Tag Archives: KB&B pipes

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.

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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.

 

 

Spiffing up a KBB Blue Line Bakelite Poker 1908-1914


Blog by Troy Wilburn

Here is my old KBB I got from EBay after some light cleaning and buffing. I had found out these were quite rare and was lucky to win the bid on it.

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.”

All Blue Lines came with a case but sadly the one for this one is missing. Most pics I’ve seen so far of the Blue Lines, the metal banding has stampings of Sterling Silver and KBB. Mine has none and I don’t believe it’s silver (I think nickel as I could not get all the discoloration from it). Mine may be a lower priced model.

The pipe as it arrived.Blue1 The pipe was in remarkable shape for its age. It was not caked up and the pipe was nice and clean, ready to smoke. All I did was go over it very lightly with some 2500 grit and 000 steel wool over the banding lightly. Then I applied some light buffing and a new coat of wax. The pipe was too original to mess with much .The stem has a gorgeous red color that was bought out with a little brown and then white Tripoli before waxing.Blue2

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Blue7 The stampings are very nice for a 100 year old pipe. As you can see it looks like it was repaired once. The repair looks quite old in person and don’t think it was done anytime recently.Blue8

Blue9 It’s a smaller poker. It is in between the size of a Medico Poker and a Dr.Grabow 85 Poker. It’s around 4 11/16 inch long with a 1 1/2 tall bowl. I will probably dedicate it to my new favorite flake tobacco.Blue10

Restoring a KB&B Doc Watson – Andrew Selking


Blog by Andrew Selking

My wife and I enjoy browsing antique shops and last weekend checked out a new shop. They didn’t have many pipes, most were worn out drug store pipes, but this one little pipe stood out. The first thing I notices was the fantail stem and interesting inlay on the stem. I picked it up and discovered that it was a rusticated panel billiard shape, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I pulled the stem from the shank and saw a very unusual stinger/tube apparatus. The stem looked like it was hand cut, very thin and the button had nice clean angles. From what I found out about KB&B pipes, the clover leaf without the ampersand was from the 1930s. The best part was the price, $4.95! Here is what the pipe looked like, thick cake, but otherwise not too bad.KBB1

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KBB3 I missed some of the documentation process, but I cleaned the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a toothbrush. I decided to remove the stinger, which I accomplished with a heat gun, but still save it for the historical value. I then soaked the stem in Oxyclean. It had a lot of tar build up as you can see from this picture.KBB4 Next I turned my attention to the bowl. This is a very small bowl, my smallest reamer didn’t fit, so I ended up using a pen knife to carefully remove the cake.KBB5

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KBB7 With the bowl clean and the stem started, it was time for the retort. Normally when I put cotton balls in the bowl I can fit three or four, this bowl only fits one.KBB8 Although the stinger allowed for a lot of tar build up, it kept the shank much cleaner than most. After a few q-tips it was clean.KBB9 The stem was just as dirty as the shank, but the retort made the job of removing tar a breeze.KBB10 You can see from what boiled out just how much tar the stem had.KBB11 The first couple of fuzzy sticks dipped in rubbing alcohol came out very dirty, but it was mostly tar and it didn’t take long before they came out clean.KBB12

KBB13 Since the outside of the bowl was already clean, I used a progression of micro mesh pads, starting at 6000 and worked up to 12,000 to polish the bottom of the shank and the high spots on the bowl. I used 400 grit wet/dry with water to remove the oxidation from the stem then switched to micro mesh pads (1500-2200) with water.KBB14 I finished the stem with the full progression of micro mesh pads through 12,000 grit to get a nice polished finish to the stem. I tried something different this time. Rather than use the buffing wheel I just used the Halcyon II wax and a soft cloth. We’ll see how that holds up. Here’s what the finished pipe looks like.KBB15

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Restoring an older KB&B Borlum Dublin


I was gifted a small KB&B Dublin from a friend on Smokers Forums. I always like to know what I am working on when restoring old pipes so I did a bit of digging into the stamping on the pipe and found the following information. 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. So I knew that the pipe I had was a pre-1919, pre-Kaywoodie KB&B Made BORLUM Dublin.

