Tag Archives: Paresh Deshpande article

A Simple Restoration of a BBB “Natural Grain” # 11


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

My pipe cleaning factory back home is churning out pipes galore and these cleaned pipes once they reach me are being liked by people who see them and sales are also improving, though restricted only to local customer, yes, you read it right, without an ‘s’, as only one colleague has been motivated to take up enjoying a pipe!! I am sure more will follow. Those readers who have been following my work on rebornpipes.com are well aware that here in India, pipe smoking culture died its natural death in 1970’s when old pipe shops and tobacconists were pushed out of business by cigarette manufacturers and people got used to the convenience of a ready-to-smoke cigarette. And to add to our woes, there is a ban on importing tobacco!! Well, wish me luck that I am able to revive this culture back here again…

Well, the fourth pipe selected by my colleague from the heap of cleaned up pipes that Abha had sent me, is a well-made British pipe. It’s a classic straight Billiards with tapered stem BBB pipe in a smooth finish. It has nice Bird’s eye grain on either sides of the stummel with tightly packed cross grains to the front, back and on the shank. The pipe is stamped on the left of the shank as “BBB” in a diamond box, in block letters over “NATURAL GRAIN” split on either side of the diamond box. On the right of the shank, close to the bowl end it is stamped with the numeral “11” probably a shape code. The tapered vulcanite stem with an aluminum stinger has the trademark stamp of BBB in a diamond box. However, the stem logo is not a brass logo, pointing to the later/ newer era pipe. The COM stamp is conspicuous by its absence. The stampings are all crisp and prominent. Having a few BBB pipes in my personal collection that once belonged to my grandfather and having a few friends like Steve and Victor Naddeo who collect BBB pipes, the information readily available was sufficient to date this pipe. From discussions with these stalwarts and comparing it with BBBs from my inheritance, it is evident that this pipe is definitely from a newer era, probably 1980s, the dead giveaway being the lack of brass diamond roundel for the stem logo, presence of an aluminum stinger and the grading of Natural Grain!!

With this information, I move ahead with my initial visual inspection.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in a very decent state, to say the least. It was only smoked a couple of times and a thin even layer of cake build up is observed in the chamber. The rim top is covered in places with specs of overflow of lava. Otherwise, the rim top surface and both inner and outer rim edges are in pristine condition.The smooth stummel surface has beautiful Bird’s eye grain patterns on either sides of the stummel with beautiful densely packed cross grains on the front, back and the shank. The bottom surface of the stummel is flattened, making it a sitter. The stummel surface has a natural finish of the briar and the grains should pop out after a nice polish. The mortise with shank internals is relatively clean and the chamber is odorless. The draught hole is at the bottom center and should be a great smoker!! Reclaiming this piece of briar should be an easy chore. The tapered vulcanite stem is clean with very little signs of oxidation seen in the bite zone on either surfaces of the stem. The tenon end along with the detachable aluminum stinger is also clean. The slot does not show any signs of accumulated dried gunk. Air flow through the stem air way is full and free. A couple of pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol should freshen up the stem internals.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE……
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. A clean pipe also helps in clearly identifying the work that would be required to restore a pipe. The pictures shows the condition of the pipe when it reached me after being cleaned. The chamber is odorless and the walls are solid without any signs of damage. The smooth rim top surface and the inner and outer rim edge are in perfect condition. The mortise and shank internals are also nice and clean now. The seating of the stem tenon into the mortise is snug and sits flush with the shank end. I had noticed a darkened spot on the right side of the shank near and below the stamped numeral 11 (marked in yellow arrow). On close scrutiny, I feel that this spot is not a fill but a minor flaw in the briar since a gentle probing with a sharp dental tool revealed a solid surface. I have decided to let it be. The rest of the stummel surface is sans any fills or flaws. A nice polish and the beautiful grains will pop out and will be on display in all their glory. As the stamping suggests, this is a pipe with natural finish to the briar and I have no intentions to change this!!! I think as the pipe is smoked, over a period of time, the briar will take on some nice dark coloration and patina. I am really looking forward to see the stummel after polish. The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been removed, thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha. The slot and stem internals are all clean and fresh. The aluminum stinger too is nice and clean. A bit of sanding to remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. THE PROCESS
I start this restoration by sanding the entire stummel surface, including the rim top, with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helps in addressing all the minor dents, if any, from the surface while providing a smooth surface for the next stage which is polishing cycle using complete set of micromesh pads. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. I showed the stummel to the new owner and discussed if he wanted me to stain the stummel or preferred it the way it appeared at this stage. I took this opportunity to explain to him that the stummel would darken as he smoked taking on a beautiful dark patina with time and usage. He liked the pipe without stain and thankfully, that’s how it shall remain. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Now that the stummel was nearly complete, I turned my attention to the stem. Since there was no damage to the stem and Abha had done a wonderful job of removing the oxidation from the stem surface, I straight up proceed with sanding the stem surface using 400, 600, 800, 1000 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool and also sharpened the button edges while sanding. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 2400 girt micromesh pads. Continuing with my experimentations that I had spelled out in my previous posts, I mount a cotton buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and polish the stem with Red Rouge polish as I had read that this polish has grit between 2400 to 3200 grit pads of the micromesh pads. Further, I mount a fresh buffing wheel on the rotary tool and polish the stem with White Diamond polish as it has grit equivalent to 3800- 4000 of micromesh pads. I finish the stem polish by wet sanding with 6000 to 12000 grit pads of the micromesh. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem looks nice and shinning black. I am really happy with this process of stem polishing as the results are excellent while saving me huge amounts of time and effort. To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and is ready to be handed over to the new piper. Hope he enjoys his leisure time with this beautiful and gorgeous looking pipe, smoking his favorite tobacco!! P.S. This is the last of the four pipes that was selected by this gentleman to carry forward the trust posed in the pipe by the previous piper and I am sure that this pipe will provide the new piper many years of happy smokes and will remind him of our association. This was also the most difficult of all the four pipes to let go!! Such is the beauty of this pipe.

Thanks to all readers of Reborn pipes who have spared a moment of their invaluable time in reading through this write up and as is always, your suggestions and advice are always welcome as this would not only help me but also help the new pursuers of this art.

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A Fresh Lease on Life for a Barling T.V.F # 911, Made in Denmark


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

My pipe cleaning factory back home is churning out pipes galore and these cleaned pipes once they reach me are being liked by people who see them and sales are also improving, though restricted only to local customer, yes, you read it right, without an ‘s’, as only one colleague has been motivated to take up enjoying a pipe!! I am sure more will follow. Those readers who have been following my work on rebornpipes.com are well aware that here in India, pipe smoking culture died its natural death in 1970’s when old pipe shops and tobacconists were pushed out of business by cigarette manufacturers and people got used to the convenience of a ready-to-smoke cigarette. And to add to our woes, there is a ban on importing tobacco!! Well, wish me luck that I am able to revive this culture back here again…

The next pipe that I decided to work on, well not exactly by choice but out of economic considerations, is a lovely Brandy bowl shaped Barling’s Make pipe in a smooth finish. Through all the dark hues of Oxblood (not sure its Oxblood or Cordovan, as I have used neither in person) and darkened lacquer coat, beautiful mixed grains can be seen all around the stummel. The pipe is stamped on the left of the shank as Barlingin cursive hand over “MAKE” over “INTERNATIONAL” in block letters. On the right of the shank, close to the shank end it is stamped as “T.V.F.” followed by the shape code (???) “# 911” over “MADE IN DENMARK”. The stampings are all crisp and prominent.I had previously worked on a couple of Barling pipes from my inherited pipe collection; here are the links to both the write up,  https://rebornpipes.com/2019/03/26/a-simple-restoration-of-an-early-transition-era-barling-2639/, https://rebornpipes.com/2018/12/10/decking-out-my-grandfathers-battered-pre-transition-barling-1354/   and had researched this brand then. To refresh my memory, I revisited the write ups and also pipedia.org. Here is an interesting excerpt from pipedia.org……

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barling

In the late 1970’s production of Barling pipes was shifted to Denmark where Eric Nording manufactured Barling pipes for Imperial. There may have been other factories, but as of this writing, none has been identified. Nording stated that he made approximately 100.000 pipes for Imperial.

