Tag Archives: KB&B pipes

Restoring a KBB Yello-Bole Premier Liverpool


Blog by Steve Laug

With this post I am celebrating notification from WordPress that rebornpipes is 8 years old. It does not seem possible that 8 years ago in May I posted the first blog on rebornpipes and wrote about my dream of the blog being a gathering spot for information and individuals who enjoy working on rehabilitation and restoration of pipes. I continue to do the work or restoration and rehabilitation of pipes because it is something I enjoy. It is a pleasure to take pipes that are a bit of a wreck and with some effort and careful work bring them back to life. The next pipe on the table is a great one to work on as a part of that celebration. It is a well smoked KBB Yello-Bole Premier Liverpool. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some tobacco remnants from the last bowl smoked. There was some darkening and lava around the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. There are a few visible fills around the bowl and the varnish coat is crackling. The taper yellow stem has tooth marks and chatter on both sides. Jeff took some great photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he started his cleanup. Jeff took a photo of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the lava overflow all over the rim top. It is hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looks like until we remove the cake and the lava.He took photos around the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition. You can see the grime in the finish and the crackling of the varnish coat. He took a photo of the stamping on the left topside of the shank. You can see that it is clear and readable. It reads KBB in a Cloverleaf followed by Yello-Bole over Cured with Real Honey followed by R in a circle. Underneath that it reads Premier over Imported Briar. Normally there would be stamping on the right side but in this case there does not appear to be any stamping visible.The next two photos show the condition of the stem. You can see that it is lightly oxidized and has some tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the button surfaces on both sides. I turned to the listing on Pipephil on the KBB Yello-Bole pipes and actually found a very similar pipe to the one I am working on (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-y.html). It is a KBB in a cloverleaf Yello-Bole that also bears the Cured with Real Honey, circle R stamp over Premier over Imported Briar. I did a screen capture of the section and the stamping on the shank side. I have included it below.I turned next to Pipedia to gather a more detailed history of the brand and see if I could find any information on this particular pipe (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Yello-Bole). I quote a portion of that article on tips for dating Yello-Bole pipes below.

Tips for Dating Yello-Bole Pipes

  • KBB stamped in the clover leaf indicates it was made in 1955 or earlier as they stopped this stamping after being acquired by S.M. Frank.
  • Pipes from 1933-1936 they were stamped “Honey Cured Briar”
  • Post 1936 pipes were stamped “Cured with Real Honey”
  • Pipe stems stamped with the propeller logo were made in the 1930’s or 1940’s – no propellers were used after the 1940’s.
  • Yello Bole used a 4 digit code stamped on the pipe in the 1930’s.
  • Pipes with the Yello-Bole circle stamped on the shank it were made in the 1930’s, this stopped after 1939.
  • Pipes stamped BRUYERE rather than BRIAR it was made in the 1930’s.

Following the tips above I learned that the KBB Stamped in a Cloverleaf indicates that the pipe I have was 1955 or earlier. The fact that it is stamped Cured with Real Honey puts it post 1936. The field is narrowing down for a date. The fact that the stem has the propeller logo puts it between the 30s and 40s. So now I have it narrowed down to between 1936 and 1949. That is as close as I am going to get with this one as the numbers are worn off the shank.

It is definitely an interesting piece of pipe history. Armed with the brand information and some parameters for the age of the pipe I turned to work on it. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cake from the walls of the bowl. He cleaned up any remnants of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He was not able to remove the bowl from the base so a thorough cleaning of the base was not possible. He worked on the rim edge lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and washed it off with warm water to remove the cleanser. The pipe looked far better. I took photos of the pipe when I received it before I started working on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem to show how clean they were. You can the roughness on the top and the inner edge of the rim on the front right side of the bowl. The bowl and rim looks much better without the thick lava and cake. The stem looked better. There was tooth chatter and marks were very visible on both sides of the stem near the button. I have included a photo of the propeller logo on the left side of the stem.I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. The stamping is faint but very readable and it reads as noted above. The right side of the shank is smooth- if there was any stamping it is long gone.I took a photo of the large fill on the underside and up the left side of the shank. It was hard but it had shrunk and left a divot.I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to show the overall look of stem, tenon and profile of the pipe. I noted that there was a small stinger apparatus that is removable in the tenon. I heated the stinger with a Bic lighter flame and was able to very easily remove it for more thorough cleaning of the tenon and airway in the stem.I decided to start my work on the pipe by dealing with the damaged rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I lightly topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to minimize the damage on the top. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damaged bevel on the rim edge. It is far from perfect but it is better. I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I worked over the rim top and edge of the bowl with the pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris.  I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the even that material. The balm is absorbed by the briar and gives it real life. I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The stem material is an early acrylic product (perhaps Bakelite) and does not respond like vulcanite when heated. I filled in the deep tooth marks with clear super glue. Once the repairs cured I used a needle file to smooth them out and to reshape the button edge. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  With both parts of the pipe finished, I polished the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The old KBB Yello-Bole Premier Liverpool polished up pretty nicely. The rich browns of the finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished yellow Bakelite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, well-made KBB Yello-Bole Liverpool. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This KBB Yello-Bole Premier Liverpool will be going on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipe Makers shortly. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this older American Made pipe.

