Tag Archives: dented and damage rims

Cleaning up an Edward’s Brandy Shaped pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

Label Logo_mediumThe third Edward’s pipe that came to me in the box of pipes to clean up and sell for the support of Smokers Forums is stamped Algerian Briar in block print on the left side of the shank and on the right side Edward’s in script. There is a large 7 toward the bowl end of the underside of the shank. Near the shank it is stamped 13L which according to Edwards shape charts generally has a 7 as the first number. I think this is the same age as the previous pipes I have been working on and it only has the two digits and the letter L. That numbering is called a large apple. On the original pipes it appears that the pipe originally had a taper stem. That would explain why this stem is slightly loose and does not perfectly match the diameter of the shank.

It is about the same size as the Dublin and the apple that I just finished restoring. It has similar grain. The back and front of the bowl are cross grain and the sides are birdseye grain. The top and the bottom of the bowl and the shank are cross grain as well. The finish on the bowl was in rough shape. The briar was dry and lifeless looking. The surface of the pipe was dirty and grimy. The rim was covered with an overflow of lava like the other pipes in the lot. The bowl had a thick cake that had the same sticky and crumbling consistency as it had in the other bowls. The stem was oxidized and had some tooth chatter on the top and the bottom of the stem. The internals of the stem and the shank were very dirty and covered in a thick tar. There were quite a few fills in the bowl. There was a large on the back right side near the top of the bowl. There were several smaller fills on the front of the bowl and on the underside at the bowl shank junction. There were also some small sandpits that were not filled. Like all of the Edward’s pipes that I have worked on this one was natural briar. Once it was cleaned up it would have a rich natural look that would darken over time and use.Brandy1 Brandy2 Brandy3I took a close-up photo of the bowl to show the build up on the rim and also the odd configuration of the cake.Brandy4 Brandy5I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and started with the smallest cutting head and worked my way up to the head that was the same diameter as the bowl. I reamed it back to bare wood and cleaned out the debris that was left with a pen knife.Brandy6 Brandy7I scrubbed the rim with 0000 steel wool to remove the lava overflow that had hardened on the rim. I have used the steel wool on the last two pipes and I am impressed with how easy it makes this process. Of course it helps that the bowl is a natural finish so I am not damaging any of the original finish on the bowl with the steel wool.Brandy8I cleaned the internals with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the inside was clean and sweet smelling. I swabbed out the bowl with a cotton swab and alcohol to clean up any of the dust left behind by the steel wool.Brandy9I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the ground in grime in the finish. I scrubbed it until the finish was clean and lifeless looking.Brandy10 Brandy11 Brandy12I gave the bowl a light coat of olive oil and rubbed it in to bring some of the original colour back to the briar and give it a little life. The photos below show the bowl after this treatment. It has some awesome grain – along with a few sandpits and fills.Brandy13 Brandy14 Brandy15 Brandy16With the bowl finished it was time to work on the stem. I am pretty certain that this is a replacement stem as the fit is not quite right and according to the charts it was supposed to be a taper stem. However, I decided to go with the stem that came with it in the box I received and clean it up and make it fit as best as possible. I sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and then went on to sand with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I went on to dry sand it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil.Brandy17 Brandy18I buffed the stem with Tripoli and then White Diamond before sanding it with the final three grits of micromesh – 6000-12000 grit.Brandy19I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond Plastic polish on the wheel and then gave bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then took it back to the table and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown below. I kind of like the saddle stem as it gives the pipe a bit of an English flair.Brandy20 Brandy21 Brandy22 Brandy23 Brandy24 Brandy25

Extending the Life of a Hard Used Kaywoodie Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