Despite these attempts to diversify the line, Barling lost its market. These pipes just weren’t equivalent to the family era pipes. Finally, Imperial decided to close down the Barling operations entirely by 1980.

Thus from the above snippets of information, it is safely concluded that the pipe currently on my work table is from the period between late 1970’s to 1980 and most likely carved by master craftsman Eric Nording!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in a very sorry state, to say the least. It was heavily smoked and a thick layer of cake build up is observed in the chamber. The thin rim top is covered in the thick overflow of lava and is severely damaged due to the repeated hammering it must have received at the hands of the previous owner to remove the dottle. This will need to be worked on.The smooth stummel surface has beautiful grain patterns with a mix of Bird’s eye, cross grains and nice swirls. The stummel surface has a dark lacquer coat that has dulled a bit and appears lifeless due to accumulation of dust and dirt and peeling of the lacquer coating in patches. The mortise is clogged with accumulation of oils and tars making the draw laborious. The straight, broad vulcanite saddle stem is deeply oxidized with bite marks and tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. The insides of the slot and tenon have signs of accumulated gunk. The crossed Barling logo on the saddle top of the stem is crisp and deep.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…

The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

The chamber is odorless and the walls are solid without any signs of damage. The smooth and thin rim top surface is where all the action is on this pipe with an equally damaged inner and outer rim edge. The front and back of the outer rim edges and top surface has signs of charring. This should be addressed to some extent when I top the rim surface. The mortise and shank internals are nice and clean. Even though most of the lacquer coat was removed when the stummel was cleaned up by Abha, I could still see remnants of the peeling lacquer coat over some parts of the stummel. I shall have to remove this coat and thereafter decide on staining the stummel or otherwise. The stummel surface is sans any fills; however, the left side surface has some damage in the form of dents and dings, probably caused due rough handling of the pipe by the previous owner. The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been greatly reduced thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha, clearly defining the deeper bite marks and the damage to the button edges on both surfaces of the stem. These tooth marks would be required to be filled with a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. A bit of sanding to match the fill and remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem.THE PROCESS
The first issue I addressed was that of the stem repairs as this would take the maximum of my time to clean, repair and spruce up the stem. I flamed the damaged button edge and the tooth indentations with the flame of a lighter. This helps the vulcanite to rise to the surface as it has an inherent property to regain its original shape when heated. I sand the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to even out the raised stem surface and address the minor tooth chatter. I mixed superglue and activated charcoal powder and diligently applied it over the deeper tooth indentations in the bite zone on lower stem surface and over the button edge on the upper stem surface and set it aside to cure. With the stem fill set aside to cure, I decided to address the issues on the stummel surface. I start by steaming out the dents and dings from the left side of the stummel. I heated my fabricated knife over a candle flame till hot. I spread a wet Turkish hand towel over the dents and dings on the stummel and placed the heated knife over the hand towel. The resulting sizzle produces steam which in turn expands the briar and evens out the dents. The results are exactly as I wanted them to be.The next stummel issue to be addressed was that of the rim top surface damage. I topped the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently till I was satisfied that the charred surface was addressed to a great extent and the rim top surface is nice, smooth and even. The inner edge is still uneven, though much better than before topping, and shall be addressed subsequently.Close observation of the rim top surface revealed remnants of charred inner rim edge on the right side and below it on the same side, a briar flaw (all encircled in red). This flaw, when polished would stand out like a sore thumb and hence I decided to address this by topping the rim top further. A few careful rotations of the rim top on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and the issue of briar flaw was completely addressed and the charred inner rim edge was further reduced. The rim top looks significantly better at this stage. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I created a slight bevel on the inner edge of the rim top surface. This helped to mask and address the minor charred marks that had remained on the inner rim edge. Continuing with my work on the stummel, I sand the entire stummel surface with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helped to address all the minor dents from the surface and removed what little lacquer coating that had remained, while providing a smooth surface for the next stage of micromesh polishing cycle. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep dark shine and beautiful grains all around. I showed the stummel to the new owner and discussed if he wanted me to stain the stummel or preferred it the way it appeared at this stage. I took this opportunity to explain him that the stummel would darken further as I finished with the polishing regime. He liked the pipe without stain and that’s how it shall remain. As a result of all the topping and subsequent polishing, the rim top surface had a lighter hue as compared to the rest of the stummel surface. I matched the rim top surface with the rest of the stummel by staining the surface with a dark brown stain pen. I set it aside for the stain to cure and once I was satisfied, I wiped it with a microfiber cloth. The rim top is now perfectly matched with the rest of the stummel dark coloration. I am very pleased with the blend.Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Now that the stummel was nearly complete, I turned my attention to the stem repairs. The stem fills had cured completely by this time. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper, I sand down the fills to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stem surface. I followed it up by sanding it with 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to achieve a perfect blend of the fills with the rest of the stem surface, remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 2400 girt micromesh pads. Continuing with my experimentation that I had spelled out in my previous posts, I mount a cotton buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and polish the stem with Red Rouge polish as I had read that this polish has grit between 2400 to 3200 grit pads of the micromesh pads. Further, I mount a fresh buffing wheel on the rotary tool and polish the stem with White Diamond polish as it has grit equivalent to 3800- 4000 of micromesh pads. I finish the stem polish by wet sanding with 6000 to 12000 grit pads of the micromesh. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. I am really happy with this process of stem polishing as the results are excellent while saving me huge amounts of time and effort. The stem looks nice and shinning black, but there was something that I felt I had missed out. I realized that the stem logo is yet to be refreshed and highlighted. With a white fine tipped correction pen, I filled the crossed Barlings stamping and once it had dried a bit, with a toothpick, I scrapped off excess of the correction ink. The stamping is now completely refreshed and sits proudly on the top of the saddle.To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and is ready to be handed over to the new piper. Hope he enjoys his leisure time with this beautiful and gorgeous looking pipe, smoking his favorite tobacco!! P.S. This is the third pipe that was selected by this gentleman to carry forward the trust posed in the pipe by the previous piper and I am sure that this pipe will provide the new piper many years of happy smokes and will remind him of our association. There is one more pipe which he has selected that I need to work on before I can get back to my choice of pipes to work on!!

I can never thank Abha, my wife, enough who not only supports my hobby of pipe restoration, but actively helps in this work by doing all the dirty work of initial cleaning and providing me a clean platform to work further. It is her work that helps potential buyers to select a pipe for themselves.

Thanks to all readers of Reborn pipes who have spared a moment of their invaluable time in reading through this write up and as is always, your suggestions and advice on my experimentation is always welcome as this would also help the new pursuers of this art.