Reworking a KB&B Bent Churchwarden


 Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is an interesting KB&B Churchwarden and that is how it is stamped on the left side of the shank. On the right it reads Italian Briar. It is an interesting piece of briar in that it is a mix of grains hidden beneath a dark coat of stain and a top coat of shellac. The briar was very dirty. The bowl had a thick cake overflowing like lava onto the rim top. It is hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looks like because it is buried under the cake and lava coat. The fit of the stem in the shank appeared to be a bit off but cleaning would make that clear. The long vulcanite stem was dirty and oxidized. It was calcified near the button. The bend on the stem was also too much leaving the bowl tipped downward when in the mouth. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. Jeff tried to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top with the next series of photos. You can see the work that is ahead of us in terms of cake and lava buildup. The grain around the bowl is quite stunning. Jeff took some great photos showing what is underneath the grime and debris of time and use. He captured the stamping on the both sides of the shank it read as noted above.The photos of the stem show the stem surface. It is dirty and has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.Now it was time to work on my part of the restoration of the pipe. Jeff had cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was in decent condition with a bit of buildup on the rim top but virtually no cake in the bowl. He cleaned up the bowl walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the light lava on the beveled rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. Once Jeff removed the lava on the inside edge of the rim top it was in pretty rough condition. There were cuts, nicks and burned areas all around the inner edge and the bowl was out of round from the damage. The outer edge of the bowl looked very good. The close up photos of the stem shows that it was very clean and there was some tooth marks and chatter on the stem just ahead of the button.The fit of the stem in the shank is off. It looked like the shank end had a slight cant to it and the stem did not seat evenly against the shank end. The gap was obvious and made worse by the fact that the diameter of the shank was less than that of the stem. It was worse on the top side and the right side. I checked the shank end and there was some damage there. I could top it lightly but that is a hit or miss proposition. I decided that I would see what a thin band did to the fit. I took some photos to try to capture what I was seeing at the shank stem junction. I went through my various bands. I had picked up a bag of older style bands that included a slight cap that went over the shank end. It was my thinking that this would smooth the surface of the junction for the stem. I heated the band with a lighter and pressed in place on the shank. It was a very tight fit and I liked the look of it. There is something about the look of these thin brass bands that just looks right on older pipes. I took photos of the bowl and the pipe at this point. I decided to address the over bent stem at this point since I was working on the pipe as a whole. I want the bent to be more in keeping with the top of the bowl so that when it sat in the mouth the line was even from the bend to the top of the bowl. I used a heat gun on the lowest setting to soften the vulcanite. To “unbend” is far easier than to bend. You heat the top side of the stem at the bend, constantly moving the pipe and the stem automatically begins to straighten. The key is to stop in time before it is totally straight! I paid attention and caught it at the right moment. I cooled the stem with water to set the new bend.With the shank/stem connection repaired and the bend in the stem reset I was ready to move on to dealing with the issues of the inner edge and rim top. I removed the stem and set it aside and took the bowl in my hands. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and give it a slight bevel to mask the damaged areas. Once the bowl is polished the bevel is hardly visible and the bowl looks better.I wiped off the remnants of the shellac finish on the bowl with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad. Once the finish was removed the grain began to really stand out nicely. I was happy with the way the rim top and edges looked so I moved on to polish the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain really began to stand out and the finish took on a shine by the last sanding pad. The photos tell the story! I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I laid the bowl aside and turned to deal with the stem. I sanded off the excess diameter at the shank with 220 grit sandpaper until the shank and stem were the same diameter. Unfortunately I utterly forgot to take photos of this part of the process. My photos pick up again when I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I was able to remove the scratching and tooth marks with the micromesh. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This KB&B Churchwarden was a fun pipe to work on. I knew that I had to do some work to bring it back to smooth transitions between the shank and stem and to get the bowl looking better and not so beat up. But I was very happy when I got to the point of putting it all back together and everything worked very well. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to highlight the different grain patterns on the pipe. The black vulcanite Churchwarden stem just adds to the mix. With the grime and debris gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and the grain just pops at this point.

I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank and stem during the process. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished KB&B Churchwarden is quite beautiful and is a classic bent Churchwarden shaped pipe. The finish on the bowl combines various stains to give it depth. It is very well done. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 10 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I really like the looks of this Churchwarden and it is a great looking pipe in great condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This pipe will be added to the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Beginning again – a KB&B Bakelite Blueline Cup and Ball Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked up this interesting Cup and Ball or Claw and Ball pipe somewhere along his hunts or in an auction. It is quite unique. I have worked on a lot of KB&B pipes but never one like this. It is stamp on the inside of the case with the KB&B Cloverleaf and Bakelite in the centre. Underneath it appears to read Blueline. The gold band on the shank end is also stamped with the KB&B Cloverleaf as well as what looks like 12K Gold Plate. Both the base of the pipe and the stem are Bakelite. The stem has a bone tenon that screws into the Bakelite shank. It came in a black leather covered case lined with blue velvet fabric. The only marking on the case was what I mentioned above. The case has a brass clasp on the front and brass hinges on the back. It was obviously custom made for this pipe.Jeff opened the case and this was what the pipe that was inside looked like. It was a very unique looking pipe that is for sure but it was also very dirty. The base, shank and stem were rich red coloured Bakelite. The exterior of the bowl was very dirty and had tars and oils ground into the finish and sticky spots on the finish. Looking at the top of the bowl you can see the cake and how much lava had overflowed onto the rim top. I am sure once it was out of the case it would become clear how dirty it really was.Jeff took it out of the case to have a better look at the condition of the pipe. It was a very interesting looking rendition of a Ball and Cup pipe – at least that is what I would call it. It looked like it would cleanup really well and look great when finished. The hardwood bowl (cherry or maple) had some colour from either being filthy or from age. Cleaning would reveal the facts! He took some close-up photos of the bowl and rim top. There was a very thick cake in the bowl that was hard and uneven and had lots of flakes of tobacco debris stuck to the walls. The lava overflowed down the outside of the ball on several sides. The edges of the bowl looked to be in pretty good condition at this point. Jeff took photos of the sides of the bowl to show the grain and condition of the finish around the bowl. These photos also lead me to conclude that the bowl is not briar… perhaps Cherry or Maple.In terms of stamping the only identifying marks on the pipe were those on the case on the gold band on the shank. Jeff captured those marks in the next set of photos. The logo on the inside lid of the case was worn and dirty so he included two photos of that. I also found a similar lid logo online and have included it as well for comparison sake. Jeff took photos of the KB&B Cloverleaf and the 12K Gold Plate stamp on the band.He took photos of the ball and the stem off the shank/base. The ball and the stem both are threaded and are screwed into the base. It was filthy with oils and tars. The internals of the pipe were in as bad a condition as the inside of the bowl and airway.Jeff took photos of the stem to show the general condition of the stem shape. The curve is graceful and the curve great. The photo shows the profile of the stem. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the damage and bite and scratch marks on both sides up the stem from the button.I remembered that one of the contributors to rebornpipes, Troy Wilburn had done a lot of work on older KB&B pipes so I turned to one of his blogs on rebornpipes on a Blueline Billiard that he restored (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/kbb-blue-line-pipes-with-bakelite-stems/). As expected Troy had done a great job digging into the Blueline brand and potential dates. I quote from his blog the following sections.

