Tag Archives: Lifting tooth dents in vulcanite with a lighter

Beautification of an American Made Bertram Washington DC Grade 50 Bent Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. We picked up over 120 Bertram pipes from an estate that a fellow on the east coast of the US was selling. This next one is from that estate – a beautifully grained Bent Apple Grade 50 Bertram with a tapered vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the lower left side side near the bowl with the Grade 50 number. Higher up on the left side it is stamped Bertrams [over] Washington D.C. centered on the shank. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim, heavier toward the back of the bowl. The edges looked okay other than some potential burn damage on the back inner edge. The stem was lightly oxidized, dirty and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. Like the rest of the Bertrams in this lot the pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the rim top. The lava was thicker toward the back of the rim and there were remnants of tobacco on the walls of the thickly caked bowl. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some nice grain under the grime. He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The grade number is 50.       As I have worked on Bertrams I have written on the brand and have included the following information. If you have read it in past blogs, you can skip over it. If you have not, I have included the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them take some time to read the background. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. Bertram graded their pipes by 10s and sometimes with a 5 added (15, 25, 55 etc.), the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I have worked on one 120 Grade billiard. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/). I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I learned that all of these Bertrams were made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Bent Apple has a stunning a mix of grain around the bowl. This pipe has a 50 Grade stamp on it which I am sure explains the quality of the briar. But like many of these Bertrams the Grading system is a mystery to me.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top had some darkening on the back of the bowl. The inner edge of the rim looked very good with no damage. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.   I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. The Bertram Washington DC is toward the top of the left side mid shank. Lower on the left side of the shank is stamped the Grade 50 number. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the darkening on the rim top of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the darkening and I like the looks of the rim top.  I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.      I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks on the surface. I was able to lift the tooth marks. What was left I sanded out with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.    I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. It was in very good condition so I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This Bertram Washington DC Grade 50 Bent Apple with a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Bertram 50 Apple fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!  

Breathing Life into a Parker Super Bruyere793 Billiard from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

I have only 11 more of Bob’s pipes to finish before I have completed the restoration of his estate so I am continuing to work on them. The next one from Bob Kerr’s Estate is Parker Super Bruyere billiard. It is a nice looking Billiard pipe with nice grain. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs that include the biographical notes about Bob. Here is a link to one of them (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

The Parker Super Bruyere Billiard has a taper vulcanite stem. It is a smooth finished bowl and shank that has a lot of dust and debris ground into the finish of the briar. The pipe is stamped on both sides of the shank. On the left it is stamped with the shape number793 followed by Parker over Super in a Diamond over Bruyere. On the right it is stamped with the number 2 in a circle followed by Made in London England. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. There was tobacco debris stuck on the bottom and sides of the bowl. The tapered vulcanite stem was calcified, oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. It had the Parker Diamond P stamp on the topside of the stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup. As I mentioned above the exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like because of the lava.    Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl.       The next photos show the stamping on both sides of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable as noted above. There is also a stamped Diamond P on the top of the tapered stem.   The stem was dirty, calcified and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button.      I have worked on quite a few Parkers over time and I have seen them stamped like the one I have however, there as a superscript after the D in England. I turned to Pipedia to see what I could find out a Super Bruyere without a date code(http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-parker.html). I have included a screen capture of the section showing a similarly stamped pipe. With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. Bob’s pipes were generally real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. I was surprised to see how well it turned out. 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. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and 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 a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.    I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top had some darkening but the inner and outer edges of the bowl were in excellent condition. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.    I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank. The stamping on both the left and right side are clear and readable as noted above.    I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. The oxidation is very visible.I decided to start my part of the restoration work on this pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and inner edge first. I topped the bowl on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board to smooth out the damage. I used a folded piece of 220 sandpaper to address the damage on the inner edge and bring the bowl back to round.    There was a deep gouge on the left side of the heel of the bowl that I dealt with next. I filled it in with clear superglue and once it had cured sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper.   I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth between each sanding pad.   I paused the polishing for a moment and stained the rim top with a Maple and an Oak stain pen to blend the rim top colour into the bowl and shank colour.   I went back to polishing the bowl with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads.  The last three pads helped to blend in the restained areas of the repairs. I rubbed 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.      I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I painted the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the dents in the surface of the vulcanite. I was able to lift most of them out. What remained were some light marks in the surface.  I scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove the remaining oxidation. It took a bit of elbow grease but I was able to remove it all. I sanded out the remaining tooth marks on both sides with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.      I touched up the Diamond P stamp on the top of the taper stem with Liquid Paper. I worked it into the stamping with a tooth pick. I scraped off the excess with the tooth pick and the finished stamp looked much better.      I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    This nice looking Parker Super Bruyere 793 Billiard from Bob Kerr’s estate cleaned up really well and looks very good. The mixed stain brown finish on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Parker Super Bruyere feels great in the hand and I think it will feel great as it heats up with a good tobacco. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.