 

Restoring the Third Custombilt from My Inheritance


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This is the third Custombilt pipe that I had brought to my place of work from my grandfather’s collection which I had inherited. I had professed my appreciation and liking for old Custom-Bilt pipes for their large size, shape, hand feel and the rustic looks. However, this one seems to be a Custombilt from a later era which is a surprise for me, more of it when I further research about it.

The Custombilt pipe that is now on my work table is a large Bull moose shaped pipe with a ¾ bent stem, having well defined large vertical rustications with very fine, thin horizontal linear rustications in between. This is a beautifully carved pipe with a classic shape and a thick shank. The stummel is distinctly divided in to two halves by two evenly spaced rings. The cap half is smooth while the lower stummel surface proudly displays the worm rustications. The large smooth rim top surface boasts of some beautiful bird’s eye grains. The worm rustications on this beauty are unlike the large scraggy ones seen on the Custom-Bilt Pot shaped and large Billiard pipes that I had restored in the last few days. The ones on this pipe are more evenly carved and evenly spaced. There is strip of smooth surface at the bottom extending from the shank to the foot of the stummel. The worm rustications extend from the side of this smooth surface on either sides and to the front of the stummel. It is indeed a beautiful looking pipe with a fantastic feel in the hand, beauty of which cannot be justified in words. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “Custombilt” without a hyphen between the two words, in cursive hand over “IMPORTED BRIAR”, a commonly observed stamp on these pipes. There is no other stamping visible either on the stummel or the stem.To date having worked on 5 or 6 Custombilt pipes and researched each of them, I have a fair idea about dating these pipes based on the stampings seen on them. However, as is always said and emphasized in our pipe community, the mysteries about pipes never end!! The stampings on this pipe has proved this and how! In the cursive Custombilt stamping seen on this pipe, the lower part of C meets, no, originates from the top of the U while the upper portion extends to the left side of the cross of t, the horizontal cross itself barely reaching the next letter o!!

On pipedia.org, there is a brief description of the various stampings as researched by William E. Unger, Jr., PhD, which deals with the study of Custom-Bilt pipes, here is the link to the review of this book (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Custom-Bilt#Other_Comments).

There are three stamps which are shown and serve as a teaser for dating these Custombilt pipes (for more researched examples of stampings, you might consider purchase of a copy of your own!!). Well as of now, I don’t have one and if any one of the reader does, it is requested that the necessary information may please be shared with readers of rebornpipes.com, so that we all could learn and grow together.

With this unresolved mystery as regards dating this pipe (I think it is from later era of Custombilt pipes, even later than the Wally Frank era, but not sure!), I move ahead with my initial inspection.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber has a thick and even layer of cake. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be determined only after the cake has been completely reamed out down to the bare briar. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber. This should be a fantastic smoker. The slightly outward sloping smooth rim top surface has several minor dents and dings and has darkened surface on the right side. The inner edge of the rim has one bigger and many minor chips all around. This issue should be easily addressed by sanding down with a sand paper. The cap rings are in decent condition with just a couple of small chips towards the left and back of the stummel. As these chips are visible only on very close inspection and affects neither the aesthetics nor the smoking character of this pipe, I might as well let them be.The smooth bottomed stummel feels solid to the touch and makes for a nice fit in the hands of the smoker. The vertical worm rustication with its horizontal thin line rustications within makes for a visual treat. The stummel surface is relatively clean and without any dents, dings or chipped surfaces. The shank end has smooth surfaces on the sides and on top and bottom of the shank. These should polish up nicely and lend a distinct character to the pipe. The upper smooth half of the stummel including the rim top surface has some beautiful straight and bird’s eye grain respectively. This should turn out to be a beautiful and attractive looking pipe, I am sure. The mortise and the shank are clogged with accumulated dried oils, tars and grime and dirt. The draught hole too is constricted due to this accumulation (marked in yellow arrow). The draw is slightly hard and laborious and should ease out once the shank internals are cleaned out.The ¼ bent vulcanite stem is nice and thick at the tenon end and tapers slightly towards the button end. The stem is heavily oxidized in the bite zone due to use of a rubber bit, with heavy tooth chatter on either surfaces of the stem. The button edges including button surfaces are also damaged due to bite marks. The slot and tenon are also covered in dried oils and tars. The stem internals are clogged and would need a thorough cleaning up. THE PROCESS
I started the restoration of this beautiful pipe by first reaming the chamber with size 3 followed by size 4 head of the PipNet pipe reamer. The amount of cake dislodged from the chamber points to the fact that this would have been a favorite of my Grandfather!! With my fabricated knife, I removed the cake from areas where the reamer head could not reach. I followed this reaming with sanding the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to completely remove any residual cake. This also helps to smooth the walls of the chamber. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab and alcohol to get rid of all the carbon dust and expose the bare briar of the chamber. The walls are solid and in good condition. However, the area around the draught hole is slightly charred and a few minor heat lines are visible around it. The heat lines seen around the draught hole are superficial and I address them by further sanding with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. I also removed the charred briar around the draught hole by scrapping it with my fabricated knife and the drilling attachment of a Kleen Ream tool. The chamber is now clean and all the issues are addressed to my satisfaction.I followed up the cleaning of the chamber with that of the shank internals. With a dental spatula, I first scrapped out all the accumulated dried crud and cleaned the mortise. The dried gunk so hard and tightly packed that I also had to use a round needle file to dislodge the gunk from within the air way. Using hard and regular pipe cleaners and alcohol, I cleaned the shank internals and the airway. A number of pipe cleaners later, the shank internals are clean and the draw is nice, smooth and even.The internal cleaning was followed by external cleaning of the stummel surface using Murphy’s Oil soap and a hard bristled tooth brush. I also used a brass wired brush to diligently clean out all the dirt and grime from within the worm rustications. With a shank brush and dish washing soap, I thoroughly cleaned the shank internals and the mortise. I dried the bowl with paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. With the stummel set aside to dry out naturally, it was time to move ahead with the stem restoration. I cleaned the stem internals with pipe cleaners and alcohol. With the sharp flat end of a dental tool, I scrubbed the dried out oils and tars from the slot area and also from the tenon end of the stem that seats in the mortise. I cleaned the stem surface with a cotton swab and alcohol.I flamed the bite zone with the flame of a lighter. The heating of the vulcanite raised the tooth chatter to the surface and I followed it with a light sanding with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to even out the surface around the bite zone. Using a flat head needle file, I reshaped and sharpened the button and button edges. This was followed by sanding the entire stem surface with 400 followed by 600, 800 and 1000 grit sand papers to remove the oxidation. I finished the sanding with a 0000 grade steel wool. Using progressively higher grit sand papers helps in a smooth surface while minimizing the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive sanding papers. I wiped the stem with a small amount of Extra Virgin Olive oil and set it aside to be absorbed by the stem surface. With the stem being set aside to hydrate, I move back to the stummel and sand the smooth rim top surface with a piece of folded 220 grit sand paper. This step took care of the dents and dings on the surface. I also worked the inner edge of the rim with the same piece of sand paper and evened out the numerous dings from the inner rim edge. I wiped the rim top with a moistened cotton swab to remove the resulting sanding dust. Most of the dents and dings on the rim top and edge were addressed thus. Subsequent micromesh polishing will further reduce what little dents and dings that remained. A few minor and insignificant dings that may remain, I intend to let them be as they are a part of this dude’s journey to date.The next evening, I decided to move ahead with polishing and completing the stem. I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 2400 girt micromesh pads. Continuing with my experimentations that I had spelled out in my previous posts, I mount a cotton buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and polish the stem with Red Rouge polish. Further, I mount a fresh buffing wheel on the rotary tool and polish the stem with White Diamond polish. I finish the stem polish by wet sanding with 6000 to 12000 grit pads of the micromesh. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside again. I am really happy with this process of stem polishing as the results are excellent while saving me huge amounts of time and effort. With the stem polishing now completed, I moved ahead with micromesh polishing of the smooth surfaces on the stummel (the rim top surface, the smooth portions at the shank end and the bottom of the stummel). I polished the stummel by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 micromesh pads. The briar stummel is looking really good at this stage of restoration!! Next, I wiped the stummel surface with a moist cloth to remove all the sanding dust left behind by the micromesh pads, paying diligent attention to the areas between the worm rustications. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful worm rustication patterns on full display. I have been using this balm ever since I embarked on this journey and it is this part of restoration that I always look forward to. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the smooth surfaces of the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. The final step in completing this project is to give the entire pipe a nice wax polish. I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. This step not only removes any excess wax from the surface but also finger prints that inadvertently are left behind. I complete the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buff using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me… Cheers!!