In the box of pipes that a friend sent for me to fiddle with, was a tired old Kaywoodie Bulldog. The stamping was worn off and with a loupe I could read that it was stamped Kaywoodie on the left side of the shank with something illegible below that followed by an R in a circle. On the right side of the shank was the remnant of a shape stamp the looked like it had four digits ending with the bottom curve and tale of an S. The pipe was in rough shape. The bowl was reamed out of round with the rim having taken a beating. The right side of the inner edge was very thin and had been scored down toward the bottom of the bowl. The rings around the bowl were rough and damaged. There was a cut mark on the top of the shank where it joined the bowl and a small crack above the shank insert on both the top and the bottom of the shank. The junction of the stem and shank showed damage as well from what appeared to be pliers. The stem was overclocked. It had some tooth damage on the top and bottom surfaces and was oxidized. KW1 KW4 KW3 KW2 I looked at the pipe as it sat in the box and removed it and turned it over in my hand many times during the past three months since it arrived. I just was not sure that I could salvage it. I figured it might make a good delegate to cannibalize for parts or for another Frankenpipe but I was not sure it was redeemable. I took the next close up photos of the rim and the gouge in the shank to give you an idea of what I needed to deal with if I tackled this pipe as a project.KW5 KW6I spent quite a bit of time looking at the pipe and decided it would be worth a try to see if I could improve it and make it functional. It would never be a pipe of beauty but the old warrior deserved another lease on life. I could certainly make it look better. So with that resolve I heated the metal stinger and tenon with a lighter to loosen the glue so that I could re-clock the stem. It did not take too much heat or time to loosen and then adjust the fit of the stem to the shank. I set it aside to cool and set the glue once again.KW7I decided to top the bowl to even out the height of the bowl around the rings. Currently it was taller in the front than the back and taller on the right than the left side. I worked to take off that excess and minimize some of the damage to the rim as well.KW8 KW9 KW10I used a knife blade needle file to redefine the twin rings around the bowl and to sharpen up the definition on the top and the bottom of each line.KW11With all of the adjustments done I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the remaining finish and the ground in grime that was on the bowl.KW12 KW13 KW14I reamed the cake back to bare wood so that I could see the extent of the damage to the walls of the pipe. I used a PipNet reamer to take back the cake.KW15 KW16I cleaned up the remaining cake with a sharp pen knife to clean off all of the debris. I then sanded the rim with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and prepare it for the plan I had for it. I wiped it down with alcohol and then packed briar dust into the rim damage. I place drops of super glue on the briar dust to form that patch. While I did that repair I also repaired the gouge in the shank bowl junction.KW17 KW18 KW19I sanded the cured patch with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess and to level out the surface with surface of the bowl and shank. The first two photos below show the repaired shank damage and the third photo shows the repaired rim.KW20 KW21 KW22I set the bowl aside at this point and worked on the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. Then I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-4000 grit pads. I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil between each successive grit to give the micromesh pads more traction as I used them.KW23 KW24I buffed the stem with White Diamond and Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise the shine. Then it was time to stain the bowl. I decided to use an opaque oxblood aniline stain. It is a stain that is thicker in consistency to the Feibings and gives good coverage on damaged briar repairs. I applied the stain and flamed it. It gave the old warrior some life while not hiding the repairs that it would wear proudly over the years ahead to witness to its hard life.KW25 KW26 KW27 KW28I buffed off the excess stain once it was set with a quick buff of Blue Diamond polish on the buffer. I then worked some more on the stem working back through the previous grits of micromesh to reduce the stubborn oxidation on the stem. I used a lighter flame to paint the surface of the stem to burn off the oxidation as well. I finished by sanding it with 6000-12000 grit micromesh pads and then buffed the entirety with Blue Diamond on the buffer.KW29I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it to a shine with a clean flannel buff. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to give it some depth. The finished pipe is shown in the pictures below. While the pipe certainly is not a thing of beauty there is some restored dignity that will serve it well in the years ahead. It should serve the pipeman whose rack it graces with a good solid smoke for a good long time.KW30 KW31 KW32 KW33

Cleaning up a Swedish Bromma Dollar System Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

I picked up this old Swedish Pipe in a little town in Northern Alberta, Canada. It was an antique mall, the only one in town and I was able to pick up this one for about $10 so I did not feel too bad about it. I had not seen one of these pipes before. It is stamped BROMMA over Sweden on one side of the shank. On the other there is an Elephant logo in a circle and inside the circle is the word DOLLAR. The bowl is briar and the rest of the pipe seems to be either plastic or Bakelite. It is interesting. I was able to take the stem out when I picked it up but the bowl would not budge. It was definitely a screw on bowl as it was on crooked and at somewhat of an angle. The stem had tooth chatter on the top and bottom but no tooth dents. I sprayed some solvent on the bowl stem connection to try to loosen it. I twisted it carefully but it would not budge so I set it in my box of pipes for repair.


Today was my day to work on it. I took it out of the box and gave the bowl a twist and it would not budge. I used the sanding board to top the bowl and once it was smooth and clean I wiped the entire bowl with acetone. I was careful not to get any on the shank or bottom of the part. I then used Isopropyl and a cotton swab to swab alcohol around the bowl and the bottom portion of the pipe – the keeper for lack of a better word. I repeated this several times and tried to carefully twist the bowl off the keeper. I repeated the swab and alcohol until finally I was able to twist it off the keeper. The next two photos below show what I found inside the keeper portion of the pipe. This is amazingly like the stem portion of the Falcon pipes. The difference is the material it is made of. It is incredibly lightweight and resilient. The base was absolutely full of hardened tars and sludge. My guess is that it had never been taken apart after the initial purchase and after the bowl was put on and misaligned. This would take some work to be sure. The stuff was as hard as rock and would not budge with a pipe cleaner.


I decided to drop the bowl into the alcohol bath and let it soak away while I worked on the stem and base portion. I used my dental pick and Isopropyl alcohol to work at the rocklike tar in the base. I soaked the tarry stuff with alcohol and picked at it with the dental pick. Once I had some of it loose I would use the cotton swabs to daub out the gunk and alcohol and then repeat the process. The next series of three photos show the process of picking away the tar and the results after wiping it clean with the swabs. I probably used about 60 or more swabs and removed a lot of the gunk from the bottom of the base. I soaked it and kept at it. I used 0000 steel wool to scrub the tars once I had the majority of the material picked free. Then I took it to the sink and used a microfiber cloth to scrub the base with hot water and degreaser.


The next two photos show the inside of the base after it has been thoroughly cleaned. The shank itself was almost like a Kirsten barrel and need lots of soft tissue and cloth run through it until it was clean and shiny on the inside. The photos are slightly out of focus but the cleanness of the base is very visible.


