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Farida’s Dad’s Pipes #2 – Restoring a 1990 LBS Classic Series Dunhill Shell Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next collection of pipes that I am working on comes from the estate of an elderly gentleman here in Vancouver. I met with his daughter Farida last summer and we looked at his pipes and talked about them then. Over the Christmas holiday she brought them by for me to work on, restore and then sell for her. There are 10 pipes in all – 7 Dunhills (one of them, a Shell Bulldog, has a burned out bowl), 2 Charatans, and a Savinelli Autograph. His pipes are worn and dirty and for some folks they have a lot of damage and wear that reduce their value. To me each one tells a story. I only wish they could speak and talk about the travels they have had with Farida’s Dad.

Dad in the Antarctic in 54/55.

In the midst of restoring this Classic Series Dunhill and thinking about its travels, Farida sent me an email with a short write up on her Dad. She remembered that I had asked her for it so that I could have a sense of the stories of her Dad’s pipes. Here is what she wrote: My dad, John Barber, loved his pipes. He was a huge fan of Dunhill and his favourite smoke was St. Bruno. No one ever complained of the smell of St. Bruno, we all loved it. I see the bowls and they’re large because he had big hands. When he was finished with his couple of puffs, he would grasp the bowl in the palm of his hand, holding the warmth as the embers faded. The rough bowled pipes were for daytime and especially if he was fixing something. The smooth bowled pipes were for an evening with a glass of brandy and a good movie. In his 20s, he was an adventurer travelling the world on ships as their radio operator. He spent a year in the Antarctic, a year in the Arctic and stopped in most ports in all the other continents. He immigrated to Canada in the mid-fifties, working on the BC Ferries earning money to pay for his education. He graduated from UBC as an engineer and spent the rest of his working life as a consultant, mostly to the mining companies. Whatever he was doing though, his pipe was always close by. 

Thanks Farida that explains a lot about their condition. If your Dad was rarely without a pipe I can certainly tell which pipes were his favourites. As I looked over the pipes I noted that each of them had extensive rim damage and some had deeply burned gouges in the rim tops. The bowls seemed to have been reamed not too long ago because they did not show the amount of cake I would have expected. The stems were all covered with deep tooth marks and chatter and were oxidized and dirty. The internals of the mortise, the airway in the shank and stem were filled with tars and oils. I took pictures of the Dunhill pipes in the collection. These were some nice looking pipes when her Dad bought them and they would be nice looking one more when I finished.

The second pipe that I am working on is a large Group 5 S Shell Billiard. I have circled in the above three photos in blue to identify it for you. It has a gold band that reads Dunhill Classic Series. It is good looking billiard. The Classic Series was produced by Dunhill in 199O as part of homage to their heritage and would make a great pipe for when you are out and about in the evening. When it was released it was a classic black Shell Briar in an equally classic shape, complete with a distinctive gold colored band. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank with the shape number LBS F/T. The first digit of the number is missing because of the sandblast, but it is a shape LBS and F/T for Fish Tail stem. Next to that it read Dunhill Shell over Made in England 30. There is a shape number after the Made in England stamping 997 (987?). Dating this pipe is a fairly easy proposition. You take the two digits following the D in England and add them to 1960. In this case it is 1960+30= 1980. (Pipephil’s site has a helpful dating tool for Dunhill pipes that I use regularly http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/shell-briar1.html).

It was in pretty rough shape. The bowl was so dirty and caked with grime that it was very hard to tell what condition it was in. The finish was dull and caked with oils in all of the grooves and valleys of the sandblast. The top of the rim was rough and the inner edge was badly damaged. There were spots on the front of the rim top and at the rear that had deep burns into the briar just like the first pipe from this estate. The briar was burned to a point where I could pick it out with my fingernail. The shank was so dirty that the stem would not properly seat in the mortise. The stem was also a little rough – tooth marks on both sides near and in the button itself. The top side the button is quite thin and worn down. There is a deep tooth mark on the underside near the button and lots of chatter on both sides. It was oxidized and there was some calcification on the first inch of the stem. I took some photos of the pipe before I started to clean it up. I took close up photos of the rim top, the gold band and the stem. You can see from the photo the thick cake I the bowl overflowing lava onto the rim top. You can also see damage to the front, inner edge of the rim and the back left inner edge. There appears to be some serious gouges in those areas and also along the entire inner edge. The amount and extent of the damage will only be clear once the bowl is reamed and cleaned. The gold band on the shank says Dunhill Classic Series and it is in excellent condition. The stem has some deep bite marks on the top edge of the button and on the underside of the stem just ahead of the button. There is a lot of calcification and wear on the rest of the stem as well. I reamed the bowl with PipNet pipe reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and working my way up the third sized head. I took the cake back to bare briar. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to finish up the reaming and also to clean up the damaged areas. They turned out to be burn damage so I scraped out the damaged briar until I got to a solid base. The bowl exterior was so encrusted in grime and oils that it was hard to see the sandblast finish. All of the grooves, nooks and crannies of the Shell finish were not visible due to the coating filling them in. I scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap under warm running water to flush away the grime as the soap loosened it from the finish. I scrubbed until the finish was clean. The draw back in this case was that it removed the black Classic stain. The good news was that I could see some amazing grain in the sandblast. I knew that restaining it would not be an issue so it was good to see what was present. The damage to the rim top and inner edge is very visible in the third photo below. The heaviest damage is to the back edge of the rim top and it extends almost to the outer edge of the rim. I had several options to consider in repairing the damage. I could top the bowl and lose the rest of the nice blast on the rim top or I could repair and buildup the rim top with briar dust and super glue. To top it would require remove a lot of briar due to the depth of the damage on the back side. I decided to go with rebuilding the rim top and edges. I layered on clear super glue and briar dust with a dental spatula on both damaged areas until I had it built up even with the rest of the rim. I rebuilt the inner edge of the rim the same way keeping the super glue out of the bowl itself. You will notice in the three pictures that follow that I don’t worry too much about the dust in the bowl as I will sand it out once the repair is hardened. I scraped out the inside of the bowl with the edge of the spatula to knock off high spots along the inside edge. I sanded the bowl with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge and to sand down the walls of the bowl. I blew out the sanding dust through the shank. I also scraped the top of the rim with the edge of the spatula and knocked off high spots. The first three photos below show the repair rim top and edge. I put a dental burr in the Dremel and copied the sandblast pattern that was on the rest of the rim onto the repaired areas. I ran the Dremel at just below the 10 marker in terms of speed and carefully etched the surface of the briar. The fourth photo shows the rim top after I had used the Dremel on it. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean up the surface of the rim and it was ready to stain. I put a cork in the bowl to hold on to and stained the entire pipe with a black aniline stain to bring it back to match the colour of the pipe in photos. I applied the stain with a dauber and flamed it. I repeated the process until the coverage was even all over the bowl. I set aside the bowl to let the stain dry overnight. In the morning I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the sandblast with my finger tips to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the wood. I buffed the pipe with a horsehair shoe shine brush to get it into the grooves of the plateau. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The pipe came alive and there was a rich shine to the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. With the bowl finished (except for buffing) I set it aside and worked on the stem. The stem was dirty and had some significant damage to the top side on the button and a large deep tooth mark on the underside. I cleaned up the damaged areas with alcohol and cotton pads. Once the areas were clean I built up the damaged areas on both sides of near the button with black super glue. I rebuilt the button on both sides as well. I set the stem aside to let the glue cure. Once the super glue patch had dried I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface of the repairs. The topside of the button was far better than when I started. The tooth mark in the underside was filled in and smoothed out. More sanding and filling to do to cover the air bubbles but it was looking good.I decided to take a break from the sanding for a bit and cleaned out the stem and the shank. I cleaned out the airway and the slot in the stem and the mortise and airway in the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I worked them over until they were clean.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped them down after each pad with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine to take out some of the tiny scratches in the vulcanite. I finished by rubbing it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond being careful to not fill the grooves in the blast with the polishing compound. I used a regular touch on the stem to polish out any remaining scratches. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the second of six Dunhill pipes that I am restoring from Farida’s Dad’s collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Farida thinks once she sees the finished pipe on the blog. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store as she wants to sell them for the estate. It should make a nice addition to a new pipeman’s rack that can carry on the trust from her father. The dimensions are; Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me it was a challenging and worthwhile pipe to work on. Cheers.