 

Restoring a Second Custom-Bilt, a Large Billiard from My Inheritance


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I have decided that I would now first complete all the Custom-Bilt pipes from my inheritance that I had got along with me to my place of work place and the remaining ones at my home town will be done later. I had professed my appreciation and liking for Custom-Bilt pipes for their large size, shape, hand feel and the rustic looks. The next pipe from the collection which I decided to work on was a huge Custom-Bilt briar pipe. The large size of the bowl, thick shank and large saddle stem, lends this pipe a weight which I particularly enjoy holding in my hand.

The pipe has deep and large vertical worm rustications along the entire length of the shank and height of the bowl. Within these large vertical rustications are very thin, closely stacked horizontal lines which give this pipe its unique appearance and are its trademark!! I absolutely love these pipes. These large rustications continue right up to the outer rim of the bowl. The thick rim top is covered with the same thin, closely stacked lines as seen between the vertical rustications. The worm rustications on the shank are much thin and precise as compared to the ones on the bowl and end about ¾ inch before the shank end giving a semblance of a shank end ring. These thin worm rustications can be seen at the foot of the stummel with smooth portions in between them. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “Custom-Bilt” with a hyphen between the two words, in cursive hand. The “IMPORTED BRIAR”, a commonly observed stamp on these pipes, is seen in the smooth surface towards the front on the foot of the stummel followed by the number “3038” in the next portion towards the shank end.Having worked on a few Custom Bilt pipes in the past and researched this brand and based on the stampings seen on this pipe, I can say with an amount of certitude, that this pipe is from the period 1938-46. Here is the proof in determining the vintage based on stampings as researched by William E. Unger, Jr., PhD, which deals with the study of Custom-Bilt pipes.With this confirmation as regards to the vintage of this pipe, I move ahead with the initial visual inspection of this pipe.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe, as I received in the box, was carefully wrapped in a soft cotton cloth, stummel and stem separate!!! The condition of the stem and the stummel made me wonder if this pipe had been received after restoration/ repair work; it appears in such great condition. I thoroughly checked the entire pipe for any signs of repairs or damages. Fortunately there were none!! Only the stem appears brand new. Could it be a new replacement stem from an authorized store? No way to determine this as there are neither any receipts or documents nor any person in my family who could have confirmed this aspect.

The chamber has a thin layer of cake and does not appear to have been smoked much, may be a few bowls at the max. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be determined only after the cake has been completely reamed out down to the bare briar. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber. This should be a fantastic smoker. The thin worm rusticated rim top surface is covered in dust and grime all these years of storage. The outer and inner edges of the rim are in good condition with no damage. The craggy large vertical worm rustication with its horizontal thin line rustications within makes for a visual treat. The large vertical rustications are filled with dust and grime to such an extent that the horizontal lines lying within are barely visible. Same goes for the rim top. Though covered in dust and grime of all these years of storage, these should clean up nicely. I have seen an aluminum shank/ mortise extension fixed inside of the mortise on another very similarly sized and shaped Custom-Bilt from my Grandfather’s collection which I had restored about a year back!! This aluminum shank/ mortise extension (or should it be called a tenon?), was also seen on the previous Custom-Bilt Pot that I had restored just a couple of days back. However, this pipe has no such extension, just regular mortise and stem tenon construction. The mortise shows slight accumulation of oils and crud which has resulted in a slight gap between the stem and the shank end when seated. A thorough cleaning of the shank should address this issue. The wide straight saddle vulcanite stem is in pristine condition and seats with a slight gap in to the mortise with all the right noises. The tenon and the slot are also very clean. A polish with Blue diamond and coat of carnauba wax should suffice to deepen the shine on the stem. THE PROCESS
I started the restoration of this beautiful pipe by first reaming the chamber with my fabricated knife. I followed this reaming with sanding the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to completely remove any residual cake. This also helps to smooth the walls of the chamber. How I miss the help of Abha, my wife and Pavni, my youngest daughter who specializes in sanding the chamber walls to a smooth and even surface. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab and alcohol to get rid of all the carbon dust and expose the bare briar of the chamber. As expected, the chamber is sans of any heat fissures/ lines. I followed up the cleaning of the chamber with that of the shank internals. With a bent dental spatula, I scrapped out the dried gunk from the mortise. Using hard and regular pipe cleaners and alcohol, I cleaned the mortise and the shank internals. A number of attempts and pipe cleaners later, the shank internals are clean and the draw is nice, smooth and even. I tried the seating of the stem in to the mortise and was pleased to note that the fit is now perfect and without any gaps. The internal cleaning was followed by external cleaning of the stummel surface using Murphy’s Oil soap and a hard bristled tooth brush. I also used a brass wired brush to diligently clean out all the dirt and grime from within the worm rustications. With a shank brush and dish washing soap, I thoroughly cleaned the shank internals and the mortise. I dried the bowl with paper napkins and soft cotton cloth and set it aside to dry out completely. With the stummel set aside to dry out naturally, it was time to move ahead with the stem restoration. I cleaned the stem internals with pipe cleaners and alcohol. With the bent flat end of a dental tool, I scrubbed the dried out oils and tars from the tenon of the stem and cleaned it with a cotton swab and alcohol. I wiped the stem with a small amount of Extra Virgin Olive oil and set it aside to be absorbed by the stem surface.While the stem was set aside to hydrate, I worked the stummel, micromesh polishing of the smooth raised surfaces on the stummel. I polished the stummel by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 micromesh pads. With a moist cotton swab, I carefully wiped off all the sanding dust from within the worm rustications. I am pretty happy with the results!! Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful worm rustication patterns on full display. I have been using this balm ever since I embarked on this journey and it is this part of restoration that I always look forward to. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. On to the homestretch!! I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. I only wish it could share with me its life story of the past 70 plus years… Cheers!! P.S. These old Custom-Bilts may not be as elegant, delicate and quaint looking as most of the British pipes like say, Charatan’s, Barling’s, Comoy’s or an old Ben Wade, but there is a certain rustic charm about these pipes that appeals to me the most and of course, not to mention the size!! I am not sure if there are any serious Custom-Bilt collectors in our pipe world, but if any reader of rebornpipes.com is, I would definitely like to connect and share our common love for these magnificent pipes.