I was thinking after some initial research that these pipes were from around 1910 – early 1920s. Seems it’s a little older than I thought. I got this info from a Kaywoodie and early KBB collector who has had several Blue Lines.

Your pipe is made by Kaufman Brothers and Bondy, or KB&B, which later (1915) created the Kaywoodie line we all know. But this pipe is Pre-Kaywoodie, as they were making pipes under the KB&B branding from about 1900 to 1914. Bakelite was invented in 1907, so this pipe was likely made from 1908 to 1914, as the Bakelite was quite the technological wonder of the time, and was used in many products (still in use today). These “Blue Line Bakelite” pipes are rare pieces, seldom seen.”

Having seen the before pictures on this pipe I was looking forward to what it would look like when I unpacked the most recent box Jeff sent to me. The pipe was present in the box and I took it out of the box to see what work awaited me when I removed it from the case. I put the case on my desk and opened it to see what was there. I opened the case and took a photo of the pipe inside.I was astonished to see how clean the pipe was. The bowl clean and the Bakelite base and stem looked very good. Even the gold band looked better. Now it was time to take it out of the case and have a look at it up close and personal. I took photos of the pipe as I saw it. Jeff had done an incredible job in cleaning up this pipe. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe reamer and cleaned up the remaining debris with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He also scraped the thick lava on the rim top. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl base and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. The rim top looked incredible when you compare it with where it started. There is some slight darkening on the inside edge of the bowl. He cleaned the base and stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I included a photo of the KB&B Cloverleaf on the gold plated band.I unscrewed the bowl and the stem from the base and took photos of the parts. The bowl and stem both had threaded connectors. The bowl was metal and the stem was bone.I stripped the spotty finish off the bowl with acetone. I know for some this is a no-no for old pipes but honestly this finish was very rough. I would restain it as close to the original aniline as I could but there was damage that needed to remove the stain and finish to address. I followed that by sanding the bowl with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. The bowl was looking better and the dark spots turned out to be oils and not burn marks! Whew! I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. Note the developing shine on the wood. I went through my various stains and chose a Tan aniline stain for the bowl. It is a nice coloured stain that is close to what was original and will give me some coverage over some of the dark spots on the sides of the bowl. I applied the stain and flamed it with a lighter. The flaming burns off the alcohol and sets the stain in the wood. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage.I set the bowl aside to let the stain cure and turned my attention to the base. The band was loose so I removed it for the first round of pads. I polished the Bakelite with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratching and bring out a shine. I dry sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with a cloth I use that has Obsidian Oil impregnated in the fibres. It works well to remove the dust. I paused the polishing to glue the gold band on the shank end. I put some white all-purpose glue on the Bakelite and pressed the band in place on the shank. I wiped the excess glue off with a damp cloth. I let the glue dry for a short time.When it had set I continued polishing with the micromesh pads. I set the base aside and went back to the bowl. I buffed out the newly stained bowl with Blue Diamond to bring out a shine. The colour is opaque enough to hide the dark spots and transparent enough to show some grain in the sunlight. I like it!I rubbed Before & After Restoration Balm into the wood with my fingertips to clean, enliven and preserve the newly stained bowl. I find that it adds a depth to the polish that I really have come to appreciate. All that remains at this point is to wax and polish the bowl. With the bowl and the base finished it was time to put them back together. I would still need to buff and wax both but the project was coming to an end. All that remained was to finish the stem work. I set the base and bowl aside and turned to address the issues with the stem. I used a clear CA glue to fill in the gouges across the stem from the button forward an inch on both sides. I also filled in the deep tooth marks on both at the same time.I smoothed out the repairs with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. It is a gritty, red paste with the consistency of red Tripoli. I find that it works well to polish out scratches and light marks in the surface of the stem. I polished it off with a cotton pad to raise the shine.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I gave it a coat of Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect it. I put the hardwood bowl and Bakelite Base stem back together again and carefully buffed it with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl, base and stem multiple coats of Carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I hand buffed the entirety of the pipe with a microfiber cloth. The pipe was alive now and looked great to me. It has a great feel in the hand that is very tactile and the colouring on the bowl should develop more deeply as the pipe is smoked. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This older KB&B Blueline Cup and Ball pipe is a beauty and the Bakelite looks great with the newly stained bowl. It is one of those old timers that will be staying in my KB&B collection. It will be a great addition to my collection of old pipes. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Restoring a KBB Yello-Bole Double Carburetor Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on came in a recent box from my brother Jeff. It was another pipe he picked on one of the online auctions he frequents. It is interesting triangular shank Bulldog (Rhodesian??) with a smooth finish and twin rings separating the cap from the bowl. It also has twin carburetor’s or air “nipples” on the underside of the bowl. It is a shape I have not seen much of before. The pipe is stamped with the KBB Clover followed by DOUBLE CARBURETOR  over Yello-Bole over Reg US Pat Off.  On the underside of the triangular shank that made the pipe a sitter it is stamped Cured with Real Honey. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with a 4 digit shape number 4982. The grain showing through the grime and dirt is a mix or birdseye, cross and flame grain. It had a rich reddish brown stain and what looked like a varnish coat. There was a thick cake in the bowl and some light lava overflow. The inner beveled edge of the rim and top appeared to have some darkening under the grime. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was lightly oxidized with light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The button had some light damage to the sharp edge. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The inner bevel seems to have some darkening and potentially some burn damage but we would know better once it was reamed and cleaned.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the nicks and scratches in the grime. The beautiful grain shines through the rough and dirty finish. The photos of the heel and shank show the twin “nipples” or carburetors. They were plugged and did not allow the airflow they were designed for. The final photo of this set is a close up of the underside of the bowl and the carburetors. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping was very readable – on the left side it read as noted above. On the right side you can clearly see the shape number. The final photo shows the Cured with Real Honey stamp on the underside of the shank.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and light tooth damage to the stem surface and slight wear to the edges of the button.I decided to pause and do a bit of research on the pipe to figure out when the KBB Yello-Bole Double Carburetor Pipes were carved. The stamping provided many clues that were very helpful in pinning down the date of manufacture. I Googled the brand and line to see what I could find out. Here is what I found.