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Restoring a 1983 Dunhill Shell 41009 Oval Shank Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next collection of pipes that I am working on comes from the estate of an elderly gentleman here in Vancouver. I met with his daughter Farida last summer and we looked at his pipes and talked about them then. Over the Christmas holiday she brought them by for me to work on, restore and then sell for her. There are 10 pipes in all – 7 Dunhills (one of them, a Shell Bulldog, has a burned out bowl), 2 Charatans, and a Savinelli Autograph.  He loved his pipes and she said that he was rarely seen without a pipe in his mouth. He traveled a lot and she remembers him having one of these pipes with him in the far north of Canada. His pipes are worn and dirty and for some they have a lot of damage and wear that reduce their value. To me each one tells a story. I only wish they could speak and talk about the travels they have had with Farida’s dad. Each of them has extensive rim damage and some have deeply burned gouges in the rim tops. The bowls were actually reamed not too long ago because they do not show the amount of cake I would have expected. The stems are all covered with deep tooth marks and chatter and are oxidized and dirty. The internals of the mortise, the airway in the shank and stem are filled with tars and oils. I took pictures of the Dunhill pipes in the collection. There are some nice looking pipes in the lot. The first pipe that I am working on is a Shell Oval Pot. I have circled in the above three photos in red to identify it for you. It is an interesting shape. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank with the shape number 41009 next to Dunhill Shell over Made in England 23. Dating this pipe is a fairly easy proposition. You take the two digits following the D in England and add them to 1960. In this case it is 1960+23= 1983. (Pipephil’s site has a helpful dating tool for Dunhill pipes that I use regularly http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/shell-briar1.html). It was in pretty rough shape. The bowl itself looked good and the finish was in decent condition. The top of the rim was rough and the inner edge was badly damaged. There were spots on the front of the rim top and at the rear that had deep burns into the briar. The briar was burned to a point where I could pick it out with my fingernail. The shank was so dirty that the stem would not properly seat in the mortise. The stem was not too bad – tooth marks on the underside near the button and lots of chatter on both sides. It was lightly oxidized and there was some calcification on the first inch of the stem. I took some photos of the pipe before I started to clean it up. I took close up photos of the rim top, bowl and the stem to show the condition the pipe was in before I started my clean up. The first photo shows the damage on the top of the rim and particularly the inner edge of the bowl. You can see the damage on the front edge and the back edge of the bowl. There was some major burn damage on the inner edge of the bowl. The rim top also had some tars and lava on the surface that would need to be addressed before I could work on the burned areas. The surface of the bowl was dirty and grimy with dust and oils ground into the grooves of the sandblast. The photos show the light cake in the bowl and the dust and grime on the finish. The stem photos show the oxidation and the tooth chatter and tooth marks on the stem surface. You can also see that the stem does not seat in the shank well.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer to cut back the cake to bare briar. I finished cleaning up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I used the knife to scrape away the soft briar from the burned areas of the rim top. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean up the grooves in the good portion of the rim top. I also cleaned out the burned areas. I wiped out the burned areas with cotton swabs and alcohol to clean out the remaining dust and leave it clean. I built up both areas with briar dust and super glue. I used a dental spatula to apply the briar dust to the glue. I built it up in layers until it was level and the inner walls were round.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the bowl. I worked on it to round the edges. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to smooth out the hard spots of dried glue and dust. I used the brass bristle wire brush to clean out the grooves in the rustication on the rim top. With the rim top basically finished (other than rusticating it with a Dremel and burr) I worked on cleaning out the internals in the shank. I used a dental spatula to scrape out the hard tars and oils that had lined the walls in the mortise. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the shank was clean.I used a dental burr in my Dremel to rusticate the top of the rim. I wanted to match the repaired areas to the rest of the rim top. I slowly and carefully put divots in the surface to match the rest of the surface of the rim. I restained the rim with a dark brown aniline stain and a cotton swab to get the stain deep in the recesses of the repaired rim top.I rubbed Before & After Restoration Balm into the deep grooves and crevices of the sandblast on the rim and the rest of the bowl. I rubbed it until it was deep in the briar. It was amazing to see the grime and dirt on the cotton pad that I wiped it down with. The balm brought life and a rich glow to the briar. I rubbed the bowl down with Conservator’s Wax and buffed the pipe with a shoe brush. I took it to the buffer and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a clean microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The photos below show the repaired and restored bowl. It has come a long way from the damaged pipe I started with when I began. I laid the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned the surface with alcohol and a cotton pad and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I scrubbed until the cleaners came out white. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tooth chatter and remove the tooth marks. Fortunately they were not too deep so they came out with a little elbow grease.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped them down after each pad with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine to take out some of the tiny scratches in the vulcanite. I finished by rubbing it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond being careful to not fill the grooves in the blast with the polishing compound. I used a regular touch on the stem to polish out any remaining scratches. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the first of six Dunhill pipes that I am restoring from Farida’s dad’s collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Farida thinks once she sees the finished pipe on the blog. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store as she wants to sell them for the estate. It should make a nice addition to a new pipeman’s rack that can carry on the trust from her father. The dimensions are; Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me it was a fun pipe to work on. Cheers.