I then removed the bowl from the alcohol bath and went to work on it. I picked out the two putty fills with my dental pick. I also followed the threads with the dental pick to remove the grime and grit that filled the threads and did not allow the bowl to be threaded on correctly. I also used a bristle tooth brush and alcohol to scrub the bottom of the bowl from the threads down to the nipple like structure on the bottom. The next four photos show the bottom of the bowl and the threads after cleaning them. There is an inset portion of the bowl bottom that is like a moat around an island that has the moutainlike nipple in the centre. This took quite a few cotton swabs to clean the grime out of the channel. Once it was clean there is a patent stamp on it. It reads Pat. S. I am guessing it is a Swedish Patent mark. The portion of the bowl that is threaded seems like it is made of the same kind of material as the base of the pipe. The mountain in the middle is briar. It is an interesting and unique design. I am looking forward to firing it up and giving it a smoke once it is finished.


Once the bowl was clean I decided to replace the fills with briar dust and super glue. The next series of photos show that process. I had already picked out the putty fill. I used a dental pick to tamp briar dust into the pits on the bowl. The first picture shows the briar dust before I wiped it smooth and added a few drops of super glue to the mix. The second and third photo are a bit out of focus but show the repaired fills after I sanded them down with sandpaper to smooth the surface to match the surface of the bowl.


The bowl was now ready to be stained with an oxblood coloured aniline stain. I applied the stain with a cotton swab and then flamed it and buffed it off. The first two photos below show the stain applied and ready to be flamed with a match. I held the bowl with a dauber so that I could manipulate it to apply the stain.


The next two photos show the bowl after a buff with Tripoli. I had not polished them at all at this point I merely buffed off the stain to get an even coat on the bowl sides and rim. The great thing with the briar and super glue fill is that it takes the stain and darkens with the finish coat. It is far more attractive to me than the pink putty fills that were originally present.


The next two photos show the pipe taken apart. There is the bowl base and long shank that is made of the plastic or Bakelite material, the bowl itself. It has a small burn mark on the top of the rim but I left it rather than take it down any deeper into the surface. The third portion is the stem unit with a four finned stinger apparatus. The airflow is straight through from the bottom of the bowl to the slot in the button. The stinger with cooling fins is designed to cool the smoke and trap the tar and oils along the fins. This portion and the inside of the stem took work to clean. It is open enough to take a pipe cleaner through it with no problem.


The final four photos are of the complete pipe reassembled and ready to smoke. I coated the bowl base and stem with Obsidian Oil and then hand waxed it with Halcyon II wax and buffed it to a shine by hand as I did not want to risk it on the buffer. I have had this kind of material melt when buffed so I am shy to try it on this pipe. The stem was sanded with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit and then polished with Maguiar’s Plastic polish as I have been doing on all of the pipes lately. I put some carnauba wax on the threads of the bowl to lubricate make the threads as I screwed on the bowl.


New Life for a Wally Frank Super Delicious Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

I have become familiar with many of the Wally Frank lines of pipes but this was one I had not heard of before. It almost sounds like something to eat rather than smoke. It is stamped Wally Frank Ltd on the left side of the shank and on the right Super Delicious – interesting stamping indeed. The pipe was one of the bowls that I had in my box needing to be restemmed. It also had a cracked shank that was present before I matched a stem to it. Often a shank will crack like this if a tenon that is oversized is forced into the shank. That obviously had happened to this old pipe sometime in its life. I found a stem that fit the shank and inserted it enough to show the crack in the shank for the first photo below. The crack approximately ½ inch long and was in a portion of the shank where it was thinner than the other side. One of the challenges in restemming these older pipes is the fact that the shank is very often out of round and the stem has to be shaped to match it accordingly. The bowl has some nice grain on it and was well worth restoring. The remaining three photos in the first group of four show the grain and shape of the pipe. Note that rim was not only darkened but was worn on the front edge of the outer rim.



I reamed out the bowl and removed the cake that was present only in the top half of the bowl. It seemed that the lower portion of the bowl was not even broken in. The top of the bowl needed to be topped to even out the flat top of the bowl. The way the angle was after the tars and grime were removed was d a slight slant toward the front of the bowl and the front edge was rounded from tapping out the bowl repeatedly on a hard surface. I used the board and sandpaper to top the bowl and even out the top. I also made certain that the bowl was held against the board to even out the angle and make the top smooth and flat. The first photo below shows how out of round the shank is in proportion to the mortise. Notice the difference in thickness all around the shank diameter. The crack in the shank is at about 3 o’clock on the shank. The next two photos show the bowl after it has been topped and is even with no slant toward the back or front of the bowl.


After I had topped the bowl and evened things out I wiped the entirety of the bowl down with acetone on a soft cotton pad to remove the grime and the remaining finish on the bowl. It came off almost black when I was finished cleaning it. I then needed to band the crack shank. I opened it with the stem and then dripped a bit of superglue in the crack before pressure fitting the band in place. The first photo below shows the shape of the shank and makes the thin area very clear. This would require quite a bit of shaping to make the stem fit the shank correctly. The next two photos show the banded stem and how it fits on the shank. I kind of like the look of the band against the natural colour of the briar.


The next two photos below show the stem shape after I had removed much of the material at the top left corner of the picture. The stem is round at this point but the tenon is no longer in the center of the stem. It is proportionately toward the top left of the picture and on the top bottom when it is in place in the shank.

