Tag Archives: Millard system pipes

Breathing New Life into a Millard Imported Briar System Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was chosen because it reminded me of a pipe that I enjoy smoking and working on – a Keyser Hygienic. Jeff picked it up in November of 2017 from an online auction. It has been sitting here in a box for a long time waiting for me to get around to picking it up and working on it. This weekend was the time I chose to do so. It has some nice grain around the bowl and the inwardly beveled rim top. The shank end is polished aluminum and has a tube in the center of what acts as a condenser compartment. The stem is inserted in the shank end and also has a tube in the center. The swirling smoke in the chamber leaves the moisture on the sides of the aluminum shank extension. There was a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflow on the rim top. The stem was oxidized and calcified on the button end. There were tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the bowl and rim top and both the top and underside of the stem. You can see the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. Both the inner and outer edges of the bowl look very good. The stem photos show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides as well as the calcification on both sides. He took a photo of the side of the bowl and the heel to show the grain on the bowl. It is a beautiful piece of wood.He took a photo of the tubes in the shank and the stem and the condensation chamber in the aluminum shank extension. The tubes and the chamber is thickly covered with tars and oils.He also took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.As I studied it, I also remembered that I have worked on several Millard pipes over the past years. I turned to one of the write ups on rebornpipes on a pair of Millard pipes. Here is the link https://rebornpipes.com/2015/12/11/a-pair-of-millard-perfect-pipes-a-sandblast-apple-and-dublin/. I am including a picture of a flyer that I showed in the blog and I am quoting the section that gives the background on the brand. I quote:

When I came across the Millard – the Perfect Pipe coupon in the two boxes of Kentucky Club that I found I was fascinated with the look of the pipe. It reminded me of the Keyser Hygienic pipes that I had restored over the years. The stem that fit into the metal mortise shank insert and the tubes on the inside of the stem and the shank were similar. While the Keyser tubing in the shank looked identical the one in the stem was different. Keyser was directed downward while the Millard was two straight tubes that met in the mortise. They did not touch but the metal chamber became a condensing chamber, or as they call it an Action Trap, for the smoke and collected the moisture before it continued through the tube in the stem. I looked up the brand online and found the following advertisement postcard that shows the way the system works. I found that the stems were interchangeable between the shapes that the pipe came in. The straight stems could be easily transferred from pipe to pipe. In fact the pipe originally came with an extra or replacement stem. The pipe came in a sandblast and a smooth finish in six shapes – apple, Dublin, billiard, pear, pot and bent. It came in two sizes: medium or large. In the advertisement below you can see that the pipe cost $3. I also found that Mastercraft supplied the pipes through the coupon sales. Knowing a bit of history about the company I know that they did not make pipe so they were sourced from the original manufacturer.

Before I worked on the pipe I took the box of Kentucky Club that I had on the shelf and opened it and took out the coupon. It actually was a coupon for The Millard pipe. It read as follows:

Looking for the Ideal Pipe? The Millard is often regarded as the answer. Its complete action trap keeps the pipe dry in any position and prevents mouth flow back. Se it in our new Premium Catalog. It will delight and intrigue you. We feel sure.

I took photos of the box and coupon along with the pipe to give a sense of the size of the pipe and the look of the coupon.  Reminded of the background of the brand it was time now to work on the pipe. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up of the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer to take the cake back to bare briar. He cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it with hot water. He scrubbed out the shank, aluminum trap mortise and the tubes in the stem and the shank with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. He sent it to me in a box of other pipes. When I brought it to the table this is what I saw. I took close up photos of the rim top and stem to show the overall condition of the bowl and stem after Jeff’s work on it. The rim top looked very good and the bowl was clean. The stem was also clean (lightly oxidized) and had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe.I took photos of the tube in the stem and in the shank chamber. It is a unique design.The metal shank extension was not completely aligned with the shank. It was straight but the diameter of the shank was larger in spots than the diameter of the metal shank extension. I took some photos to try and capture that misfit.I used a small file and 220 grit sandpaper to properly fit the shank and extension. It was not much work to remove the excess material. I polished the sanded shank and extension with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down between each pad with wet cloth. The shank and extension began to take on a real shine.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 10 minutes then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain really came alive. It looks better than when I began. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I smoothed out the tooth marks and scratches in the vulcanite with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I put the pipe back together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored Millard Imported Briar System Bent Billiard is a real beauty and I think the polished aluminum shank extension (condensation chamber) and the black vulcanite stem work well together. The grain on the bowl came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The Millard Bent Billard feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar, the polished aluminum and the vulcanite stem is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.55 ounces/44 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the American (US) Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.