Reworking and Restemming What Looked Like a Lost Cause


Blog by Ryan Thibodeau

I have been following Ryan’s work on FaceBook’s Tobacco Pipe Restorers Group and have been impressed with his work. When he posted the work on this old Canadian stummel with a lot of issues I wrote and asked if he would be willing to post it on rebornpipes. He said sure and sent me the following write up. I am happy to welcome Ryan to the pages of the blog. It is a pleasure to have you here. Without further ado I will let Ryan introduce himself to you all. — Steve

My name is Ryan Thibodeau, I live in the Hamilton Ontario region I stumbled upon this hobby by accident. When my Father learned of my new hobby, he gave me his 1959 Dunhill shell briar pipes. They hadn’t been smoked in 38 years and needed some TLC. I had them restored and they were the first two pipes in my rack.

From there I joined various Facebook Groups and happened upon Steve’s blog “Reborn Pipes”, I was inspired immediately. Since that time I’ve been collecting tired worn out pipes and testing my ability to return them to a condition that I would be proud of. It is a wonderful hobby, that doesn’t require a lot of space to do.

Every pipe has a story! Usually the smoker who owned it, and their story, is more interesting than the pipe itself.

I purchased this pipe in a lot of 12. There were only one or two pipes in the lot that I really wanted and the price was right, so I wasn’t heartbroken if the rest came to rest in the bottom of my box of pipes. One of them came in a case that was meant for a meerschaum, and it looked decent when in the picture, but further investigation revealed a lot of issues that would need to be repaired. I started by removing the silver band, which came off without any effort and used Heirloom Stripper to remove all the dirt, grime, old finish and lift some of the stain. This allowed me to get a real good look at the damage to this pipe. Next I used my Castleford reamer to remove all the cake out of the bowl. There was very little cake lining the bowl, however; once I removed the cake I found that walls of the tobacco chamber were severely charred. I suspect this pipe was smoked very hot and the briar was charred to charcoal. I wanted to see how much of the chamber was damaged ( I prefer to ream my bowls right back to fresh briar. This way I can see if there are any heat fissures or major issues that would make a restoration go sour after the first smoke)

I removed the charred wood. The reamers will shave away the charred wood, once you feel the resistance of the blades rubbing the fresh briar you know you’ve removed the charring.I used a combination of Briar dust and CA Glue to create a patch for the gouge on the side of the bowl. Using a flat file, I filed the patch down to the profile of the pipe. Afterwards I topped the bowl to level out the rim and the patch. The bowl was also over reamed by its previous owner so I added a bevel to the inside of the bowl at the rim to blend everything in.

There was a lot of filing and sanding through this process to get it just right. Unfortunately I get hyper focused during this process and forgot to take step-by-step pictures.

The grey patches you see inside the bowl is a product called JB Weld. I mixed up a batch and filled the problem areas in the chamber, afterwards I sanded it down to blend with the rest of the chamber. In my experience the product is completely inert once cured. It is handy for a reconstruction of this kind, but I’d recommend adding a bowl coating as an added barrier.This pipe came to me without a stem. Fortunately I had a stem that would be the perfect length, I just needed to shape the tenon to fit the pipe. For this I used the Pimo Tenon cutter from Vermont Freehand.

I also used the opportunity while I was at this end of the pipe to drill a hole ahead of the crack in the shank and filled used briar dust and CA Glue. As sometimes happens with restorations, I thought I stopped the crack from spreading, well I was wrong and it continued from the patch further up the shank about ¼ of an inch. So I drilled another hole and patched it again. This time I seemed to have everything under control.

The stem was quite simple to shape to the profile of the pipe and was a welcome change from the frustrations of the other repairs that didn’t go according to plan.

Once I had all the parts and repairs completed. I sanded the entire pipe and stem with 320 grit sandpaper up to 8000 grit (1500-8000 with micro mesh pads) Rustication

At this point I had to consider how I was going to finish this pipe. Originally this was a smooth finish Canadian Billiard, but those days were long behind this tired old pipe. I originally thought of using a really dark stain to hide all the imperfections, polish it and call it a day, then I thought I’d take a risk and create something new, and breath new life into this pipe. For all the effort I put into this pipe up to this point I figured I’d let my creativity flow.

I decided that I would rusticate this pipe and leave a smooth patch somewhere, where I hadn’t determined yet. Using a Dremel and a 107 Carving bit I started to rusticate the shank and worked my way to the heel, then up the stummel. Halfway up the stummel the pipe revealed its final design-leave the top of the bowl smooth! I wasn’t sure at first because it would mean I had to blend in that CA patch, but I now avoided trying to rusticate it.

I was very pleased with the result.

Staining & Finishing

I used Fiebings Dark Brown alcohol based dye over the entire pipe as a base, then wiped on Fiebings Oxblood till I achieved the colour I wanted. To seal the stain in the pipe I applied a thin layer of shellac which gave it a glossy look I didn’t like. I left it, and just stayed the course with this experiment to see how it turned out.

In the morning the Shellac had cured. I began the polishing process at this point. I don’t have a buffing wheel yet, so I use cotton wheel buffing bits that fit to my dremel.