At this point in the process I restained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain that I thinned with isopropyl alcohol so that it would match the colour of the bowl. My goal was to match the rim that I had topped and was raw briar to the natural patina of the bowl and shank. I mixed the stain until it was the colour I was aiming for and then stained the entire bowl with multiple applications of the stain to the rim. I flamed the stain and reapplied it to the rim, flamed it again and then took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the bowl and stem with Tripoli and White Diamond. Once I was done with that I buffed the bowl and shank with multiple coats of carnauba wax to bring depth to the shine and also to blend the rim and bowl together.

I then worked on the oxidation of the stem. I had shaped it to fit the shank with my Dremel and when it fit well I sanded the stem from front to button with 280 grit sandpaper and then 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the oxidation and scratch marks from the Dremel. Once it was smooth I progressed through the micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit. In between 4000 and 6000 grits I polished the stem with Maguiar’s Scratch X 2.0 and then finished sanding with the micromesh. I finished the stem with a coat of Obsidian Oil and then multiple coats of carnauba wax to give it shine. The next series of four photos show the finished pipe. It is shined and ready to smoke.




Really? Why wouldn’t you stop after doing this the first time?

I was browsing EBay this morning and came across a group of Dunhill pipes that were being sold individually by the same seller. There are four pipes all being sold at strangely high prices with several bidders. All of them obviously came from the same pipe smoker. The three below are the worst of the lot. The last of the foursome is probably redeemable with a light topping and reshaping of the rim. These three would take quite a lot of work. The incredible thing to my mind is the amount of damage caused to all of them. I look at them with sadness and wonder at the person who would do that to that many pipes. Personally I would think that if I had one pipe sustain that damage I would change my habits. Not so with the pipe smoker of this trio, all nice lovats. If you look at the pictures below you will see that all three have a burn in pretty much the same spot. The sacrifice of briar to the flame is absolutely unnecessary.

From my experience this kind of burn is caused by repeatedly using a torch lighter and carelessness in directing the flame into the bowl. Repeatedly lighting the pipe in the same way from the same angle produces the results visible in these photos. I know that they are Dunhill’s and odds are they were not cheap pipes. But they are still selling on EBay at a price that a similarly burnt no name or low name pipe would never see.

I have repaired a lot of burned rims and damaged rims but these seem so unnecessary to me. Ah well I won’t be bidding on them. All three would need a serious topping to bring them to even close to pristine condition and would also ruin their value to collectors. Why buy them at all? I suppose some folks would fall under the spell of the white dot or maybe they are just going for the well kept stems.





A Journey from Oxidation to Shine – Refurbishing a Wally Frank Meerlined Billiard

I have had this old meerlined billiard in my box for refurbishing for quite awhile. The stamping on it says Made in London England on the right side of the shank. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Wally Frank Limited. The finish on the bowl was cloudy from many coats of wax and there was a gummy substance on the front of the bowl from a sales label. The rim was dented and the inner edge of the meer lining was damaged. There was a heavy buildup of cake on the meer. The stem was badly oxidized.

ox5 I decided to work on the interior first so I used a plumbers wire brush (used for smoothing the edges of a newly cut pieces of pipe or tubing). It is a ¾ inch brush (see the photo to the left of this text) and I have found that if it is used carefully it is good at removing the initial cake build up on the interior of a meerlined bowl. I say carefully because too much and the brush scratches the meer lining. In this case I ran it through one time and then dumped out the ash and carbon buildup. The two photos below show the brush inserted in the bowl and give an idea of the tool itself.

Once the brush has done its work I use a blunt edge letter opener/knife to smooth out the rest of the cake that is still present. The next photo gives a clear picture of the pipe bowl after I have used the brush in it and just inserted the knife. There was still some stubborn cake left that I used the knife to scrape away. The second photo below shows the bowl after I have finished with the knife. Once the bowl was at this point it was time to use sandpaper in the bowl to smooth out the edges and rough spots.

The next photo shows the bowl after the initial sanding on the cake. I had lots more to sand at this point but I wanted to document the process. At this point in the process I removed the stem and put it in a jar of Oxyclean to soak and soften the oxidation while I continued to work on the bowl.

I used many cotton swabs on the inside of the bowl to remove the sanding dust and to clean out the inside of the shank once the stem was removed. The mortise had a thick coating of tars and the airway into the bowl was constricted with tars as well. It took many swabs and about the same number of pipe cleaners to get the interior clean. I dipped the swabs and pipe cleaners in 99% Isopropyl alcohol and washed out the inside. The first swabs came out almost black with the tars. I did some more sanding on the rim and the inner edge of the rim and meer lining. The rim was quite dented and had some chunks missing so I topped it lightly using the methods I have written about in other articles on the blog. I also used a folded piece of sandpaper to bevel the edge of the meer lining inward to take care of the damaged edge of the meer.

Once the bowl was finished I wiped it down with some acetone on a cotton pad to remove the wax buildup and give me a clean surface to work with. I took the stem out of the soak and went to work on it. I wiped it down with a soft cotton cloth to dry it and to remove the softened oxidation. I then filled a cup with warm water and began to work on the stem with the micromesh sanding pads 1500-12,000. I took pictures of each successive micromesh pad and the result of using it to show the progression of the polishing.