A Pair of Millard Perfect Pipes – A Sandblast Apple and Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

When I came across the Millard – the Perfect Pipe coupon in the two boxes of Kentucky Club that I found I was fascinated with the look of the pipe. It reminded me of the Keyser Hygienic pipes that I had restored over the years. The stem that fit into the metal mortise shank insert and the tubes on the inside of the stem and the shank were similar. While the Keyser tubing in the shank looked identical the one in the stem was different. Keyser was directed downward while the Millard was two straight tubes that met in the mortise. They did not touch but the metal chamber became a condensing chamber, or as they call it an Action Trap, for the smoke and collected the moisture before it continued through the tube in the stem. I looked up the brand online and found the following advertisement postcard that shows the way the system works. I found that the stems were interchangeable between the shapes that the pipe came in. The straight stems could be easily transferred from pipe to pipe. In fact the pipe originally came with an extra or replacement stem. The pipe came in a sandblast and a smooth finish in six shapes – apple, Dublin, billiard, pear, pot and bent. It came in two sizes: medium or large. In the advertisement below you can see that the pipe cost $3. I also found that Mastercraft supplied the pipes through the coupon sales. Knowing a bit of history about the company I know that they did not make pips so they were sourced from the original manufacturer.Millard1I mentioned in the Kentucky Club Blog that I would love to get my hands on one of these. I received a comment from one of the readers, Pam who offered to send me one. She had picked one up in a lot of pipes she was working on restoring. I could have it. I thanked her and she sent me the following photos of the pipe. It is a little (or what Kentucky Club called Medium in the advertisement above). It was a sandblast apple. It was in decent shape and would clean up quite nicely. The finish was spotty and the stain was lightened and missing in some spots. The rim had some buildup of tars. The cake was quite thick. The inner rim edge was out of round. The stem was oxidized and had some calcification in front of the button.Millard2

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Millard4 While I awaited the arrival of Pam’s gift I took a look on eBay and found that the pipe that I had pictured in the Kentucky Club Blog was for sale. The seller wanted $12 for the pipe. It was a Dublin shaped pipe with a smooth finish. It looked to be a Medium sized Millard as well. On a whim I put a bid on it and won. The seller said that it was restored but my past experience with these kinds of sales made me pretty certain that all that it meant was that it was polished. Now I went from no Millard pipes to two in a matter of days. The photos that follow were from the seller. The pipe looked sound. The finish was pretty decent though there were ripples and dents on the bowl sides. The beveled rim was not clean and there were still spots where the tars had been left and polished. The inside of the Action Trap was dirty with tars and oils. The stem had some tooth chatter and dents. Once the pipe arrived I would have a better idea of what I had to work with on this one.Millard5

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Millard10 Pam’s gift pipe arrived first. It was a beautiful smaller sized apple (even though the advertising from Millard called it a Medium). The length was 6 inches. My original assessment from the photos proved to be pretty accurate. The finish was worn but the sandblast was quite nice – shallow but still tactile. The light spots on the top of the shank were spots where the finish was gone but the blast was still present. The cake was thicker than I thought it would be, particularly in the bottom of the bowl. The bowl was more out of round than I had guessed and had a burn spot on the back middle inner edge that contributed to the misshapen inner edge. The tar build up was deep and there appeared to be a burn spot on the top of the rim at the front right side. The inside of the shank, the Action Trap, was dirty and had tar, oil and tobacco shellac. The airway was tight and constricted when I blew air through it. The stem was oxidized and under the calcification there were some deep tooth marks and cuts that would need to be addressed. The inside of the stem has a chamber with the tube in the middle and that area was dirty with tars and oils. The airway was constricted even more than the one in the shank. I was pretty sure that something was clogging it and causing the constriction. The slot had been reduced by half with the buildup of grime.

The second pipe arrived at my home a short time after Pam’s. It too proved my original conjecture about the concept that some people have of what “restored” means. This pipe had been given a light polish on the briar and the stem. The polish had merely wiped over the dents, dings and scratches on the briar. There were ripples along the top of the shank. The rim still had spots of tarry buildup that had been polished and there were scratches from what looked like a quick scrub with a coarse scrubber. The bowl had a slight ridge around the inside just below the rim from an incomplete reaming. The inside of the Action Trap was dirty and the oils and tars had hardened. The airway was constricted and dirty and the opening in the bowl bottom was plugged with grit. The aluminum mortise insert was oxidized and dull. The stem was oxidized and there were ripples in the surface from where someone had either buffed hard or tried to remove tooth chatter or tooth marks. The inside of the stem chamber was dirty with tars and oils and the inside of the stem looked as if it had never seen a pipe cleaner. So much for the term “restored”.