I started with Tripoli and thoroughly went over the entire pipe and stem. The tripoli did a good job of taking down the shellac, and making it less pronounced. I followed that up with white diamond and then finally carnauba wax.  I used a fluffy felt bit to polish the whole pipe.

Bowl Coating

You will find a variety of recipes and opinions on bowl coatings. I use them when needed and I prefer the waterglass recipe that a pipe maker shared with me. It is a combination of Sodium Silicate, Activated Charcoal and White Pumice. Once cured it provides a refractory layer on the inside of the bowl, and it feels like 800 grit sandpaper which promotes new cake build up without putting a lot of heat stress on the worn out briar.

This pipe definitely tested the limits of my abilities  and I learned some new techniques that I had only seen others use. Here’s the finished pipe!

 

 

Craig’s Pipes #4 – Restoring a Dr. Grabow Starfire 39


Blog by Steve Laug

In my previous 3 blogs on Craig’s pipes I spoke of the five pipes that I am working on for him. In this blog I am taking on the fourth of his pipes – one of my favourite Dr. Grabow shapes – Starfire 39. It was another one with a cake in the bowl that was thick and hard. Once more I am going to include what Craig wrote me about his pipes. I have included it in the previous three blogs but I think it adds context to the bunch.

I was recently given a bag of pipes…literally, a BAG of 20 or so pipes that are 50+yrs in age and VERY used. I was wondering if you would have time to either Skype or FaceTime with me, and go through what I have in order to determine which are worth sending to you to have them refurbished. If you would be so kind, I’d really appreciate it.

We met on FaceTime and he pulled out a grocery bag with no rhyme or reason to it. It was filled with a jumble of no name or low-end drug store pipes. The only pipes that stood out for me were an old WDC Campaign pipe and a Grabow Starfire. He had several others that he liked. But we excluded all but five of the pipes. The amount of work necessary to bring them back was not worth the price. These are the five that we chose to work on. As I finish them, I will include the link to the blog covering that pipe.

– A No Name Meerschaum that looked interesting – https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/31/is-it-a-meerschaum-looks-like-one-feels-like-one-but/
– A leather clad billiard marked R20 and bearing a shield – https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/01/rejuvenating-a-leather-clad-billiard/
– A Wally Frank Bulldog marked Natural Unvarnished lacking a stem https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/02/craigs-pipes-3-restemming-and-restoring-a-wally-frank-natural-bulldog/
– A Dr. Grabow Starfire 39 that had great grain
– A WDC Campaign underslung pipe

After our conversation, he packed up the pipes and threw the rest of the pipes in a separate bag for me to scavenge parts. The box did not take too long to get to Vancouver and when it did I opened the box and had a look. Here are pics of what I saw – there were two bags inside. One bag held the discards for the scrap pile and the other held the five pipes he wanted restored. The fourth pipe was the pickaxe shaped Dr. Grabow on the upper left of the above photo, just below the meerschaum. The briar was very dirty with lots of grime and residue that had hardened on the surface of the bowl around the front and right side of the bowl.  It was hard to tell what the rim top was like because of the lava overflow from the bowl up and over the scooped rim. The outer edges had some nicks at the front of the bowl. The inner edge looked pretty rough but I could not tell if it was just the lava or actually damage to the briar. There appeared to be some darkening on the rim but it may also be thin tars and oils. The bowl had a thick cake in it and remnants of tobacco. The shank is stamped on the left side Starfire over Dr. Grabow. On the right side it is stamped with the shape number 39 at the shank stem junction and next to that it reads Imported Briar over Adjustomatic over Pat.2461905. The patent is for the Adjustomatic apparatus in the stem. The stem was in pretty decent condition with some scratches on the top and underside at the button and a light oxidation. I took the following photos of the pipe before I started cleaning it up. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. The rim top had been beaten on a hard surface to knock out the dottle and there were some nicks along the outer edge of the bowl, particularly on the front edge. There was a lot of overflow on the rim, particularly heavy on the back side. The stem had some minor tooth chatter on both sides near the button and scratching on the surface. There were some small nicks on the top side of the stem. It was lightly oxidized and it was slightly overturned to the right. The Dr. Grabow metal “spear” stinger was missing. The pipe was very dirty.I looked up the brand and the line on Pipedia to see what I could find out about it. I have often wondered about how Grabow came up with the names like Regal, Eldorado, Starfire etc. The article solved that mystery for me so I have included that portion for easy reference. The link is:(https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Grabow_Models_(Series,Line)_Names_Through_the_Years).

Before I get started in this section here is a great piece of trivia that I learned from a devoted and caring Dr. Grabow employee recently. You have probably wondered, as I have, just where these names originated or what inspired them. Maybe you have even guessed the connection, but I sure didn’t! When this employee mentioned this to me, he brought it up like a riddle: “THINK CARS!” Now, see if you came up with what I did:

Eldorado — Cadillac

Viscount — Dodge (Car built by Chrysler Corporation of Canada Ltd, for Canadian Markets only ca1959.)

Starfire — Oldsmobile (The original Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Starfire, named after the Lockheed F9413 Starfire fighter jet, was first introduced as a show car in 1953 at GM’s Motorama along with the Buick Skylark and the Cadillac Eldorado.)

Regal — Buick

Savoy — Plymouth (by the way, my friend at Dr. Grabow didn’t say, but there was also a Plymouth BELVEDERE!)

Riviera — Buick, I think first produced for model year 1963, which would have made it known in 1962. The pipe name precedes that, but maybe I missed something.

Lark – Studebaker

All of these cars had roots or beginnings in the 1950s and early 1960s I believe, and perhaps I should do a little more research along those lines to get more accurate facts. If anyone finds better info, just let me know. I never thought of a “car” connection, but had looked at some sort of Royalty thing, what with the DUKEs, VISCOUNT, ROYALTON AND SAVOY, etc. I haven’t checked to see if they were also car names or not.

The article also included the following information on the date of the line. It stated that the STARFIRE (c1956) — First appears in a magazine ad for $3.50 as early as December 1956. “E” selection of briar was used on both the Starfire and Westbrook.