The first four pictures below show the stem after wet sanding with the 1500 rust coloured sanding pad. You can also see the inner rim and bowl top after my work on them as well. The first sanding took what remained of the majority of the oxidation off the stem and gave it a dull matter finish. I wet the sanding pad down and sanding with it wet. I repeated the sanding of the stem repeatedly until the oxidation was gone. Then I wiped it down before the picture to show the progress.




Once I was satisfied that the majority of the oxidation was gone I move on to the green 1800 grit micromesh sanding pad. I also used this pad with water and wet sanded the stem repeatedly. You can see the remaining oxidation still showing up on the wet sanding pad in the two photos below. The two photos show the stem after multiple sanding. I wiped it down with a soft cloth to dry it off and wipe away the grime left behind by the wet sanding. The stem is beginning to take on a bit of a shine. The matte finish of the 1500 grit is getting a polish.


The next two photos show the 2400 grit micromesh disk (grey coloured). I used this pad without water to polish and shine away some of the scratches. I found on the left side of the stem near the button there was a fairly deep scratch on the edge. I used some 280 grit sandpaper to remove this scratch and then repeated the 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh sanding. Once finished I gave the entirety of the stem a sanding with the 2400 grit pads to smooth out the finish. I also used the pad to sand the top of the bowl and the edge of the meer lining.


A 3200 grit micromesh pad (tan coloured) was used next. I also dry sanded the stem with this one the first few times I sanded it. The last time I wet sanded the stem. The next two photos show the stem after the sanding. I wiped it down with a soft cotton cloth to remove the dust and residue from the wet sanding.


Once I got to this point I decided to try some Mequiar’s Scratch X 2.0 fine scratch and blemish remover that I picked up at an auto parts store. It is used to polish headlight lenses. I applied the polish to the stem and let it dry a short time before wiping it down and polishing the stem with the cotton cloth. The first two photos show the application of the white polish. The last two show the result of the polish on the stems at this point in the process.




At this point in the process I decided to continue with the micromesh sanding pads. I wanted to take them through the 12,000 grit pad and document the progressive shine that comes alive in the stems. The next two photos show the wine/brown 3600 grit sanding pad and the results. I sanded the entirety of the stem repeatedly before wiping it down for the photos below. I dry sanded with this grit pad and also with the remaining micromesh pads.


A 4000 grit Teal coloured micromesh pad was next. I also dry sanded with this pad. The next two photos show the shine starting to come alive on the stem.


A 6000 grit Purple coloured micromesh pad was next. I dry sanded with this pad as well. The next two photos show the shine after I repeatedly sanded the stem.


An 8000 grit Royal Blue micromesh pad was the next in line to be used. The difference in shine between the 6000 and the 8000 grit is quite remarkable. The shine takes on a depth that the early grits did not bring out in the vulcanite. The next two photos show the stem after sanding several times with this grit pad.


The final micromesh pad to be used was the Grey coloured 12,000 grit pad. I also dry sanded with this pad. I sanded the stem several times until the vulcanite shine had a depth that was visible. The two photos below show the result of the final sanding.


At this point in the process I once again wiped the stem down with the Meguiar’s polish and buffed it off by hand with a soft cotton cloth. I then took it to the buffer and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I also buffed the bowl with White Diamond and then carnauba wax as well. The finished pipe is in the four photos below.




New Life for a BBB Ultima Thule Pocket Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

I picked up this little BBB in the same lot as the little BBB bulldog that I posted about recently. It is a similar pocket size (4 and ½ inches) and needed a bit of work. It is stamped BBB in the standard diamond and over that Ultima Thule. (According to Wikipedia the name refers to any distant place beyond the known world.) Under the diamond it is stamped Own Make. The first two pictures are the EBay seller’s photos. When the pipe arrived I can honestly say that the seller did a great job on taking honest photos. The pipe was solid but in rough shape. The rim was slanted toward the front and round all the way around with many nicks and dents in it from tamping the pipe out. It was still round on the inner edge which is pretty amazing on these old timers. This was a pretty well cared for pipe other than the tamping. The finish was dirty and spotty – lighter in some places than others – with a mottled look to it. The stem was oxidized and the edge/ shoulder at the shank junction was rounded and no longer a good smooth fit. There were no bite marks on the stem and the surface was smooth under the oxidation. This would not be a bad clean up.

I separated the stem and bowl and reamed the bowl. I wiped the exterior with acetone to remove the remaining finish and the grime. Then I placed the bowl in the alcohol bath to soak while I worked on the stem.

The stem actually was relatively easy to clean up. I wiped it down with a damp magic eraser and removed the majority of oxidation. Then I sanded it with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper followed by 1200-6000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I gave it a coating of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. Once the bowl was finished I would buff them together. I did not want to chance rounding the edges even more. I also did not want to lose any more of the button on the pipe stem by over buffing.