I decided to work on both pipes at the same time so that I could compare the internals and the briar on them. It would be a fun project to do them both together and watch the truly restored pipes emerge from the tired pipes that had arrived at my work table. The next four photos show the pair together.Millard11

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Millard14 I took some close up photos of the two bowls to show what I would be working on. The first photo shows the bowl of the apple shaped pipe. You can see the cake and the damage to the top of the rim. The bowl is out of round. The second photo shows the rim of the Dublin and you can see the scratches and the incomplete cleaning of the rim tars.Millard15 The next photo shows the stems removed from the shanks. The stems are interchangeable so as I had expected from the advertisement shown above one stem size and shape could be used interchangeably on any of the straight pipes.Millard16 I took a photo of the internals of the mortise insert to show the tube inset in the middle of the aluminum chamber. This is the Action Trap that the adverts spoke of. The “restored” Dublin was just as dirty inside as the untouched apple sent by Pam. While both look the same the tube in the Dublin extends further into the Trap than the one in the apple. The second photo shows the end view of the two stems. You can see the tube inset in the middle of the stem. Again the tube in the Dublin stem is shorter than the one in the apple. I am not sure the reason for this as when both are interchangeably inserted in the bowl the draw and fit is identical so it may well be just inconsistency in the manufacture.Millard17 I cleaned up the inside of the Dublin bowl with a PipNet reamer to remove the ridge along the top portion of the bowl just below the beveled rim. I scrubbed the rim with saliva and cotton pads to work on the tars left behind. I found that they were hard so I used a 1500 grit micromesh pad to sand and work on the deposits until they were gone and the rim was smooth. It also worked to remove the scratching on the rim that had been left behind by the previous “restoration”.Millard18 I reamed the bowl on the apple with the PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. The second photo shows the large amount of carbon that I removed from the bowl.Millard19

Millard20 With the bowl reamed you can see the damage to the inner edge that left the bowl out of round. There was a burned area on the rim at that point that did not go too deeply into the bowl but it was present. I scrubbed the rim with a brass bristle tire brush to remove the overflow of cake on the rim.Millard21

Millard22 I scrubbed both bowls with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the spotty finish on the apple and the grime on both bowls. I also removed the polish that had been applied to the Dublin so I could work on the scratches and dings. After scrubbing them I rinsed them under warm water in the sink to remove the soap and the grime that had been loosened.Millard23

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Millard26 I scrubbed both bowls with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the remaining finish and clean up the briar. The finish on the Dublin was pretty clean. The one on the apple came off with the scrubbing and the remaining finish was removed.Millard27

Millard28 With the bowls and finish cleaned up it was time to address the internals. I used pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to clean out the debris in the shank and the mortise of both pipes. I used a folded pipe cleaner and a cotton swab that I thinned the cotton on to get inside of the mortise to clear out the build up there.Millard29 To address the damaged rim on the apple I decided to top the bowl. I set up the topping board and a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and worked on the rim to flatten it and remove the damaged areas. In doing this I found another burned spot on the front right top of the rim. I worked on the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of sandpaper to correct the out of round condition. When I was finished the rim looked far better. Now I needed to work on rusticating the rim to match the sandblast on the finish of the pipe.Millard30

Millard31 To rusticate the rim I used a dental burr in my Dremel and carefully worked it over the surface of the bowl rim. It had to be deep enough to show, tight enough to look like a sandblast and somehow blend into the bowl finish. I carefully worked the Dremel over the surface being careful to keep it on the flat rim and not damage the edges of the inside or outside of the bowl. The next two photos show both the burr and the work done on the rim. Though it is a little hard to see the rustication came out really well. It will become clear in later photos.Millard32 I stained the bowl and rim with a dark brown aniline stain. I applied the stain and flamed it. I reapplied it and reflamed it.Millard33

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Millard35 The next photo shows the rustication very clearly. I touched it up with a dark brown stain pen and then waxed the bowl and rim with a microcrystalline Conservators Wax. The bowl was looking far better.Millard36

Millard37 With the basic work done on the bowls and rims I turned my attention to the stems. I cleaned both stems with pipe cleaners, alcohol and cotton swabs until they were clean. I picked out the slots on both stems with a dental pick to make sure they were wide open. The stem on the Dublin had a very tight draw. I ran a straightened paper clip through the stem and a large chunk of tar and cotton from pipe cleaners dropped out of the end. The draw was unconstricted and the airflow was clear in both stems.Millard38 I sanded both stems with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and also clean up the tooth marks and ripples in the surface of the vulcanite. I sanded them with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. I repaired the tooth damage and the cuts in the surface of the stem for the apple with black super glue. After the repair had dried I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and the sanding sponges once again.Millard39 I wet sanded the stems with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed the stems down with Obisidian Oil and then dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads. I gave the stems another coat of oil and dry sanded with 6000-12000 grit pads. I buffed the stems with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave them several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed them with a clean flannel buffing pad and then a microfibre cloth.Millard40

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Millard42 I polished the aluminum ferrule/mortise inserts on the shanks with the last three grits of micromesh sanding pads and then rubbed them down with a jeweler’s cloth. I lightly buffed the stems and bowls with Blue Diamond and then gave the entire smooth pipe several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the two pipes with a clean flannel buff and then with a microfibre cloth to raise the shine. The inside of the Active Trap is stained but it is clean. These are a couple of great looking pipes now. The rusticated rim worked really well with the finish on the bowl and gives the apple a clean look. The clean beveled rim on the Dublin has a rich shine that shows the grain off very well. The finished pipes are shown in the photos below. Thanks for looking.Millard43

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