I also wanted to refresh my memory on the Patent information for the Adjustomatic stem and found a page from a catalogue in the same Pipedia article. I have included that page below. The description of the patented system and the cutaway picture are helpful in understanding how the system works.Armed with a refreshed memory I was eager to dive into the restoration of the Starfire. It really was a beautiful piece of briar and I could not wait to see the finished pipe. I started by removing the stem. I found that not only was the stinger apparatus missing but it had actually broken off in the tenon itself. I knew from past experience that the stinger were threaded and unscrewed from the tenon. In this case the upper part of the spade stinger had been twisted off leaving the stem clogged and useless. There was no airflow in the stem at all as the broken stinger cut off all air. I used a piece of wire to pry the edges of the broken stinger to the middle of the tenon, thinking I might be able to use some needle nose pliers to twist it out. But that did not work. It was time to resort to more intrusive measures. I set up my cordless drill and a small drill bit and drilled the tenon. I was careful to keep the bit in the centre of the tenon so as to not damage the threads should I want to put a new stinger in place. It was not too long before the broken stinger end came out on the drill bit. I blew air through the stem and was happy that it was clear and unimpeded.I used a piece of 000 steel wool to clean off the debris from the threads and body of the metal tenon. I cleaned the airway in the stem, shank and mortise with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I scrubbed those areas out until the pipe cleaners and swabs came out clean.The stem was slightly overturned so I worked it back and forth until it lined up. That is the purpose of the Adjustomatic system. I took photos of the pipe with the stem in place and aligned. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and working my way up to the second cutting head as it was the same diameter as the bowl. I reamed it back to bare briar. I cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I carefully sanded the scooped rim top with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the thick lava coat and to minimize the damage on the front outer edge of the bowl.I polished the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with acetone to clean off the sanding dust. The photos show the progress of the polishing. I decided to do this before the deep cleaning with Before & After Restoration Balm this time. I decided to leave the rim unstained as the polishing had blended the colours with the bowl really well. Instead I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the wood. I worked the balm into the rim top to polish the cleaned up area. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The grain in the wood came alive and there was a rich shine to the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside in my rack and worked on the stem. I started by sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the light oxidation, tooth chatter and nicks in the surface.I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks from the reshaping work. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. When I finished with the last micromesh pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry.

With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and buffed the entire pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I buffed it with the polishing compound until it was shiny. I gave the entire pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The stem and the bowl polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the fourth of Craig’s five pipes. Once I finish the last of the pipes I will pack them up and get them out to him. I am looking forward to hearing what he will think once he has them in hand. Thanks for walking through these restorations with me. Once again I can’t help thinking that the pipeman who gave Craig these pipes would be happy that they are back in service and that Craig is carrying on the pipeman’s trust with them. Cheers.

Reworking & Restemming Last of Mark’s Uncle’s Pipes – a Kaywoodie Custom Grain Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the last one of Mark’s uncle’s pipes and when I finish this one the lot of seven are complete and ready to go back to him. This last one is another Kaywoodie. I have repeatedly written how much I am enjoying working on these pipes for Mark. For me an important part of the restoration project is to know the history behind the pipe I am working on. When I find out the story it really adds another dimension to the pipe repair or restoration work.

I have finished six of the seven pipes that Mark sent me and have written about them. As I have worked on each pipe the pipeman who originally owned these pipes was with me through Mark’s story of his life. The links to the blog on each pipe is listed below if you want to read about the work on each of them.

  1. The Ropp Cherrywood De Luxe (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/17/cleaning-and-restoring-a-ropp-cherrywood-de-luxe-805/)
  2. The Doodler (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/19/restoring-a-beautiful-the-doodler-bullmoose/)
  3. A newer three hole stinger Kaywoodie Super Grain Billiard S-L (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/21/restoring-marks-uncles-third-pipe-a-kaywoodie-super-grain-s-l-billiard/)
  4. a Savinelli Churchwarden (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/22/restoring-marks-uncles-savinelli-churchwarden-aged-briar-2002/).
  5. A Tally Ho 33 Pot made by Hardcastle’s (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/25/restoring-and-restemming-marks-uncles-5th-pipe-a-tally-ho-33-pot/)
  6. A Kaywoodie Signet Rhodesian/Round shank Bulldog https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/27/reworking-marks-uncles-6th-pipe-a-kaywoodie-signet-rhodesian/

Here are some pictures of the pipes.The pipe I am working on now is the fourth pipe down in the above photo and the fourth from the left in the photo below. It is a Dublin shaped pipe with a major piece missing from the button on the stem and the Kaywoodie logo missing from the stem. One last time I am going to include a bit of what Mark’s sent me about his uncle. I have included much of this in each of the past pipe restorations to give you a sense of the information that always in behind the desire to clean up and restore this set of old pipes. Mark wrote…

…My Uncle John, raised in an Appalachian Mountain family (think Hatfield and McCoy), was a large man with an affable personality – although this had limits and he could be quite formidable.

During WWII he left home and enlisted in the US Army where he was assigned to Patton’s 3rd Army as an ambulance driver.  After Germany surrendered, he was transported back to the US on a converted ocean liner troop ship (I believe it was the Queen Mary).  Upon reaching the US, his unit was immediately sequestered on a troop train for transport to the West Coast to be shipped to the Pacific for the invasion of Japan.  About half way across the country (possibly somewhere in Texas), the train stopped and the troops informed that Japan had capitulated – WWII was over.

Before the Korean War began, my uncle re-enlisted in the US Air Force.  He as assigned to a Photo Mapping unit as an Aircraft Mechanic.  He worked his way up to Crew Chief and served in Photo Mapping until he medically retired in the mid 60’s due to heart problems.

Being part of an Air Force family, I did not get to spend much time with my uncle while growing up.  However, I was able to stay a couple of summers with him at his West Palm Beach home while in my teens.  On a desk in his Florida Room sat collection of old used pipes in a walnut pipe rack / humidor combo (very similar the Decatur Industries 6 pipe Rack and humidor combination shown in the rebornpipes store).  There were a couple of packages of old dried up commercial brand tobacco in the humidor – one was cherry, I think.  I never saw my uncle smoke and never discussed the pipes with him, but I was intrigued by the pipe collection.  They were old, dirty, and well used – some with chewed through stems.  Obviously, the pipes had been smoked by a devoted pipe enthusiast.  As a young boy, I loved the smell of pipe tobacco, which you could occasionally smell in public way back then.  I started smoking an occasional pipe in college.  When my uncle passed away a few years later, I asked for his pipe collection and have stored it away since then.  The pipes are just as I received them some thirty years ago.