I removed the bowl from the alcohol bath after 1 hour of soaking. I dried it off and cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners, shank brush and cotton swabs soaked in isopropyl alcohol. I worked those until they came out clean. I used sandpaper on the interior of the bowl to smooth out the remaining cake and clean the surface. I wiped it down with cotton swabs and isopropyl afterwards. I used the sanding board and paper to top the bowl and bring it back to a flat and even condition. I did not have to remove very much of the top but I wanted it to be straight and not slanted toward the front. I used my normal variety of sandpapers (280, 400 and 600) to do this and finished it with micromesh sanding pads 1200-6000 to remove the remaining scratches. I wiped down the bowl with a cotton pad dampened with acetone to remove any sanding dust and remnants of the topping process. I restained this bowl with an oxblood stain thinned with isopropyl to arrive at the original colour. I flamed the stain and when dry took it to the buffer and gave it a buff with White Diamond.

I reinserted the stem and the gap and roundness of the shoulders on the stem made a smooth fit impossible to attain. I decided to use an old BBB band that I had in my box and heated it and pressure fit it to the shank. I liked the finished look of the pipe. I gave the entirety several coats of carnauba wax and a polishing buff with a clean flannel buffing pad. The pictures below show the finished product.


Refurbished – A Stunning New Look for a Butz Choquin Billiard

I picked up this old Butz Choquin in a lot I was given by a friend and it was in very rough shape. I somehow neglected to take any pictures of what the pipe looked like when it arrived. But it came stem less and the rim was ruined. It had been hammered on concrete or something like that as it was stippled and rough. The inner rim was ruined as it seemed to have been reamed with a pocket knife and it was cut and grooved at all different angles. To have topped it I would have had to lose almost a half an inch on the pipe. In my opinion that would have ruined the billiard profile and created a pot shape. I decided to try something different on this one. The finish was shot as well and the stain was gone. It was a dull brown with much dirt and grime ground into the surface of the briar.

I reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer (like a Castleford T handle reamer) to even the sides of the bowl and smooth out the inner surface. I wiped the bowl down with acetone to clean off the grime and grit. Once it was clean I hunted down a stem blank that would work on a pipe with this sized shank. I cut the tenon with my Pimo tenon turner and shaped the stem to a clean fit with my Dremel. Then I took the bowl and dropped it in the alcohol bath while I worked on the stem. I sanded the stem to remove the scratches left by the Dremel. I also shaped the button a bit to change the shape and open up the slot to an oval.

I took the bowl out of the bath and dried it off. I gave it another wipe down with the acetone to give me a clean surface to work on. I then went to work on the rim. I wanted to chamfer the rim inward toward the bowl to remove the damaged material and give it a different look. I topped the bowl first to get a smooth and even surface. From there I sanded the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of sandpaper (280 grit). I use a one inch square piece of sandpaper folded into quarters. Then I set the angle I want to have on the chamfer by the way I hold the paper. I sanded it until I got it at the angle I wanted and removed the damaged material. Once I had the angle right I then changed the grade of sandpaper sanding it with 400 and 600 grit wet dry and then with the micromesh sanding pads from 1500 to 6000 grit.

At that point I put the stem back on the pipe and sanded it until the transition between the shank and the stem was smooth. I wanted it to be a fit that appeared to be seamless. Once I had that done and had sanded the stem smooth with the various grades of micromesh sanding pads I took it to the buffer to give the stem a shine. I brought it back to my work table and sanded the bowl and shank until they were also smooth. I did not sand around the nomenclature as I wanted that to be intact.

I decided that I would give the bowl a contrasting stain finish. I heated the briar with a blow dryer to warm it up and open the grain on the bowl. Once it was warm I stained it with a black aniline stain. I flamed the stain and let it dry. I took it to the buffer and buffed it with Red Tripoli to remove the black stain from the surface of the briar. This takes off the extra black and leaves it in the softer grain of the briar. I sanded it again with 600 and 800 grit wet dry sandpaper and then buffed it again with White Diamond. I wanted contrast between the black that was deeply set in the grain and the harder smooth surfaces. Once that was done I wiped the bowl down with acetone to tone down the blacks and to clean off the surfaces that did not have the stain set in them. I restained the pipe with a Medium Brown aniline stain and flamed it as well. Once it was dry I buffed it with White Diamond to polish it. The whole pipe was then given multiple coats of carnauba wax and a finish buff with a soft, clean, flannel buffing pad.

While I liked the look of the pipe at this point I decided that it needed a bit of bling to finish it off. I have a box of bands here and found one the correct size – a nickel band that would add just the touch I was looking for. I heated the band with my heat gun and pressure fit it on the shank of the pipe. The finished product is in the photos below. This pipe found a new home with a friend on one of the online forums. I am sure he has enjoyed it as it was a great smoking machine.

The verdict is yours is the new look stunning or not?





Refurb on the London Made

I finished up the refurb on a London Made billiard. It is a big pipe 7 1/2 inches long. This one was by far the worst one in the lot of three large pipes that I had in my box to refurbish. The rim was in very rough shape with burn marks on the right hand side and dents and scuffs from banging out the dottle. The bowl was heavily caked and the stem and shank were virtually plugged with tars.

I reamed the bowl and cleaned the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and a shank brush and isopropyl alcohol. Then I gave the bowl an alcohol bath over night. The next morning I took it out of the bath, dried it off with a soft cloth. Once it was dry I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads (1500-6000 grit) until it was smooth. I wiped it down with a cotton pad and some isopropyl to clean off the sanding dust and any remaining oils from my hands. I restained it with an oxblood aniline stain thinned with isopropyl alcohol.