As usual, your comments and advice is requested as these will help me in my learning and improvements in future. I express my sincere gratitude to all readers who have dedicated their time to read through the write up and for being part of this journey.

 

Back to My Inherited Collection – Restoring a Custom-Bilt Pot


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

It’s been a while that I had worked on my Grandfather’s pipe collection and that is what I decided to work on as my next project. I had professed my appreciation and liking for Custom-Bilt pipes for their large size, shape, hand feel and the rustic looks.

The Custom-Bilt pipe that is now on my work table is a large Pot shaped pipe, having the trademark scraggy large vertical rustications and very fine, thin horizontal linear rustications in between. This is a beautifully carved pipe with a unique construction in that the chamber appears to be placed inside the outer casing of the briar wood. However, the chamber is carved from the same piece of briar with a smooth rim top surface that is slightly raised above the surrounding rim surface with thin rustications. The short shank is smooth and extends in to the large smooth foot of the stummel. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “Custom-Bilt” with a hyphen between the two words, in cursive hand. There are two prominent red dots on either side of the shank with a square symbol on the right side of the shank towards the stummel joint. The IMPORTED BRIAR, a commonly observed stamp on these pipes, is conspicuous by its absence on this one!!Having worked on a few Custom Bilt pipes in the past and researched this brand and based on the stampings seen on this pipe, I can say with an amount of certitude, that this pipe is from the period 1938- 46. Here is the proof in determining the vintage based on stampings as researched by William E. Unger, Jr., PhD, which deals with the study of Custom-Bilt pipes.With this confirmation as regards to the vintage of this pipe, I move ahead with the initial visual inspection of this pipe.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber has an even decent layer of cake. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be determined only after the cake has been completely reamed out down to the bare briar. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber. This should be a fantastic smoker. The smooth and slightly raised rim top surface has severely charred inner rim edge on the left in 8 o’clock direction and a minor charring on the right side in the 3 o’clock direction, both marked in red circle causing the bowl to appear out of round. The remaining rusticated rim top surface is covered in dust and grime of overflowing lava. The flat bottomed stummel feels solid to the touch and makes for a nice fit in the hands of the smoker. The vertical worm rustication with its horizontal thin line rustications within makes for a visual treat. Though covered in dust and grime of all these years of uncared for storage, these should clean up nicely. The smooth flat bottom of the stummel has a number of perfectly rounded small dings and will need to be addressed. The short and smooth surfaced shank has an aluminum shank/ mortise extension fixed inside of the mortise. I have seen a similar extension on another Custom-Bilt from my Grandfather’s collection which I had restored about a year back!!! This aluminum shank/ mortise extension (or should it be called a tenon?), has two airways, a larger one above a smaller one, both with the same draught hole at the other end. The purpose of these two airways in the same tenon was shrouded in mystery then and to this day, still remains so. Any inputs on this mystery from the esteemed readers will help all other readers in understanding the functional aspects of this dual airway. Both these airways are clogged with oils and tars and dirt from all these years of smoking and storage, making the draw a bit laborious. This draw should even out once the shank extension and shank has been cleaned out.The slightly bent vulcanite stem sits atop the aluminum shank/ mortise extension and is peppered with tooth chatter on either surface of the stem. The edges of the button are slightly damaged due to tooth marks. These issues are not severe and should be easily addressed by sanding. The tenon end of the stem surface is chipped in at number of places with the edges slightly raised (indicated with red arrows). I shall address this issue first by sanding and if required, will fill it with a mix of superglue and activated charcoal. THE PROCESS
I started the restoration of this beautiful pipe by first reaming the chamber with size 3 followed by size 4 head of the PipNet pipe reamer. The amount of cake dislodged from the chamber points to the fact that this would have been a favorite of my Grandfather!! With my fabricated knife, I removed the cake from areas where the reamer head could not reach. I followed this reaming with sanding the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to completely remove any residual cake. This also helps to smooth the walls of the chamber. How I miss the help of Abha, my wife and Pavni, my youngest daughter who specializes in sanding the chamber walls to a smooth and even surface. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab and alcohol to get rid of all the carbon dust and expose the bare briar of the chamber. It was a relief to note that the chamber is sans of any heat fissures/ lines. The next issue that I addressed was that of the charred inner rim edge. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper, the charred surfaces were sanded down till I reached solid briar wood. A bevel to the inner edge would look out of place on this pipe and so it was decided to keep the edges straight. I sand the entire inner rim edge and the chamber with a folded 180 grit sand paper till it matched with the damaged rim edge. The inner rim edge looked good and also the chamber is now nicely rounded. I further sand the entire smooth rim top surface to remove the blackened surface from the charred area and also to get rid of any minor dents/ dings and grime from the surface. I followed up the cleaning of the chamber with that of the shank internals. Using hard and regular pipe cleaners and alcohol, I cleaned the aluminum mortise extension and the shank internals. It was a bit of an exercise to clean the lower of the two air ways as it sloped upwards and posed difficulties in maneuvering the pipe cleaner towards the draught hole. A number of attempts and pipe cleaners later, the shank internals are clean and the draw is nice, smooth and even.The internal cleaning was followed by external cleaning of the stummel surface using Murphy’s Oil soap and a hard bristled tooth brush. I also used a brass wired brush to diligently clean out all the dirt and grime from within the worm rustications. With a shank brush and dish washing soap, I thoroughly cleaned the shank internals and the mortise. I dried the bowl with paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. To expel all the moisture from the shank and the aluminum extension, I blew air through the draught hole and to my chagrin; there were droplets of water that came out from the joint between the shank end and extension (marked with red arrows). This is definitely a sign of leak from the joint. I wiped the area dry and with my sharp dental tool picked the area clean. With a toothpick, I applied clear superglue all around the joint and held it vertical for the glue to seep in to the joint. I was careful to apply a small quantity as I did not want the glue to enter and harden inside of the mortise. I wiped off the extra glue from the shank end as I would disturb the seating of the stem over the aluminum extension. I set the stummel aside for the glue to cure. With the stummel set aside for the glue to cure, it was time to move ahead with the stem restoration. I cleaned the stem internals with pipe cleaners, q-tips and alcohol. With the bent flat end of a dental tool, I scrubbed the dried out oils and tars from the area of the tenon end of the stem that seats on top of the aluminum shank/ mortise extension.I flamed the bite zone with the flame of a lighter. The heating of the vulcanite raises the tooth chatter to the surface and followed it with a light sanding with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to even out the surface around the bite zone. Using a flat head needle file, I reshaped and sharpened the button and button edges. This was followed by sanding the entire stem surface with 400 followed by 600, 800 and 1000 grit sand papers to remove the oxidation. I also evened out the raised indentations from the tenon end caused due to chipping. I finished the sanding with a 0000 grade steel wool. Using progressively higher grit sand papers helps in a smooth surface while minimizing the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive sanding papers. I wiped the stem with a small amount of Extra Virgin Olive oil and set it aside to be absorbed by the stem surface. While the stem was set aside to hydrate, I worked the stummel, sanding away excess dried glue from the joint between shank end and the aluminum extension. I polished the extension with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. The next issue that I addressed was the numerous rounded dings from the perfectly flattened foot of the stummel. I decided to steam out these dings since these dings were slightly deeper. I heated my fabricated knife over the flame of a candle till nice and hot. I covered the dings with a thick wet Turkish hand towel and placed the hot knife over it. The sizzling steam that is generated expands the briar and pulled out the dings. I am pretty happy with the results!! I set the stummel to dry out and went ahead with polishing and completing the stem. I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 2400 girt micromesh pads. Continuing with my experimentation that I had spelled out in my previous posts, I mount a cotton buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and polish the stem with Red Rouge polish. Further, I mount a fresh buffing wheel on the rotary tool and polish the stem with White Diamond polish. I finish the stem polish by wet sanding with 6000 to 12000 grit pads of the micromesh. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside again. I am really happy with this process of stem polishing as the results are excellent while saving me huge amounts of time and effort. With the stem polishing now completed, I moved ahead with micromesh polishing of the smooth surfaces on the stummel (part of the rim top surface, the short shank and the foot of the stummel). I polished the stummel by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 micromesh pads.Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful worm rustication patterns on full display. I have been using this balm ever since I embarked on this journey and it is this part of restoration that I always look forward to. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. There are a few spots where I had missed out on the application of the balm, as would have been observed by some discerning readers in pictures below, but let me assure you that I had reapplied the balm using a q-tip but missed out on taking pictures. On to the homestretch!! I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches.With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. I only wish it could share with me its life story of the past 70 plus years, if only the pipe could tell some of my grand Old man’s stories and recount incidents it had witnessed while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it!! … Cheers!!