While I will never know for sure, I believe my uncle purchased the pipes in various PX’s and smoked them while an Air Crew Member.  The PX’s would have sold common commercially available pipe brands at a good price, nothing too expensive or exotic – consistent with the pipes in my uncle’s collection.  As a Photo Mapping Air Crew Member / Chief my uncle traveled the world extensively, and was stationed at many bases  – including “permanent” stations in West Palm Beach, Warner Robins, and Goose Bay Labrador, to name a few.  Smoking a pipe would have been a relaxing way to spend a few monotonous hours on the flight line or in the air.  After his heart problems, he must have given up pipe smoking and the pipes sat unused thereafter.  If the bowls look like they were recently scraped, it would have been over fifty years ago, most likely with a Case hardware store folding knife. If dirty, it is due to sitting for many years in the back room.  If well used and chewed it is due to many hours of smoking enjoyment.

I’m looking forward to seeing my Uncle John’s pipes in restored condition.  I know they are not “collectors” items, but they bring back priceless memories of my uncle and the times we spent together sharing “war stories”…

With the old pipeman almost standing over my work table, I turned my attention to the last of his pipes – a Kaywoodie Custom Grain Dublin shaped pipe. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with the word Kaywoodie over Custom Grain over Imported Briar. On the right side of the shank is the shape number 08. I wrote about the various shape numbers of Kaywoodie and Yello-Bole pipe on the blog. I include that link now if you would like to have a look. https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=39480&action=edit. I am also including the portion of the chart on the blog that shows the shape number of this old pipe and the years it was produced. I have boxed the shape number in red for quick reference. The exterior of the pipe was dirty and grimy with a few small dents in the sides of the bowl. The rim top was dirty and had some tar and lava overflowing the inside of the bowl. The right front of the bowl had burn damage where it looked like Mark’s uncle had repeatedly lit his pipe. The bowl itself did not have a thick cake but there was a still a thin cake in the bowl. The pipe looked like it had been reamed not too long before the last bowls were smoked. Overall the finish was in the worst condition of all of the pipes in this lot. It was dirty and dusty. The stem was oxidized and there was a large chunk of the vulcanite missing on the top end of the stem where it had been chewed through or broken off. The logo was missing from the inset on the left side of the stem. I took photos of the pipe before I started restoring it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the remnants of cake in the bowl and the lava buildup on the rim top. I took the photo at a bit of a different angle to show some of the damage to the rim top. The inner and outer edges were in rough shape. The front right outer edge was very worn. I have circled it in red to highlight it in the poor photo below. The top of the rim was also spotty and had tars and lava as well as nicks and scratches. I took some close up photos of the stem to show the size of the missing vulcanite chunk near the button on the underside. The oxidized metal three hole stinger on the stem needed polishing but otherwise it looked good.Since the stem was not only chomped on the underside but in examining it I found it was also cracked. I went through my can of stems and found one that was close to the same diameter and length. I had a decision to make – drill out the mortise to receive a push stem or transfer the stinger from the damaged stem and fitting it to the new stem. I chose the latter. I heated the tenon with a lighter while holding it with a pair of pliers. It did not take too long for the glue to heat up enough for me to turn the stem off of the stinger. I used a brass bristle brush to polish off the tars and oils that had hardened on the stinger. With the stinger removed it was time to work on the new stem to make it ready to take the stinger. Notice that the crack in original stem gave way in the first photo. The first thing that had to go on the new stem was the tenon. I cut it off with a hack saw as close to the end of the stem as possible. Once the tenon was gone I faced the end of the stem on the topping board to smooth out any rough or high spots that remained. I wanted a flush fit against the shank of the pipe. Once the tenon was gone I needed to drill the airway open to receive the stinger apparatus. The base of the stinger had a diameter of ¼ inch but I did not start drilling with that. I started with a bit slightly larger than the airway in the stem and worked my way up. I marked the bit with a permanent marker so that I would not drill too deep. I used a cordless drill at slow speed. To pull the bit out I reversed the drill and let it work it out slowly. This leaves a clean wall on the inside of the new stem.I cleaned out the new hole with cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the dust from drilling. I blew air through the stem to dry it out. I swabbed it with a clean and dry cotton swab. I lined the stinger upright with the hole on top and glued it in place with all-purpose glue. While it was still soft I threaded it into the shank and lined everything up so that it would dry straight. I set it aside and worked on something else while the glue dried. I took photos of the pipe to show the new stem in place after the glue dried. After the glue in the stem had set I removed the bowl from the stem and worked on it. It needed a lot of work. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the remnants of the finish. Once I had the briar cleaned off I topped the bowl on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to minimize the damage from the burn on the right front. I could not take it down to remove all of the burn without compromising the shape. I worked until it was less visible and then called it quits.The bowl was out of round and the inner edge of the bowl was damaged. I worked it over with a folded piece of sandpaper to minimize the damage and bring it back to round. I also worked on the outer edge of the rim to smooth it out as well. The second photo below shows the cleaned up rims – both inner and outer.I wiped the bowl down again with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the rest of the finish and clean up the briar. I took photos of the bowl at this point to show its condition. I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with acetone to clean off the sanding dust. The photos show the progress of the polishing. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol and then stained it with a medium brown aniline stain. I flamed the stain to set it and repeated the process until the coverage was what I was looking for. I washed down the bowl with alcohol on a cotton pad to make the stain a bit more transparent. I wanted to blend in the burn mark and still leave the grain showing through. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the wood. I worked the balm into the rim top and inner bevel of the rim to polish the cleaned up area. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The grain in the wood came alive and there was a rich shine to the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and worked on fitting the stem to the shank. I repeatedly put it on the shank to check the diameter and clean up the fit. I worked on it with 180 grit sandpaper and 220 grti sandpaper to shape the stem to match the diameter of the shank all the way around. I wiped it down each time I finished sanding and then tried the fit. I repeated the process until the transition was smooth between the shank and the stem. It took a lot of sanding to get the fit correct but once it was there the stem was ready to polish with micromesh sanding pads. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax to clean it and give it a light shine. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil to highlight what I needed to work on.  I also wanted to get an idea of what the pipe was going to look like once it was finished. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks from the reshaping work. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. With the stem replaced and polished I put it back on the pipe and buffed the entire pipe again with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I carefully buffed the new button with a light touch so as not to damage it. I gave the entire pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to raise the shine. The new stem and the original stem looked good to me and the bend was just right. The bowl polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown with the original stem in the photos below. This is the final pipe – number seven of Mark’s uncle’s pipes. Now I just need to pack these up as well as he did when he sent them to me and get them out to him. I am looking forward to what he will think once he has them in hand. Thanks for walking through these seven restorations with me. I am thinking Mark’s uncle would be proud of his pipe and glad that his nephew is carrying on the pipeman’s trust with them. Cheers.