I went to work on the stem after that. The stem was in bad shape. There was a very deep cut mark on the top of the stem about a 1/4 inch from the button. There was also a bite through hole on the underside of the stem. I cleaned and sanded the stem until it was black once again. I left the area around the button, on top and bottom, a bit rough and then filled the cut on the top with krazy glue. I greased and inserted a pipe cleaner in the slot and then filled the hole with krazy glue. Once the glue was completely dry I sanded the two fills I made with sand paper – 400, 600 grit, and then micromesh sanding pads from 1800-6000 grit. (I have read of concern by different folks on how the super/krazy glue can melt or cause damage on vulcanite. I have now been using this process for several years and never had a problem. I have used it on both vulcanite and Lucite. In the past weeks I have also used it on a nylon stem without any probems.)

I took the pipe to my buffer and finished the refurbishing with a buff of White Diamond to polish the finish on the bowl and the stem. I gave the entirety several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean flannel buff to give it a shine.

Here are the pics of the finished pipe (once again I forgot to take pictures of the pipe before I worked on it). Thanks for looking. ImageImageImageImageImage

New Life for an Old Barling

I have often written on the blog that good refurbishing begins with observation of the work at hand. I never fail to spend time looking at a pipe and noting areas of concern before I work on it. That is probably why it is pretty simple to record the work I have done on the pipe after the fact. In the old Barling bent, who’s refurbishment is recorded in the following post, I chose to post the notes from my observations. Enjoy!

At Smokers Forums a friend and I have exchanged ideas and thoughts through pm’s, emails and phone calls for several years now. Our talks have covered much ground but seem to also involve at least a fair amount of chatting about refurbishing estate pipes. A couple of weeks ago he contacted me with an idea of somehow collaborating on a refurb. He had an old timer he wanted me to look at and talk over with him. It came in the mail and I gave him a call with what I saw as I handled the pipe and took it apart. The list below gives some of my observations about the pipe as I checked it out carefully.

  1. The band is crooked and turned on the shank. It may take heating the band to it to loosen it.
  2. The silver hallmarks are an anchor, lion and a shield. The shield should have a letter in it to identify the year but it is worn away. The band is made in Birmingham, England, and it is Sterling Silver. As for the year, the best I can do is estimate; it lies within a 20 year period – 1876-1895. We would need to check the dates on Barlings made in the 1800s, to see when it fits into their history. That could narrow it down. It also may be an aftermarket band that was added to repair the shank.
  3. The only stamping is Barling in script. I cannot see an “s” on it and certainly no apostrophe. That should also help date it. The tail on the “g” hooks or curls under several other letters.
  4. The divot in the bottom edge of the shank, for lack of a better word, is not a worn spot in the shank – interestingly once I cleaned the shank I lined up a pipe cleaner in the centre of the divot and it is perfectly aligned with the drilling of the airway. With the pipe cleaner in place (think drill bit) the divot is gone and the walls are all equal. I am thinking this is the divot that is often found in Oom Paul or bent shapes to drill the airway straight to the bowl. I am going to give that a bit more thought before I step in with a repair to the shank. I may get away with building up the tenon instead.
  5. The bowl is in very good shape. I cleaned it out and the walls are all sound and the bottom of the bowl is also sound – no sign of damage to the briar; though the airway comes out a little high on the side of the bowl. I may need to smoke a cigar to make some pipe mud to raise the bowl bottom a bit!
  6. There is a little damage to the front outer edge of the rim but it has been rounded with time.  The inner rim was damaged by a reaming with a knife and is slightly out of round. I have already remedied that with sandpaper.
  7. The design of the tenon is very interesting. It is almost a reverse funnel (think inside of a funnel). The curvature at the tenon and step down is such that it provides a bit of a cooling chamber in the sump of the pipe almost like those new fangled calabash things that are hitting the market now.
  8. The vulcanite is very hard and does not seem to show any oxidation. I have seen that before on these old timers – they use a very good quality of rubber and maybe less sulfur in the mix to vulcanize it. Not sure but for some reason they hold the black colour without any browning.
  9. The stem has a few tooth marks – 2 on top and two on the bottom. Some minor tooth chatter as well.
  10. The silver band is also angled like it was put on crooked after it was misaligned. The hallmarks should be on the side but seem to be on the top.
  11. It appears that there is a crack in the shank that was repaired and then banded.

Chuck and I talked through this list a bit on the phone and then through pms on Smokers Forums and he left it to me to see what I could do with the old pipe. Here are some pictures of the pipe when it arrived. The finish was pretty much gone but there was some great looking grain underneath. The issues I pointed out above will be clearly visible by looking at the photos in the first series of three. All of the external issues are visible in these photos.