The first link to me to the Kaywoodie Group and a thread on dating this particular pipe. There was a helpful exchange between lifeon2 and Bosun about a pipe that is stamped in a similar manner to the one that I have. Here is a link to the full conversation: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/kaywoodie/dating-yello-bole-pipes-t86.html

lifeon2 writes: OK so there isn’t a lot of dating information for Yello-Bole pipes but here is what I have learned so far.

  1. If it has the KBB stamped in the clover leaf it was made 1955 or earlier as they stopped the stamping after being acquired by S.M. Frank.
  2. From 1933-1936 they were stamped Honey Cured Briar.
  3. Post 1936 pipes were stamped “Cured with Real Honey”
  4. Pipes stems stamped with the propeller logo they were made in the 30s or 40s no propellers were used after the 40s.
  5. Yello Bole also used a 4 digit code stamped on the pipe in the 30s.
  6. If the pipe had the Yello Bole circle stamped on the shank it was made in the 30s this stopped after 1939.
  7. If the pipe was stamped BRUYERE rather than briar it was made in the 30s.

(Information gathered from Pipedia – https://pipedia.org/wiki/Yello-Bole)

Bosun replies: the one I have is stamped on the left side of shank:

  1. Double Carburetor
  2. yello-bole
  3. u.s.pat.off
  4. with KBB to the left of the above

underside of shank has Cured with Real Honey

right side of shank has 4907

on top of stem is the white circle

lifeon2 replies: According to the list  I have it looks like you have a late 30s model, sweet

I also turned to a blog by Andrew Selkirk on rebornpipes that also added a degree of certainty to the date of manufacture of this pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/05/03/1934-35-yello-bole-carburetor/).

I can say with a fair degree of certainty that this pipe is from 1934 or 35. The carburetor patent was granted in 1935, this pipe is stamped “Pat Applied For.” Interestingly enough, it also has a patent number on the bottom of the shank. Additionally, the four digit number was used by Kaywoodie until 1936. The first two numbers indicate the finish and the second two numbers indicate the shape.

With that information in hand I knew what I was dealing with in terms of age of this pipe. I knew from the information from Pipedia that the KBB in a clover leaf stamp meant that the pipe was made before 1955. The Cured with Real Honey stamp placed the pipe as 1936 or after. The four digit shape code was used until 1936. The shape code on this one was 4982 thus it is another argument for 1936. The patent was given to KBB in 1935 so the stamped “Reg. US Pat. Off also places the pipe after 1935. The information that I have gathered helps me to know with a high degree of certainty that this Double Carburetor pipe was made in 1936. The first two numbers indicate the finish and the second two numbers indicate the shape. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. There was still some darkening on the front, rear and left side of the inner edge of the rim. The briar had what looked like a small burn mark on the surface of the left side – the pipe had been laid in an ashtray (I have circled it in red in the first photo below). There was no damage on the inside of the bowl. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. The rim top looks very good and you can see where I need to deal with the darkening on the inner bevel on the bowl. The bowl looked very good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show how well the cleaning had cleaned up what had appeared to be tooth chatter. There were still some light marks that would be easily polished out. There was not a logo anywhere on the stem and the stem did not have a stinger in the tenon.I started my cleanup on the inner edge of the rim by sanding the bowl and edge with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. This smoothed out any roughness on the portion that formed the bottom edge of the bevel. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the rest of the beveled inner edge of the rim and work on darkening present there and on the rim top.I polished the briar and worked on the darkening on the rim top and the burn mark on the left side of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. I was able to polish out most of the burn mark on the lower left side of the bowl. Once I finished polishing the bowl with micromesh I thought would be a good continuation of my experimentation with a new product from Mark Hoover of Before & After Products – a Briar Cleaner that has the capacity of absorbing grime and dirt from the surface of briar. I rubbed the bowl down with some of his Briar Cleaner to see how it would work in this setting. I rubbed it onto the bowl and rim top with my finger tips and worked it into finish of the bowl. I let it sit on the pipe for about 5 minutes before I rubbed it off with a microfibre cloth. I rinsed it under warm running water to remove the residue. I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the surface on the bowl looked when I was finished. With the pipe clean it was time to move on to rubbing the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The stem was in such great shape that I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. The micromesh took care of the remaining tooth chatter on the stem and button. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.  I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The shine on it makes the variations of colour really pop. The pipe polished up really well. The polished black vulcanite stem seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. The unique triangular shaped shank and stem fit nicely in my hand and when it warms with smoking I think it will be about perfect. The pipe is a beauty and it must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. There should be a lot of life left in this 1936 KBB Yello-Bole 4982 Bulldog.  Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners, we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

Cleaning up a Fascinating KBB Yello-Bole Premier Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

