Like the other Bertrams I have worked on this one fits well in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This one will soon be on the rebornpipes store. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.