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It is stamped BORLUM in an arc over KB&B in a cloverleaf. Underneath it is stamped ITALIAN BRIAR in a reverse arc. All of the above is stamped on the left side of the shank. On the right side of the shank it is stamped UNBREAKABLE BIT. 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 the time when names like Ambassador, Heatherby, Melrose, Suez, Rivoli, Cadillac and Kamello dominated the pre-Kaywoodie scene. Borlum is one of those vintage names.

The Borlum pipe featured some innovations which were new for the time but commonplace to us: (1) A solid rubber bit (vulcanite, ebonite), (2) aluminum inner-tube construction in the stem thus marked “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. 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 to show the unique stem tube that the Borlum has. The first photo shows the type of stem the pipe has. My little Dublin has a stem that is shaped like the second stem from the left but includes the same metal tube that shows in the bent stem, third from the left. The second photo shows the tenon end of the stem and the other end of the metal tube in the Borlum stem. It is the inclusion of the tube that gives rise to the claim that is stamped on the shank – Unbreakable Bit. The third photo below is 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 these old pipes and the prices they sold for back in the day. Note the $1 and up tag on the sales card. pipe139 Exif_JPEG_PICTURE pipe137 The pipe that was a gift to me is similar to the Dublin at the bottom left of the above card. It has the same shape and straight shank. It also has a similar profile. The difference is that min has a shank band which is also part of the unbreakable system of these pipes. I guess they found that an unbreakable stem can still leave a breakable shank. The band stabilizes the shank and makes the pipe more indestructible. The band is stamped with the Club/Cloverleaf with KB&B in the center and under that Nickel Plated. It adds a touch of class to this little Dublin. The pipe was gifted to me by Jim Wagner from Smokers Forums. I recently refurbished an older KBB Yello-Bole and Jim said he had this one. It came this week and I took it on today. The pipe was in good shape when I took it out of the shipping package. The finish was clean but the rim had a few minor issues. There was a slight darkening near the back of the bowl and there were some ripples in the varnish finish on the rim. The cake was thin and even. The bowl was in round. The nickel band and the stem showed oxidation. I really like these old timers with the orific buttons. They are more rounded than the modern flat stem but are very comfortable in the mouth. Jim had mentioned that the stem was a hard material. In cleaning it up I found that it was indeed vulcanite or vulcanized rubber. It was hard but not as hard as an acrylic stem. There were no bite marks in the stem and minimal tooth chatter near the button. It was a beautiful old pipe that truly did not show it 100+ year age. IMG_7848 IMG_7849 IMG_7850 IMG_7852 I reamed the bowl lightly with a PipNet reamer to smooth out the thin cake. I cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. I kept at it until the cleaners came out the same way they went into the shank – white.IMG_7858 IMG_7856 In order to address the issues with the rim I wiped it down with acetone on a cotton pad and then gently sanded it with an extra fine grit sanding sponge. My intent was not to top the bowl but to smooth out the ripples of the varnish and remove some of the darkening. In checking it out the darkening was not deep in the briar but merely on the surface so this method would remove the damage. IMG_7861 IMG_7862 I wiped the bowl and shank down with the acetone and cotton pads to clean off the slight darkening of the finish. I wanted to remove the varnish coat so that I could use just wax on the bowl. I did not want to remove any of the colour/stain. I wanted to leave the colour/patina intact with no change. IMG_7863 IMG_7864 IMG_7865 IMG_7866 I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and medium and fine grit sanding sponges. I shone a flashlight on the stem to highlight the oxidation and continued to sand with this combination until the brown/green hue was gone and the stem was a dull black. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and then sanded it with my usual array of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with the Obsidian Oil after each set of three micromesh pads. IMG_7872 IMG_7873 IMG_7874 I polished the nickel band with a silver polishing cloth and then used the higher grits (6000-12,000) of micromesh on it to polish it further. I buffed the pipe and stem with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax, buffing with a soft flannel buff between applications of the wax. The finished pipe is shown below. It has been restored with little intrusion into the original shape or finish and is ready for many more years ahead. Thanks Jim for the beautiful little Dublin that you have added to my collection. IMG_7875 IMG_7876 IMG_7878 IMG_7879