I am not sure where Jeff found this old pipe but I like it. Once again he showed that he has an eye for old and unique pipes. This one is a ¼ bent bulldog with a large bowl and a unique rustication pattern on the underside of the bowl and on the shank. The pattern on the shank was framed with smooth frames. The cap on the bulldog was also smooth above the twin rings. The bowl was coated with varnish or some shine coat that was worn off of the smooth part of the pipe but remained in the grooves. The rim top had a lot of dents and damage but that will become evident in the following photos. It was stamped on the left underside of the diamond shank on a smooth panel. It has the KBB in a cloverleaf and next to that it reads Yello-Bole over Cured with Real Honey. Next to that is the symbol for a registered trademark ® (R in a circle). Underneath it reads Premier over Imported Briar. On the stem is the propeller inset logo that appeared on older Yello-Bole pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff took some close up photos of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim. The bowl interestingly, still had some of the Yello-Bole Honey Cured coating on the top edge and the bottom half of the bowl. The rim and cap had been knocked hard on surfaces to empty the bowl. There was some lava and dirt on the rim top and the sides of the cap but there was very little cake in the bowl and the edges looked to be in good condition.Jeff also took photos of the bowl from various angles to show the condition of the finish. You can see the crackling varnish and dust in the grooves of the rustication. The varnish is worn off the smooth portions and high spots on the rustication. There is also dust and crackling varnish filling in the twin rings that separate the smooth cap from the rusticated lower portion. The stamping on the left underside of the diamond shank is clear and readable. The KBB in the cloverleaf has more wear than the rest of the stamping. You can also see the grime on the finish in the photo below. The second photo shows the propeller logo on the top left side of the diamond saddle stem.The stem was in decent condition. It was oxidized on both sides of the stem. There were some nicks and tooth marks on both sides near the button and on the top and underside of the button itself. There were no deep tooth marks which is really a relief.I went back to a previous blog about the various Yello-Bole logos in my collection of these pipes. I reread that blog to try to narrow down a date for the pipe. Here is the link to the post and the comments on the blog: https://rebornpipes.com/2013/01/25/yello-bole-logos-from-my-collection-of-old-yello-bole-pipes/. There was a comment on that blog that came from Troy who I consider my go to guy for Yello-Bole information (who has written on rebornpipes and also has a blog of his own). Troy wrote as follows on dating Yello-Bole pipes by the stamping and logos.

“I have a large KBB Yello-Bole collection. They are some of my most favorite pipes and the best smokers for the money (briar wise) you can find in my opinion. I have restored and researched them quite a bit. I have several listed on my blog that I have cleaned or restored. I own about 30-40 KBB Yello-Boles now.”

“Here is a little guide to dating KBB Yello-Boles. If it has the KBB stamped in the clover leaf it was made 1955 or earlier as they stopped the stamping after being acquired by S.M. Frank. From 1933-1936 they were stamped Honey Cured Briar. Pipes stems stamped with the propeller logo they were made in the 30s or 40s no propellers were used after the 40s. Yello-Bole also used a 4 digit code stamped on the pipe in the 30s. If the pipe had the Yello-Bole circle stamped on the shank it was made in the 30s this stopped after 1939. If the pipe was stamped BRUYERE rather than briar it was made in the 30s.” (NB. The portions above in bold and underlined were highlighted as they pertain to the present pipe.)

From that information I ascertained the following. The rusticated Premier Bulldog I had was stamped with KBB in the cloverleaf on the left underside of the shank which told me that the pipe was made before 1955. It had a propeller logo on the stem which further placed it in the period of the 30s and 40s. With all of that collected I knew the pipe was made between 1930 and 1949 which means that this old Bulldog has seen a lot of life. I wish it could tell its story.

Ah well… I don’t know for sure where it came from or what previous pipeman carried the trust of this pipe before it came to me. It still needed to be cleaned up. I turned my attention to the restoration of the Bulldog.

Jeff had worked his magic in cleaning up this pipe. It is nice to work on pipes that he has cleaned up once again. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove much of the crackling varnish in the grooves of the rustication and the briar beneath was in good condition. The cleaning of the stem left a light oxidation in the vulcanite. The tooth marks were clean but visible. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took some photos of the rim top and cap to show what it looked like after Jeff had cleaned off the grime and tars. The briar was in good condition but there were some deep gouges and scratches in the flat top and there were knock marks all around the cap surface. The stem was oxidized and showed tooth chatter and wear but it was otherwise in good condition. There were no deep tooth marks.I started my work on this pipe by lightly topping the bowl to remove the damage to the surface of the rim. It did not take too much topping to remove the damaged areas.I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the varnish that remained. I worked it into the grooves of the rustication with a brass bristle wire brush. Once I was finished the finish was clean and the grain looked really good on the cap and the rim top. The rustication was clean. I took photos of the bowl after the clean up to show the condition of the bowl at this time. It is beginning to look really good. In the third photo below you can see the Yello-Bole Honey Coat still present on the walls of much of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the nicks in the surface of the cap and to smooth out the small nicks around the outer edge of the flat rim top. I polished the rim top and the smooth portions of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar to enliven, clean and preserve it. I rubbed it in with my fingertips working it into the briar. I worked it into the nooks and crannies in the rustication on the bowl and the shank a shoe brush. I set it aside for a little while to let the balm do its work. I buffed it off with a cotton cloth and then buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The photos below show the pipe at this point in the restoration process. I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth chatter and the oxidation off the surface of the vulcanite. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil and took some photos of the stem at this point.I polished the stem using micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then buffing on the wheel with red Tripoli. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit pads to further polish it. After each pad I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil to protect and enliven the stem. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. When I finished with the polish I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. This older rusticated KBB Yello-Bole Premier Bulldog is an interesting and unusual piece. The rustication on the bowl is really unusual and the framing of it on the shank is quite unique. The smooth rim and cap is quite nice and has some birdseye and swirled grain undulating in the briar. The reddish brown of the bowl and the black of diamond vulcanite stem contrast well together. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine on the briar and the vulcanite. I lightly buffed the rim top and shank end as well. I was careful to not buff the stamping and damage it. I gave the smooth parts bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand waxed the rustication with several 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 dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside Diameter: 2 inches, Diameter of the chamber: ¾ of an inch. It is an interesting old pipe and should make a great collectible piece. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