Resurrecting an old GFB Bent Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

I have worked on three older GFB pipes over the past 4 years. One was an unsmoked briar calabash, one a military mount bent billiard and the final one a horn stemmed bulldog. All had the same stamping as the pipe I am working on now. All were made of a nice piece of briar and all had the same classic shape to them. When I saw this old pipe on eBay I wanted to add it to the collection. It was similar in shape to the little GFB horn stemmed bulldog though the stem was shorter. The first photo below shows the horn stemmed GFB and the second one was photo that the seller included in the eBay advertisement. The stem on the second one is a Bakelite amberoid stem. The finish on both pipes appeared to be similar. The shape is identical. The stamping on the top pipe was GFB in an oval with three stars over the oval. The second pipe has the same GFB oval but it did not have the stars on it. I am including the link to the previous blog. https://rebornpipes.com/2013/11/21/restoring-an-older-gfb-three-star-horn-stem-bent-bulldog/I am including the rest of the photos that seller attached to the item. They give a pretty good picture of what I saw when I was hooked by the pipe. The finish was very worn. The stem was the same size as the shank and lined up straight on all angles. The stem appears to have a paper washer between the shank and the stem to help keep things straight. It appears that there is a small gap between the shank and the stem but I would not know for sure until I saw it. It is a small pipe – just 4 inches long and 1 ¾ inches tall.The rim top looked to be darkened and possibly burnt in the next two photos but it is hard to tell by the dark quality of the photos. The stem shows some damage on the edge at the joint with the shank. The photos show that the pipe is clearly stamped with the GFB in an oval logo. In the article I noted above on the other GFB bulldog I found some interesting information that I have included here for ease of reference.

The first thing I found was information that the GFB brand was an older French Trademark and that it came from Saint Claude, France. A more focused search for GFB French Briar Pipes led to information that the stamping GFB stood for Great French Briar – something about that did not seem right to me so I continued to look and finally came across the following advertisement from a Sears Catalogue. It shows a full page of GFB pipes and the header says GENUINE FRENCH BRIAR. That made much more sense to me, and all three of my GFB pipes match the pipes in the catalogue. It was good to be reminded of the old brand. I am pretty sure that all three of my GFB pipes come from either the late 1890’s or the early 1900’s. Here are links to the other two GFB pipes that I restored and restemmed if you are interested in some further reading on the brand.

https://rebornpipes.com/2013/06/07/restemming-and-reclaiming-an-older-unsmoked-gfb-briar-calabash/

https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/01/restoring-a-gfb-bent-billiard-another-reclamation-project/

When the pipe arrived in Idaho, Jeff took photos of it. His photos gave a more accurate look at the condition of the pipe before he cleaned it up. The bowl had a lot of black spots all around the sides of the bowl and the shank. The paper washer can be seen between the stem and the shank. It almost looks like a spacer. The Bowl had a thick cake that had overflowed onto the rim top and hardened like lava. The finish on the bowl was worn and tired but the original reddish brown stain still looked good underneath the grime. The rim top was so covered it was hard to know if the inner or outer edge had damage. The stem had tooth marks on both the top and the underside near the button itself was worn as was the slot in the end. The stem material was amberlike but was not amber. There was some crazing in the stem material on both sides of the stem. Jeff took a close up photo of the stem to show the condition of the bowl and the rim top. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and it appears that there may be a little damage on the front right side of the inner edge of the bowl. He also included a picture of the left side of the bowl with the black spots on the finish – it almost looked like tar. The next two photos show the stamping on the left side of the shank. It shows the GFB in an oval logo. It is slightly worn but still showed signs of the gold leaf that is stamped inside the logo.Jeff unscrewed the stem from the shank. In the next photos you can see the buildup of tars and oils on the bone tenon and the wear on it as well. The paper washer was torn and when he removed it off the tenon it fell apart.The next photos show the crazing in the stem and a few cut marks on the top side. The stem was worn, dirty and the sharp edge of the button had smoothed out and was worn into the surface.Jeff did a thorough cleanup on the bowl and stem. He reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall reamer. He cleaned the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs – scrubbing out the mortise as it was very dirty. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the tars and oils built up on the briar. He was able to remove all of the tars and lava on the rim top and left it looking very clean. The damage on the rim top and outer edge was clean and visible. He cleaned the stem with warm soapy water and rinsed it with clean water to remove the soap in the airway. When it arrived I forgot to take photos of the pipe. I started to work on it before I took the photos. I remembered after I had topped the bowl and also started to sand the stem and fit it to the shank. I painted the worn tenon with clear fingernail polish to build it up. Then fit it to the shank and took some photos of it to show how it looked before I continued on the restoration. I took photos of the stem to show the crazing in the Bakelite and some of the damaged areas on the top and underside.I took some photos of the topping process on the bowl. I did not have to remove too much of the rim surface to get rid of the damage to that area. I used 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board and carefully worked on the rim top until it was smooth and the damaged removed.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deep gouges on the top of the stem with amber super glue. I sprayed it with accelerator and when it dried I sanded out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the Bakelite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I carefully buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel so as not to let it get too hot and damage the material. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I was able to polish out much of the damage to the stem. Most of crazing was on the surface so most of it is gone as well. The amber Bakelite polished up really well and almost glowed. That part of the restoration went well and the stem looked new and would look good on the finished pipe bowl.