A Simple Restoration of a “Jobey Filtersan # 690”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I am in a rush to complete as many pipes as I can before Abha, my wife, sends me another batch of 30-40 pipes to restore!! Her pace of completing the initial cleaning of the pipes is very difficult for me to match by completing the remaining restorations aspects of these pipes.

Well, the next pipe that I decided to work on is a straight pot (actually I feel it is cross between a Billiard and a Pot what with the bowl height of a Pot and the width of a Billiard!!),  Jobey Filtersan pipe in a beautiful black stained sandblast finish. The beautiful sandblast patterns can be seen all around the stummel and rim top surface, save for smooth surfaces at the bottom of the shank which bears the stamping on this pipe and the second that forms a band at the shank end. The pipe is stamped “Jobey” in cursive hand over “FILTERSAN” in block letters. Adjacent to these stampings, is another set of stamps in line with the above and reads “FRANCE” over “690”. The stampings are all crisp and prominent. I had previously worked on an interestingly shaped Jobey Original Bent Dublin Sitter; here is the link to write up (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/09/14/jobey-original-t1/), and had researched this brand then. To refresh my memory, I revisited the write up and also included some information from pipedia.org. Here are some interesting excerpts from pipedia.org…

Jobey

English – American – Danish – French… Sadly, solid information about Jobey is scant…

Probably established in England around 1920(?) the brand hiked into the USA later. In the course of time owner, distributor and manufacturer changed repeatedly. As far as is known the following companies have been involved with the brand:

Throughout decades Jobey pipes were mainly sold in the USA, Canada and England but remained almost unknown in continental Europe. The bulk of Jobeys was predominantly made according to classical patterns and mainly in the lower to middle price range. The predominant judgment of the pipe smokers reads: “A well made pipe for the price.” So there is hardly anything very special or exciting about Jobey pipes although a flyer from ca. 1970 assures:

“The briar root Jobey insists upon for its peer of pipes is left untouched to grow, harden and sweeten for 100 years. […] Jobey uses only the heart of this century old briar and only one out of 500 bowls turned measures up to the rigid Jobey specifications.” 99.80% of cull… that makes the layman marveling!

Yet then there are partially really exciting Freehands mainly in the seventies, that Jobey – Weber owned back then – bought from Danish pipe genius Karl Erik (Ottendahl). These pipes were offered as Jobey Dansk – ’70’s pure! (BTW waning sales caused Ottendahl to discontinue exports to the United States in 1987).

In the very same year – obviously only as a ghost brand – Jobey was transferred to Saint-Claude, France to be manufactured by Butz-Choquin.

There must have been an abandonment of the fabrication, because in 2002 the message was spread, the current proprietor of the brand F&K Cigar Co. from St. Louis, MO had recently re-introduced the Jobey very successfully again…

From the above information and correlating the stampings on this pipe, it is safe to conclude that this pipe is definitely post 1987 and made by Butz-Choquin when the brand was transferred to France. With rough idea of the origins of this pipe, I move ahead to the next step in the process of restoration that I follow.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in an excellent condition when compared to most of the pipes that I have worked on till date. It was maybe smoked a couple of times at best. The chamber is in pristine condition with a very thin layer of cake which is soft and crumbling. For Abha, my wife, this should be a breeze to clean. The sandblast rim top has a little dust and tar accumulation. The rim outer and inner edges are in excellent condition and without any damage.The sandblasted stummel surface has beautiful patterns with the cross grains and vertical grains forming a grid pattern. The stummel surface has dulled a bit and appears lifeless due to accumulation of dust and dirt within these sandblast patterns. A small quantity of accumulation of oils and grime is seen in the mortise and a thorough cleaning with pipe cleaners and alcohol should address this issue. The vulcanite stem is lightly oxidized and without any bite marks or tooth chatter on either surface. The tenon is made of plastic and houses a 6mm filter (came with a new filter!!). The insides of the slot and tenon have signs of accumulated gunk. The brass roundel with embossed logo of the pipe brand is intact, albeit oxidized. This should polish up nicely. INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…

The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem. She had removed the stinger from the tenon and cleaned it with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE……
Now that the cleaned up pipe is on my work table, I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

The chamber is odorless and the walls are solid without any signs of damage. The sandblast rim top surface is in decent condition with the inner and outer rim edge in excellent condition. I could still see remnants of the accumulated dirt and grime in the sandblasts of the rim top surface (hope Abha does not read this post!!). I shall remove this crud with a soft brass wired brush. The mortise and shank internals are nice and clean. The stummel is nice and clean. Once the stummel was cleaned up by Abha, I could see a small crack on the left side of the shank close to the smooth briar band at the shank end (marked in red circle). I probed it with my dental tool and found it to be solid without any give. I think this could be a flaw in the briar. However, to ally my worst fears, I shared the pictures of this flaw with Steve for his opinion and to my great relief, he concurred with my assessment. I would just fill it up with a drop of superglue and use a black sharpie marker to mask this flaw. There is, in fact, not much work to be done here save for some spit and polishing to make it nice and shiny again. The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been greatly reduced, thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha. A bit of sanding to remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem.THE PROCESS
The first issue I addressed was that of the flaw that I had observed during my inspection of the stummel. I spot filled the flaw with a drop of superglue and set it aside to enter in to whatever gaps that may exist internally and harden.While the shank fill was curing, I sand the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and followed it up by sanding it with 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation from the stem surface and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth to remove all the oxidation from the surface.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 2400 girt micromesh pads. Continuing with my experimentation that I had spelled out in my previous post on ROPP REPORTER # L-83 pipe, I mount a cotton buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and polish the stem with Red Rouge polish as I had read that this polish has grit in between 2400 to 3200 grit pads of the micromesh pads. Further, I mount a fresh buffing wheel on the rotary tool and polish the stem with White Diamond polish as it has grit equivalent to 3800- 4000 of micromesh pads. I finish the stem polish by wet sanding with 6000 to 12000 grit pads of the micromesh. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. I am really happy with this process of stem polishing as the results are excellent while saving me huge amounts of time and effort. The shank fill had cured in the intervening period and I sand the excess superglue with a worn out piece of 220 grit sand paper. I further mask it with a permanent black marker. The fill should be impossible once the stummel has been polished and buffed.Next, with a soft bristled brass wired brush, I gently scrub the sandblasted surface of the rim top and dislodged the dried up gunk. The rim top surface is now nice and clean and the stummel is prepped for the next stage in the restoration.Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful black sandblast patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. With the stem well hydrated at this point with absorption of olive oil, I wiped it dry with a paper napkin and removed any excess oil from the stem surface. I applied a small quantity of “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish and rubbed it deep in to the vulcanite stem. This polish, purportedly, is supposed to remove the finer sanding marks left behind by the abrasive grit papers.Now, on to the homestretch!! I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel, shank extension and the stem to polish out the minor scratches.With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and should be an ideal combination with a black suit or a black tuxedo!! P.S. This pipe has already found a new piper to carry forward the trust posed in him by the previous piper and I am sure that this pipe will provide the new piper many years of happy smokes and will remind him of our association.

I cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough who not only supports my hobby of pipe restoration, but actively helps in this work by doing all the dirty work of initial cleaning and providing me a clean platform to work further.

Thank you all readers of rebornpipes who have spared a moment of their invaluable time in reading through this write up and as is always, your suggestions and advice on my experimentation is always welcome as this would also help the new pursuers of this art.

 

An Interesting Pipe to Work On- “Ropp Reporter”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Even though the work on my last project which I had mentioned in all my previous couple of blogs as one that I was keen to work on, has been more or less completed, the write up is pending for one simple reason, there was an issue which was pointed out by Steve when I shared pictures of the finished pipe with him. To address the issue, I need to travel back to my home town where services of a very special artisan are needed to be sought. Well, unraveling of this mysterious pipe will happen only in October 2019 and in the meanwhile I move ahead with my other restorations!!

The next pipe on my work table is a French pipe, makers of which trace back their history to 1870s!! Most of the learned readers would have guessed it right, it’s indeed a ROPP!

The pipe is a large bowl straight billiards with shiny golden colored shank end band with a bright burnt orange cherry wood (?) shank extension. The stem end of this extension too has the golden colored thin metal ring. The vulcanite stem has a corn cob shaped aluminum stinger. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank as “ROPP” in an oval over “REPORTER”, all in block capital letters. The right side of the shank bears the stamp “L 83” probably denotes the size (L- large) with shape code # 83. The vulcanite saddle stem has the logo “ROPP” in white letters, embedded deep in to the saddle and covered in a transparent high quality plastic cover.I searched pipedia.org to know about the brand as it is a first for me. The site has very scant information about the brand, but what is available makes it an interesting read (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ropp)

Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) had acquired a patent for a cherrywood pipe (wild cherry, lat.: Prunus avium) in 1869. In 1870 he established a workshop to manufacture such pipes in Büssingen (Bussang, Vosges mountains). Around 1893 the business moved into the former mill of Sicard (part of the community of Baume-les-Dames – Département Doubs, Upper Burgundy – from 1895 on).

The pipes were a big success in the export as well. Shortly before 1914 Ropp designated A. Frankau & Co. (BBB) in to be the exclusive distributor in the UK and it’s colonies.

Probably in 1917 a workshop in Saint-Claude in the Rue du Plan du Moulin 8 was acquired to start the fabrication of briar pipes. In 1923 a small building in the environment of Saint-Claude, serving as a workshop for polishing, was added.

Even though cherrywood pipes were the mainstay of Ropp until the company finally closed down in September 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Jeantet, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994.

There are some nice old flyers advertising these pipes which are always interesting to go through, but unfortunately my understanding of French is as good as that of the readers who can read, write and understand Devnagiri script (origins of which is Sanskrit), my mother tongue!! Admiring the pictures (but not understanding the text…LoL!!), the only conclusion I could draw was that this pipe is certainly post 1994 as it is more contemporary looking. The complete appearance of the pipe is that of desiring/ seeking attention! It really has that kind of appearance and bling.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
This pipe was received by Abha, my wife, and she liked the funky and bright looks of it. The first thing she noticed was the fit of both the stem tenon in to the shank extension and that of the shank extension in to the mortise was extremely loose. The stummel shows some nice mixed straight, cross and bird’s eye grains all across. The stummel had dirt and grime accumulated over the surface and appeared dull and lifeless. A couple of dents/ dings are visible on the foot of the stummel. I shall address this by steaming out these dents followed by sanding and micromesh polishing. The chamber had a thin even layer of cake in the lower half of the chamber and appeared to have been well looked after. The rim top surface is without any serious damage, save for some minor (and could have been ignored!!!) dents. The inner rim edge has a nice delicate bevel which has been made uneven with reaming with a knife. However, the outer edge has a few very minor dents and dings. The broad vulcanite saddle stem is oxidized and had a couple of minor tooth indentations and chatter on both the surfaces in the bite zone. The corn cob shaped aluminum stinger is covered in dried oils and tars. The button edges showed very slight deformation from tooth marks. The tenon was covered in a hard plastic cap to tighten the fit of the stem in to the shank extension. The burnt orange cherry wood (?) extension is in very good condition except that the ring has discolored in patches but not corroded. The fit of all these pieces of pipes in to each other was extremely loose and would be the biggest challenge to address on this pipe. INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem. She had removed the stinger from the tenon and cleaned it with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
Now that the cleaned pipe is on my work table, I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

The chamber show very minor and superficial heat lines all along the walls, however, the stummel appears to be solid to the feel. The rim top surface is in decent condition with the inner rim edge bevel in slightly worn out condition. The outer rim edge does show very minor dents and dings. I could either top the rim top to address this issue or let them be since these dents and dings are very minor and hardly noticeable. The stummel was clean and free of any accumulated grime. One fill that Abha had noticed, was picked clean with a thin sharp edged knife and would need to be filled. After I have polished the stummel with micromesh pads, would I be able to decide if I would stain it or let it be in its natural finish.The stem has only one deeper bite mark which would need to be repaired with a fill of activated charcoal and superglue mix. Whatever, little oxidation remains, will need to be removed by sanding with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper and follow it up with polishing with micromesh pads. The aluminum stinger is clean.The one major issue I need to sort out at the outset is to make the 3 pieces of this pipe stick together to be called a pipe!! The stummel, shank extension and the stem tenon are so loose that it does not fit in to each other and cleaning of all these parts has not helped the matters either.THE PROCESS
The first issue on the agenda that I decided to tackle was to get the pipe together by making the three parts of this pipe to affix firmly in their designated places. For the stem tenon fit, I had an option to either increase the tenon size by heating and thereafter enlarging it with a larger diameter drill bit and coating it with a clear nail polish. I decided against this process since firstly, this would make the seating of the stinger in to the tenon too loose and secondly, the gap between the tenon and shank extension seat was so large that it would not be possible to expand the tenon to this extent. Similarly, there was no way that I could ensure a snug fit of the shank extension in to the mortise other than by making a packing insert. This brought me to the only option of creating a packing insert using a cork and this is exactly what I proceed to do. Theoretically, I would measure the length that needed to be cut off from the cork to fit the stem tenon and the tenon of the shank extension and sand it down to achieve a snug fit, simple. Well, theoretically it sounds easy, practically not so much.I decided that I would address the shank extension first. I pried out a couple of corks from wine bottle caps (Oh my, I have plenty of them!!!) and measured the length that needed to be cut off from the cork to fit the tenon of the shank extension. With my hand held drilling tool and a smaller drill bit, I drilled a through hole. I progressively increased the diameter using progressively bigger drill bits till I had achieved a snug fit of the cork piece on the tenon. Once I was satisfied with the fit, I fixed the cork packing with superglue on to the tenon. I replaced the drill bit on my tool and mounted a sanding drum. Next, I sand the drilled cork with the sanding drum till I had achieved a rough fit of the shank extension tenon in to the mortise. I fine tuned the fit by hand sanding it with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I decided on fixing this packing on to the tenon so that it will be easier to clean the mortise and shank extension in future after each use. It required a great deal of patience and diligent work to achieve a perfectly snug fit of the shank extension tenon in to the mortise.