Once the stem was removed from the pipe several other issues became apparent. The biggest one that we discussed was the way the mortise was worn and out of round. You can see the dip or divot in the bottom of the shank that makes the mortise almost oval. Inside the mortise you can also see the tar buildup where the step down end of the tenon sat. It has the reverse of the shape of the step down. Where it had a curved shoulder between the tenon and the step down, the mortise had the reverse. The tars were built up to the point that the tenon step down sat firmly in place. The rest of the tenon was loose in the mortise as years of use had worn away a part of the mortise. The question we were left with once the pipe was cleaned was how to address the wear in the mortise and tighten up the fit of the tenon. The options were two:

  1. Build up the inside diameter of the mortise – this could be done by inserting briar and redrilling it or by using a build-up of glue and briar dust.
  2. Build up the outer diameter of the tenon – there are several ways of doing this including the use of clear nail polish or superglue applied to the tenon and then sanded to fit correctly.

Each method had a few issues involved in using them.

–          To build up the mortise with an inserted piece of briar would be difficult in that the mortise was no longer round and once the mortise was redrilled the walls of the briar plug would be very thin. Also the stem itself was cut to fit the out of round shape of the shank and mortise so it would have to be reshaped.

–          To build it up with glue and briar dust would work but be a bit hard to control the amounts and if it was built up too much removing it and sanding it would be difficult to control.

–          To build up the tenon with nail polish is a temporary fix and would need to be repeated over time and use. To use the superglue is more permanent but are there any long term effects from the use of the glue on the inside of the pipe. Even if, as in this case the tenon is not in contact with the mouth. The glue would only be used on the upper portion of the tenon and not on the step down portion.


Chuck and I discussed these options and issues and he left it to my judgment to choose one. I thought about it and laid aside the pipe for the night and came back to it in the morning. I examined the tenon and mortise once again to get another view of the problem before I worked on it. I inserted a pipe cleaner at the angle of a drill bit from the shank through the airway to the bottom of the bowl to see where the edge would land. The drilling of the shank matched the notch in the bottom of the mortise. It had been enlarged due to the age of the pipe and its use but it matched exactly. This influenced my decision where to go with the repair. Once that was decided it was time to work on the finish of the pipe and the internals. I dropped the bowl in the alcohol bath to let it soak and remove the grit, grime and old finish. I was hoping that the soak would also loosen the glue on the band so that I could turn it into the correct position on the shank. It soaked for about an hour and a half while I did other things. I removed it from the bath and laid it on my work table. The pictures below show it before I dried it off.


I steamed the dents on the top and also sanded out the remnants of them on the surface. I wiped down the bowl with acetone to remove any remaining finish on the bowl. I picked the thick tars in the sump of the shank and tapped out the crud that came loose. It took a lot of detailed picking to get the surface free of the build up. I then cleaned out the sump of the shank with many cotton swabs until they were clean. The picture below shows the pipe after the cleaning and wiping down with acetone. The second picture shows the rim with the dents removed and the roundness of the bowl restored.


After thinking through the options on the shank and the mortise situation I decided that the best way of dealing with this old war horse was not to build up the mortise and cause problems with the fit of the stem and shank but to work on the tenon on the stem. I had read elsewhere of the use of super glue to build up the tenon so I gave it a coating. The best way I have found it to work for me is to drip it on the tenon and turn it as it drips. The fluid thus gives the entire tenon an even coating. The first two pictures below show the tenon after the application of the layer. Once it was dry the tenon was obviously too big so I sanded it, while repeatedly checking for the fit. The third picture shows the tenon as it is now – a perfect snug fitting stem on the Barling this morning!


To highlight the beautiful grain in the pipe I used a brush dipped in black stain to follow the grain patterns on the bowl. I applied it with an art brush to give it a good coverage. Before applying the stain to the bowl I warmed the briar to open the pores in the wood to receive the stain deeply. The pictures below show the bowl after staining with the brush. It looks odd and actually less than charming but the process works as will be seen in the next series of photos.


After stain dried I sanded it with a fine grit sanding foam that allows me to follow the curves. I was careful around the faint stamping on the shank. Here is the pipe after it has been wiped cleaned with Isopropyl alcohol after sanding. The grain is highlighted well. The final picture below shows the grain on the front of the bowl.


I set aside the bowl for awhile and dealt with the tooth marks on the stem. After steaming them to raise them I sanded with 240 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining signs of the tooth marks and the tooth chatter. I then sanded with fine grit foam sanding pads to work out some of the scratches in the surface.


I did some more sanding with the micromesh sanding pads on the pipe bowl to get the black stain tamed a bit so that when I put the overstain on it would show through but not dominate. I wanted to get a stain on the pipe that fits the older Barling pipes that I have here so I thinned down some oxblood stain for the overstain. I applied it and flamed it. Then I took it to the buffer and with a light touch removed the excess and left a nice top coat of rich reddish brown stain with the black shining through to highlight the amazing grain on this old pipe. The three pictures below show the pipe with the stem on but the stem was not finished as it still showed some of the browning of oxidation.


From there I removed the stem again and sanded it with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sand paper and water. I finished the stem with 1500-6000 grit micromesh pads dipped in water to give bite to the sanding disks as I polished it. The way I use the micromesh is to dip it in water and then sand, dip again and sand again through the various grits until I am finished and the stem has some depth to its blackness. I coated the stem with several coats of Obsidian Oil and then a coating of wax by hand.


I put the stem back on the pipe and took it to the buffer. I buffed the whole thing with White Diamond and then cleaned the silver band with silver polish and polished the entire pipe with multiple coats of carnauba wax.