I set the stem aside and rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the smooth finish, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the wheel to polish it. It really began to have a deep shine in the briar. The rich reds in the briar and the brown stain really looked good at this point in the process. I took some photos of the bowl to mark the progress in the restoration. I decided to leave the small nicks in the bowl surface as marks of character rather than damage the original finish by sanding them all out. I polished the bowl and rim top using the micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. When I finished the polishing I wiped it down a final time. I used some Rub’n Buff European Gold to touch up the GFB stamp on the left side of the shank. I applied it to the stamp with a cotton swab and worked it into the stamp. I repeated the process until the coverage was good. I wiped it off and buffed the shank with a cotton pad.I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I lightly buffed the stem to raise the gloss on the Bakelite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and the stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The rich reddish brown stain on the bulldog shaped bowl works well with the amber gloss of the Baklite stem. This old GFB pipe has a nice mix of grain and now that it is restored it has lots of life in it. It is pipes like this that I wish could speak and tell their story. I would love to know the length and breadth of its journey around the world from France to the US and now to Canada. I guess though I will have to be happy adding my own story to the ongoing saga of this old pipe. Thanks for looking.

 

Breathing Life into a Dr. Grabow Omega Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I have always liked the look of the Dr. Grabow Omega pipes. I have worked on quite a few over the years and have found them well made. The briar is a mixed grain pattern usually but the look of the classic shape and the feel in the hand is quite nice. The style of the stem mimics the Peterson P-Lip but up close it is very different. The airway exits not on the top of the button as in a P-Lip but out the end as in a standard fish tail stem. This old timer was no exception so when Jeff sent it I was interested in what it would look like after his cleanup. The bowl was structurally sound but the finish was worn and tired looking with a lot of scratches all around the sides and bottom of the bowl. The bowl had a thick cake that had flowed over the top. The rim was coated in lava and it was beat up. It had a lot of small holes in it like it had been knocked out on concrete and the outer front edge of the bowl was roughened and rounded over. The inner edge of the bowl looked like it was undamaged. The nickel ferrule was oxidized and scratched. The stem had some tooth marks on the top and underside near the button and was oxidized. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its condition before he started his cleanup work. The next photo shows the cake in the bowl and the condition of the lava overflow on the rim top. You can see that it is quite thick. You can also see the rough condition of the outer edge of the bowl.Jeff took several photos of the bowl from various angles to show the general condition of the finish. There were scratches and nicks but none of them look too deep in the briar. The finish also appears to be very dirty and the varnish coat that is usually present seems worn and tired looking on the sides and bottom of the bowl. The next two photos not only show the stamping on the shank but also the buildup of tars and grime around the edges of the ferrule. It is almost as if the shank was weeping under the ferrule. The stamping is worn but readable. It is stamped OMEGA over Dr. Grabow on the left side of the shank and on the right Imported Briar.When Jeff took the pipe apart it appeared that the seller had put a newer Grabow Paper Filter in the shank of the pipe to make the pipe appear to have been cleaned. The next three photos show the condition of the tenon end of the stem and the filter. The oxidation on the stem is also visible in the photos below. The stem was scratched and worn but the Grabow Spade logo was in good condition on the left side of the shank. The top and underside of the stem had some deep tooth marks around the button and the sharp edge of the top of the button was quite worn and damaged.I did some searching to find out a bit of history about the Omega. I found that it was first released around 1975 and was a copy of a well pipe imported from Italy. It has continued to be offered for sale in their catalogues.

Jeff did a thorough cleanup on the bowl and stem. He reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall reamer. He cleaned the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs – scrubbing out the mortise as it was very dirty. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the tars and oils built up on the briar. He was able to remove all of the tars and lava on the rim top and left it looking very clean. The damage on the rim top and outer edge was clean and visible. He soaked the stem in an Oxyclean bath to raise the oxidation to the surface of the vulcanite. When it arrived I took some photos of it to show how it looked before I did the restoration.  Jeff was able to remove the thick lava coat from the rim and revealed what I thought would be underneath the thick coat. The rim top was speckled with tiny dents and marks and the outer edge was damaged all the way around the bowl. There was a little damage on the inner edge on the right side of the bowl.The Oxyclean soak had really raised the oxidation to the surface. The stem was clean but heavily oxidized when it arrived.Because the was so oxidized after the soak in Oxyclean, I put it in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak overnight and work on the vulcanite oxidation. In the morning I removed the stem from the deoxidizer and wiped off the excess deoxidizer from the surface of the stem with a paper towel. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove any remnants of the bath from that part of the stem. The photos below show the stem after the soak and rub down. The oxidation looked much more manageable and what remained would be easily dealt with. The tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem is hard to see in the photos, but it is present.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and minimize the tooth marks on both sides of the stem. I reshaped the button with the sandpaper and a needle file. I sanded the rest of the stem to break up the remaining oxidation.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful around the spade logo insert as they can easily be damaged. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. The outer edge of the rim was damaged all around the bowl but the worst damage was on the front edge. You can see the roughness of the rim edge in the next photo. With the small pin prick holes on the rim top and the damage on the inner edge of the right side of the bowl I decided to top the bowl. I top a pipe on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and work the bowl over the sandpaper holding the rim flat against the topping board and working the bowl to evenly sand the bowl top smooth and remove the damage. Once the rim edges were almost smooth I used a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth out the outer edge of the bowl all the way around the bowl. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. When I finished the polishing I wiped it down a final time. I blended some light and medium brown stain from a stain pen to restain the rim top and edges to match the colour of the rest of the bowl. The blend works well in trying to get this particular shade of brown. I hand buffed the stain to polish it and blend the colours together.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the smooth finish, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the wheel to polish it. It really began to have a deep shine in the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I decided to leave the small nicks in the bowl surface as marks of character rather than damage the original finish by sanding them all out. I cleaned and polished the nickel ferrule with micromesh sanding pads. I was careful in sanding the nickel in that the dust from the metal can discolour the briar and make more work. I was happy with the finished end cap. I buffed the briar on the wheel with Blue Diamond to polish it more. I was careful around the already light stamping. I hand buffed the bowl and ferrule with a microfiber cloth and took photos of the bowl at this point. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I buffed the stem to raise the gloss on the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dark to medium brown stain on the billiard shaped bowl works well with the polished nickel ferrule and the rich black of the vulcanite stem. This old Omega pipe has some interesting grain and has lots of life in it to add your own story to the ongoing saga of the briar. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 5/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.