However, the moment I started to fit the drilled out cork for the stem tenon, I noticed that the cork had started to split along the fault lines. I tried to stick them together with CA superglue, but to no avail. The more I tried to push, the more the cork disintegrated!! Finally I had to shelve this idea of a cork packing for the stem tenon. The following pictures will give a clearer picture of the steps, results and the failures of this process. While working on the shank extension, the metal band came loose and revealed all the corrosion on the insides of the band and patches of old glue on the shank extension itself. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I removed all the corrosion from the metal band and evened out the shank extension surface which seated the metal band. I stuck this band flushed with the shank extension stem end surface with CA superglue and set it aside.To address the fit of the stem tenon in to the shank extension, I decided to go the tried and tested path of increasing the girth of the tenon by using a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. I applied the same in layers, till I had achieved a snug fit. I had to set the stem aside after each layer for the mix to cure.In between all the layering and curing process on the stem tenon, I simultaneously worked on the stummel surface. The one fill which was seen and readied for a fresh fill was patched up with a mix of briar dust and superglue and set aside to cure.While, the stummel fill was set aside to cure, I started work on the stem tenon. Using a flat heat needle file, I lightly sand the rebuild tenon surface. As I started to sand with a piece of 220 grit sand paper, I frequently checked the seating of the tenon in to the shank extension. It was at this point in time that I observed that the seating was skewed. There was a prominent gap (indicated by a red arrow) towards the right side between the edges of the stem and the shank extension. On careful observation, I noticed that the fit of the tenon itself in the stem is not aligned straight!! It was this misaligned tenon that caused the stem to seat incorrectly in to the shank extension. To straighten the stem tenon, I inserted a pipe cleaner through the stem and heated the tenon with my heat gun till pliable. Pulling the tenon end of the pipe cleaner, I achieved a straight alignment of the tenon with the stem and cooled the tenon by holding it under cold running tap water. I checked the seating of the stem in to the shank extension and it was perfect. Turning my attention back to the stummel, I matched the fill with the rest of the stummel surface by sanding the fill with a flat head needle file followed by sanding the fill with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. For a perfectly smooth rim top surface, I top it on a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This also addressed the minor dings on the outer rim edge.  I sharpened the inner bevel with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my fingers. It was at this stage that a colleague of mine saw the pipe and wanted it for himself. He liked the grains and the overall aesthetics of this pipe. I explained to him the amount of work remaining that was required to restore this pipe, including the steaming out of the dents and dings at the foot of the stummel. He did not like the idea of steaming out the dents from the foot and vehemently opposed this process. No amount of persuasion on my part that this process will not cause any damage but on the contrary repair it, could convince him. Since he is the new owner of this pipe, with great reluctance, I gave in to his request.

The stem tenon had completely cooled off by now and was perfectly straight. I flamed both the stem surfaces with a lighter to raise the deep bite mark and followed it up with sanding the surface with a 220 grit sand paper followed by 0000 grade steel wool. This helps to remove what little oxidation remained on the stem surface and at the same time addresses minor tooth chatter in the bite zone. I fill the deeper bite area and the button edges with a mix of superglue and activated charcoal powder and set it aside to cure. While the stem fill was curing, I moved ahead with micromesh polishing of the stummel surface. Now, here is a slight departure from the usual polishing process that I have followed on all previous restorations. I had read that White diamond polish falls between 3400 to 4000 grit micromesh pads and so to experiment, I polished the stummel with white diamond after wet sanding with 1500 to 3400 micromesh pads. I finished the polishing cycle by wet sanding with remaining grit micromesh pads. In all honesty, I found the finish not much different from the routine polishing of wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 micromesh pads. I shall continue with this experiment on a few more pipes and then decide to continue with this process or revert back to only micromesh pads. I followed up the polishing by applying “Before and After Restoration” balm. This balm protects and enriches the briar surface and is highly recommended for use in any restoration of briar pipe. I rubbed it deep in to the stummel surface and also in to the shank extension and set it aside to be absorbed for 20 minutes. I also applied petroleum jelly to the cork on the tenon of the shank extension to hydrate and moisten it. I am pleased by the appearance of the stummel (less the dents and dings on the foot of the stummel) and the deep burnt orange hue of the shank extension. At this point in restoration the only other issue, other than the dents and dings on the foot of the stummel, that I need to address is that the burnt orange color of the shank extension merges with the coloration of the stummel. I would love to impart a bit of a contrast between the stummel, shank extension and the shining black of the vulcanite. Well, I shall see to it when I get there!! The following pictures will bring better clarity to what I am commenting on.With the stummel nice and clean and attractive, I worked the stem of the pipe. The fill on the stem had cured nicely and I sand it down with a flat head needle file. I sharpened the lip edges using a needle file and sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem and the tenon, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. The pictures of the final results are shown below. I applied a small quantity of “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish and rubbed it deep in to the vulcanite stem. This polish, purportedly, is supposed to remove the fine sanding marks left behind by the abrasive grit papers.This is how the pipe appears at this stage. The shank extension completely merges with the stummel and looks out of sync with the overall appearance of the pipe. The shank extension was most likely meant to provide a contrast between the stummel and in the process, add some bling to it. At this stage my colleague again interfered and wanted the natural finish. He is one person who loves natural finish of the briar with the grains being seen. However, I was not ready to compromise this time around. We struck an understanding between us that if the finished pipe is not liked by him, I would get it back to the natural finish. Now with this stalemate sorted out, I contemplated my next step.

I felt that the burnt orange of the shank extension would provide a nice contrast between the shining black vulcanite and a light black stained stummel. I shared this thought with Steve, my mentor, and he concurred with my view. He suggested that I should give the stummel a light black stain wash and thereafter bring it up to a nice high gloss finish. I mixed a small quantity of black stain powder with isopropyl alcohol to a very watery consistency and applied it to the stummel with a cotton swab. I let this stain wash set for a minute and vigorously wiped it down with a clean cotton swab. I repeated this process a couple of times till I was satisfied with coloration of the stummel. Here are the pictures and the end result of this stain wash. I liked it immensely. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel, shank extension and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. I buffed the gold colored band/ ring at the shank end and at the stem end of the shank extension with a jeweler’s cloth and bring it to a nice shine. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. Boy, am I happy with the look of this pipe. The burnt orange provides a striking contrast with the darker hues of the stummel and shining black of the highly polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is shown below. Cheers!! P.S. The completed pipe actually looks more stunning in person than in pictures. Even my colleague loved the finished pipe and he is all set to enjoy this beauty with his favorite tobacco, Autumn Evening, from 4noggins!! Thank you all for walking with me through this restoration which was a combination of some new processes and experiments.