The Worst Pipe I Ever Bought


Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the Author except as cited
https://www.facebook.com/roadrunnerpipes/

Look beneath the surface; let not the several quality of a thing nor its worth escape thee.
— Marcus Aurelius (121 AD – 180 AD), Roman Emperor, in Meditations

NOTE: My decision to post this blog was difficult because of my failure thus far to restore the pipe to a suitable condition.  The project remains a work in progress.  I now know what needs to be done to finish the job and will discuss those steps after the “Restoration” I offer now in a guileless attempt to show what horrors can follow the online purchase of a pipe that is just plain rotten to the core – a Frankenstein, if you will.  Still, this is no excuse for my frustrating defeat.  Maybe I should have extended the title to add “and the Worst Restoration I Ever Committed.” RMB

INTRODUCTION

Old Marcus knew what he was about, and his meditation on recognizing the full potential of a thing speaks to this precise pipe in an almost prescient way.  I wish I could say I always heed the sage advice, but I cannot tell that big a lie.  In the case of this tiny, smooth (in the roughest sense of the word), straight apple purported to be a Kaufman Brothers and Bondy Rocky Briar apple, I failed to a degree that does not now escape me in the least.  Where I should have listened to the voice in my head that screamed how the color was just wrong – not red or maroon but what I call Chinese Fake – part of me didn’t care because it was so cheap.  As it turned out, that term took on more than one meaning as well.  Where the numerous photos of the pipe offered for examination online showed blatant signs of serious damages, visions of repairing each of them overcame my usual better instincts and blinded me to the obvious conclusion that something still graver was hidden.  The result, as I suggested in my opening Note, is the absolute worst job of repairing a pipe I have ever made.  And so, when I opened the petite package that arrived soon enough in the mail and absorbed the monstrous truth, all that saved me from an explosion of temper was the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” from Monty Python’s Life of Bryan, and particularly the opening.

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle,
And this’ll help things turn out for the best.

I mean, what else could I do but whistle, other than spend more than it was worth in return postage to the seller who went out of his way to hide the one definite fatal flaw, which was a pin-point hole in the bowl?  Oh, but if only that were the sole point at issue with this small yet abominable pipe!  Here are the sometimes poor but always honest pics I snapped with my old cell phone, showing every detail. The actual unique Chinese Fake color shows best in the fifth and sixth photos, close on the front and top with the latter including the stripped end of a small paper clip inserted through the hole it penetrated with precision.  This inexplicable tunnel, by the way, has no signs of being caused by a burnout.  It’s as if someone deliberately pierced through the dubious wood to test its physical density, perhaps a previous owner who was as doubtful as I that it’s briar.

The next shot above reveals the approximate length, beside the pack of six-inch long cleaners, to be a little more than an inch short, or the size of a salesman sample.  If the pipe were a real KBB, without the ampersand as shown in the nomenclature pic – and I’m stating categorically that I do not believe it is – then it would date to the early 20th century, at least pre-1930s.  More about that later.

Now, a little extra info about the size, which would be expected to make the pipe light.  But this thing has so little density as to be comparable to holding your empty palm before you and imagining a visible cloud of radon, the heaviest noble gas at 4.4 g/cubic cm, floating there!  Okay, okay, for those who don’t go in for such sarcasm, compare the weight at most to a strip from the tail end of a classic Guillow’s Balsa Wood Flying Machine Kit.  And that’s no exaggeration.

Returning to the veracity of the dainty pipe’s origins having any connection to KB&B, take a close look at the Reg US Pat No in the last shot above.  The number is 298978, which is a known KB&B Patent even though neither I nor anyone else I found searching online for a copy seems able to find one.  However, the number is fortunate in having two instances each of the numerals 9 and 8.  Now give the nomenclature still more scrutiny, and you’ll see neither pair is the same.  That is, the 9s don’t match each other any more than the 8s.  This sort of inconsistency just doesn’t happen in Patent stamps on pipes made by legitimate brands.  The two 8s are easier to spot the problem: the one at the end of the first half of the number is in the form of two separate tiny zeroes, one atop the other, while the final digit clearly shows a connection, or intersection, of the halves.  There’s also the absence of any shape number on the right shank that is present on every real Rocky Briar ever made.  Here are the two pertinent pictures again, this time followed by genuine KBB Rocky Briar examples.  Never mind the glare on the right shank of my fake; you won’t spot any number on the successive views following the worthless pipe’s restoration either.

See the weakness of the marks on my pipe as opposed to the crispness of the others.  Also note the varied but normal stain colors of the three authentic specimens, which can be viewed better at links in the sources, compared to the obvious dodgy glaze or varnish that clings to the questionable wood of mine as though still desperately trying to gain purchase.  I’ve made my point, but I’m sure those who doubt the very real and common existence of pipe forgeries will insist I just got my hands on a bad apple if I may be allowed the pun.

RESTORATION

Let’s escape the hideous stummel altogether for the short time possible and start with the bit.  At least it’s Vulcanite for sure!Cleaning the bore with isopropyl alcohol was easy.  I suspect nobody who ever smoked the pipe did so more than once.Having read in this forum that using a small, relatively soft Brillo pad is a less invasive way to begin smoothing a bit, that’s how I began.  You’ll notice I still needed some practice with the method that was new to me.Then I gave it a wet micro mesh all the way from 1500-12000 with my older kit.And the same dry treatment with my newer kit.I recall using my Bic to pull out the minor chatter but seem not to have bothered recording the step.  Anyway, here’s how it worked out – a little dark, I apologize.Alright, fun time’s over.  For the stummel, I commenced the process that at times made me despair of the point of it all with the 150-grit side of a sanding pad.  At least I achieved a spotty resemblance to briar.See?  Still no sign of a shape number.

Here the thought that someone poked that hole in the bowl on purpose will seem a little saner.  My only guess at the cause of the glaring black mark, like a dark shape from a photo of the moon, is that it’s some weird sort of filling.  Check out the wear around the shank opening.  Does that look like briar?I gave the outer wood another full micro mesh progression, and it even started to look somewhat prettier. I stuffed the pin hole, from the chamber side, with wood putty and sealed the outer bowl side with Super Glue using the same exposed end of the paper clip from earlier.  Later I know I smoothed it with several of the finest micro mesh pads, but again didn’t record it.The next step was giving the wood a real stain.  I used Lincoln Brown Leather Dye and flamed it with my Bic.Hoping to obscure the dreadful damage to the front of the pipe with the darkness of the stain, I micro meshed from 3600-12000.  Everything was fine at that point but the front view. This is when the whistling stopped for the last time, and the gloves came off.  If the foul spot wouldn’t play nice, I rationalized, I’d just have to get rough.  And so, in inexcusable anger, I took 220- and 320-grit papers to the whole misbegotten stummel, micro meshed all the way one last time and gave the wood a few spins of carnauba.  Again, all but the final step went un-photographed, so ready to be done with the mess was I.  Somewhere in all the above steps I did retort the pipe.

Alrighty, then, here I go with the frankly awful results.Take a deep breath with me, as here comes the most deplorable result of my efforts, and the remainder.

Any doubters of the notion that this pipe is a forgery should consider the final closeup of the nomenclature showing the mottled stem mark.  Compare it again to Steve’s salesman sample stem crisp logo.

CONCLUSION

Embarrassment does not begin to describe the thoughts I’m having as I finish up this shameful example of how badly things can go when emotions are allowed to interfere with the task of dealing with each stage of a pipe restoration.  The work shown here was set aside at least a year ago in sheer disgust and mental exhaustion after setting out with such lofty ideals.  The fact that I knew I would never offer the pipe for sale and kept it for my own perverse enjoyment does nothing to mitigate my responsibility for the outcome.

I have not given up – I never do – but only taken the time to gird myself for the final confrontation.  In fact, it should be simple now, a mere matter of gentle sanding to remove the obvious abundance of scratches followed by another round of micro mesh, then re-staining the stummel dark brown or maybe maroon before the final electric buffing with carnauba.  And, of course, fixing the stem alignment.

Marcus Aurelius really had it right with the opening quote.  Quality and value are to be found in everything, regardless of the degrees.  My job remains to bring out the full potential for this faux KBB.

SOURCES

http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-kbb.html#rockybriar
https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/new/peterson/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=40705
https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/united-states/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=200676
https://rebornpipes.com/2016/08/12/restemming-and-restoring-a-tiny-kbb-rocky-briar-1540b-salesmans-pipe/
https://forums.arrowheads.com/forum/information-center-gc33/fakes-frauds-reproductions-authentication-gc94/identifying-fakes-reproductions-gc95/123908-pipe-smoking-instrument-fakes
http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/warning-fraudster-on-ebay-selling-counterfeit-eltangs-possibly-castellos-etc
https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/new/castello/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=272648
https://pipedia.org/wiki/Kaywoodie
https://rebornpipes.com/2014/12/15/narrowing-down-a-date-for-kaufman-brothers-bondy-kbb-and-kbb-pipes/

Reclaiming a Hard Smoked KB&B Borlum Unbreakable Stem Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next restoration on my worktable was a Borlum Bent Billiard. It came to me in the lot of older pipes that my brother brought home from our virtual pipe hunt in Montana. It was in rough condition with the finish very worn and almost non-existent. The bowl had a thick cake that had overflowed the bowl onto the rim top. The previous owner had obviously loved this pipe and the condition was testimony to it being a great smoker. He also seemed to have a very utilitarian view of his pipes. This one appeared to have never been cleaned – a veritable stranger to the aid of a pipe cleaner. The outer edge of the bowl had been knocked about a lot and there was lots of damage to the edge – it was broken down and rounded all the way around. He had obviously knocked the pipe out on a fence, a rock or his boot heel when finishing a bowl. There were dings and nicks in the sides and bottom of the bowl. The stem was oxidized and had some tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. Jeff took the next photos of the pipe before he started to work on cleaning it.From an earlier Borlum pipe that I had refurbished back in 2014, I had learned a lot about the background of the manufacturer of the brand. I quote from that blog to summarize the historical background of the pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/kbb-borlum-pipes/). The italicized portions of the text come from the blog with minor edits.

I already knew that Kaufmann Brothers and Bondy was the oldest pipe company in the USA, established in 1851. The Club Logo predated Kaywoodie with the “KB&B” lettering stamped within the Club, and a multitude of KB&B lines were in production long before “Kaywoodie” first appeared in 1919. Therefore, I knew that the pipe I had was a pre-1919, pre-Kaywoodie KB&B Made BORLUM.

This particular pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank with the words BORLUM in an arc over KB&B in a cloverleaf. The cloverleaf is faintly stamped but still readable with a bright light and lens. Underneath that it is stamped ITALIAN BRIAR in a reverse arc. On the right side of the shank it is stamped UNBREAKABLE BIT. As stated above it was made before Kaywoodie became the flagship name for pipes from Kaufman Brothers & Bondy (KB&B). It was made before the Kaywoodie invention of the “Stinger” was added, and even before shank logos, model stamps and other features invented by Kaywoodie came to be standards of the pipe making industry. It comes from a time when names like Ambassador, Heatherby, Melrose, Suez, Rivoli, Cadillac and Kamello dominated the pre-Kaywoodie scene. Borlum is one of those names.

I learned while researching for that blog and rediscovered while working on this one that the Borlum pipe featured some innovations that were new for the time but commonplace to us. These included (1) a solid rubber bit (vulcanite, ebonite), (2) an aluminum inner-tube construction in the stem that stabilized and strengthened the stem explaining the stamping of “Unbreakable Bit” on the right side of the shank, (3) a standard nickel-plated band (marked KB&B) to strengthen the shank connection for the stem. (This particular pipe does not have the nickel-plated band and does not appear to have had one).The stem features the older style more rounded bit tip/orific button, and you can see the aluminum inner-tube fitting just inside the tip.

I have included several pictures that I found on the internet that show the unique stem tube in the Borlum that gives rise to the claim that it has an Unbreakable Bit. The first photo shows the bent stem, third from the left with the same metal tube showing at the button. The second photo shows the other end of the tube in the tenon in the Borlum stem. That told me that the pipe I had was made after 1851 and before 1919. I am guessing that because of the other pipes in this lot dating in the late 1890s to about 1905 this one is probably from that same era. Not too bad for a 100+ year old pipe. During the hunt for information, I also found the next photo of a Borlum display and sales card. What is particularly interesting to me is the diagram at the top of the card showing the interior of the stem in place in the shank. It also includes the claim, “Guaranteed against Breakage”. I love the advertisements and sales brochures of these old pipes. The descriptive language that promises so much and the prices the pipes sold for are a nostalgic journey to the past. Note the $1 and up price tag on the sales card.

The pipe that I am working on presently is identical to the bottom pipe on the right side of the photo. I have circled it in red. It has the identical shape, curved shank and lack of a nickel-plated band as mine. It has the hard rubber stem with an orific button. It is more rounded than the modern flat stem but it is still a comfortable feeling stem in the mouth.

Jeff took some close up photos of the pipe bowl to give an idea of the condition of the pipe before we started to work on it. The first two photos show the sides of the bowl. You can see from those photos that the bowl is in rough shape. The outer rim has a lot of damage to it and the finish is worn and tired.The next two photos show the rim top and the clean bowl. Note how beat up the edge of the rim is in both photos. The third photo below shows the heel of the bowl and all of nicks and dents in the surface of the briar. The stamping on the left side of the shank and the right side of the shank is readable in the next two photos.The next photos show the condition of the stem. It is oxidized and there is a dark line across the top of the stem that looks like a crack. Under a bright light there is no crack visible, it is merely a mark on the vulcanite.Jeff rarely varies his established process for thoroughly cleaning the pipes he sends to me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and touched it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. He worked over the rim and removed the lava overflow. He scrubbed it with a tooth brush and the oil soap until he removed the buildup and clean up the damaged edges of the rim. The grain on this pipe is quite stunning. He soaked the stem in an Oxiclean bath to bring out the oxidation and scrubbed the debris from the exterior of the stem. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. I took a close up of the rim to show the damaged condition of the edges. It really is a mess and will be an interesting restoration. The idea is to get it back to a smooth condition without changing the profile of the pipe.A lot of the grime and grit on the stem disappeared in the OxiClean soak. The dark line on the top left of the stem disappeared and showed that there were no cracks in the “Unbreakable Bit”. There were some tooth marks on both sides of the stem near the button. The ones on the underside were definitely deeper. The last photo below shows the inner tube from the button end view.I decided to try something a little different this time around on the removal of the oxidation. Months ago I had purchased some Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer from a guy on Facebook. His name is Mark Hoover and he is on the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society Group on Facebook. He has a pen making site where you can email and order the deoxidizer and the polishes (http://www.lbepen.com/). I have actually never used it according to the directions. I have sponged it on and scrubbed it off. In talking with Mark the concept was simple – put the stem in the Deoxidizer to soak. The Deoxidizer will do its work and leave the stem oxidation free. With a bit of skepticism I poured the mixture into a tray and set the stem in it to soak overnight.I worked on the bowl for a while that evening before calling it a day. I lightly topped the bowl to remove some of the damage on the top surface of the rim and leave a flat, smooth surface. I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the dust. I carefully filled in the outer rim edge with clear super glue to build up the chipped and damaged areas. I think that this is the first time that I have worked on a pipe with this much damage and chipping all the way around the outer rim. It did not take too long for the glue to dry and when it did I sanded the outer edge of the rim smooth blending the fills into the surface of the briar and ‘sharpening’ the edge itself. The photos that follow tell the story. When I finished smoothing out the fills I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the sanding dust and check to make sure I had sanded the rim edge enough. If any spots are still too large and not blended they will show up glaringly when the bowl is stained. I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain mixed 50/50 with isopropyl alcohol. I flamed the stain on the bowl and repeated the process until the coverage was even. I set the bowl aside for the evening. In the morning I “unwrapped” the bowl (borrowing one of Dal Stanton’s terms) to see what the stain had done. I wiped it down with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent. Once I finished it was still too dark to my liking and obscured the grain too much. I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to remove more of the stain. After sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads I wiped it down with a bit of alcohol on a cotton pad and I was pleased with what I was seeing. I polished it some more with 3200-12000 grit pads and finished by giving it a light buff with a microfiber cloth. Now the colour was what I was aiming for – a reddish brown that highlighted the grain and muted the repairs and some of the imperfections.  I buffed the bowl on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond polish and hand buffed it with a cloth. The following photos show what the finish looked like after the buffing. I still needed to wax it but I really liked what I saw. I took the stem out of the deoxidizer bath and wiped it down with cotton pads. The bath definitely had removed much of the oxidation and wiping it down afterward it was clear to see how much had come off the brown looking stem. I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway to remove the deoxidizer from the inside of the pipe. The stem clearly looked better than when I had started. The surface was dull and there was still some stubborn oxidation on the curve. The tooth marks in the surface are very visible in the photo of the underside of the stem.I painted the tooth marks with the flame of a lighter to lift them as much as possible and filled in the remaining tooth marks with clear superglue. I chose to use the clear super glue rather than black as I have found it blends better with the hard rubber stems on these older pipes. When the repair had dried I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the area on the underside and used a needle file to sharpen the edge of the button on the top and underside.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 the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil and after the final pad gave it a last coat and set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and then gave the pipe mulitple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am not a 100% happy with the stem – the flash seems to reveal some more oxidation in it but to my eye it looks fine. I will do some more polishing and buffing to get it do the rich black that my eye sees but the camera does not at this point. Ah well, the refurbisher’s work is never finished. Thanks for looking.