Tag Archives: polishing

A Crowned Thick Shank Billiard 40 from the Bertram Lot


Blog by Steve Laug

Once again rather than repeat myself about the background, please refer to the previous blog posts on the collection of Bertrams and other brands that Jeff and I purchased. I can’t adequately describe how overwhelmed I am when I look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. I am glad Jeff is helping with the clean up on the lot as that would be more than I could handle by myself in moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes I chose a thick shank Billiard Bertram 40 with a crowned rim top. The grain was a mix of cross grain and birdseye. It was a Billiard with a tapered stem. The bowl had cake in the chamber that was no problem. The rim top had some darkening and lava overflow on the back side. There was a chip in the front, inner edge of the bowl and what appeared to be a burn mark on back inner edge. The outer edge of the bowl appeared to be in good condition but we would know more once the bowl had been reamed and cleaned. The exterior of the briar looked lifeless and was dusty with the grime of years of storage. The stem had some oxidation and tooth chatter near the button on both sides. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he began his cleanup work on it. Jeff took a close-up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The rim top had a coat of lava and the bowl had a thick cake. There is also an obvious nick on the front inner edge of the bowl that will need to be dealt with.Jeff took pictures of the bowl sides and the heel to show the great looking grain around the sides of the bowl. It really is quite stunning and very dirty!Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the left side of the shank. It shows the stamping which read Bertram over Washington, D.C. The stamping on this pipe is a faint on the right side of the impression. The second photo shows the number stamp 40 which shows the quality of the pipe. The number stamp is on the underside at the stem/shank junction.The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the oxidation and the chatter on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the button edge.Once again, if you have read the previous Bertram blogs I have posted about the pipes that I have cleaned up so far you can skip the next bit. But if you have not, then I include the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them do some research on them. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. They graded their pipes by 10s, the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I’ve never heard of or seen a 100 grade. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/).

I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I have learned that the shape and grade Bertram I have in front of me now was made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Thick Shank Crowned Billiard is different from the other Bertram shapes I have worked. With a grade 40 stamp it is a more of lower mid-range pipe, though I am not sure why as the briar is very clean and the grain very interesting.

By now if you have been a reader for long you have Jeff’s cleaning regimen pretty well memorized. If you know it you can skip right to the pictures. If not I will include them once more. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. There was still some darkening to the rim top toward the back of the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava. The damaged area on the front inner edge and a burned area that has damaged the rear inner edge are visible. The stem photos show that the oxidation is gone. The light tooth chatter is hard to see but I should be able to sand it out quite easily. I used a drop of clear super glue to fill in the chip in the inner edge and rim top on the front of the bowl. Once the repair cured, I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repair and to cleanup the burn damage to the rear inner edge of the rim.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. The grain began to stand out. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I touched up the rim top with a Maple Stain pen to blend the repairs to the rim top and edge into the rest of the surrounding briar. It did not take much to get a good match. I will need to buff it in the final steps to get the proper look but I am liking it.I know I have mentioned it before but I really like the balm that Mark Hoover created. It really does wonders on a dry piece of briar. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. The stem was in pretty decent condition. I polished out the light tooth chatter with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I am having fun doing these pipes from the Bertram Collection. Each one presents different challenges but all are well laid out classic shapes. This is no exception. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. This Bertram is a classic Thick Shank Crowned Billiard shape with tapered stem. The finish really highlights some amazing grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful grained Billiard. Like the other Bertrams I have worked on this one fits well in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This one will soon be on the rebornpipes store. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

 

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Bringing a Silver Match Toronto 115 Squat Lumberman Back to Life


Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this Silver Match Toronto from what I have called, the ‘French Lot of 50’.  It was on the French eBay auction block and I was fortunate enough to have the winning bid.  When the Lot arrived here in Bulgaria from France, I unpacked it, took pictures of each pipe and posted them in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection for potential new stewards to find and commission.  I have already restored many treasures in this French Lot of 50 for new stewards.  Robert saw the Silver Match Toronto 115 Squat Lumberman in the ‘Dreamers Only!’ collection and wrote me about commissioning it.  In my interchanges with Robert describing the pipe and what was involved in commissioning it, he wrote this in response:

Dal I’m still interested in commissioning the lumberman pipe and I’m in no rush. My wife and I just had a baby he just turned 1 week old! I found out about your restorations on Facebook on The Gentleman’s Pipe Smoking Society.  Thanks for returning my email and I can’t wait to see the outcome of this little pipe!

I also found out that he and his family reside in central Virginia and when we were writing, it was getting ready to snow where he lived!  Well, that was last November, and it has taken this long for Robert’s Lumberman to work its way up the queue and I’m thankful for Robert’s patience! – As well as all the stewards who commission pipes which benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Here’s a picture of the original Lot of 50 in the ‘wild’ that I saw on eBay – the Lumberman it identified with an arrow.Now with Robert’s commission on my worktable, I take more pictures to show this smart squat Lumberman – I call it ‘Squat’ but the bowl is large and will handle a nice packing of one’s favorite blend. The nomenclature is stamped on the upper and lower sides of the oval stem.  On the upper is stamped ‘SILVER MATCH’ [over] ‘TORONTO’.  The lower shank bears what I’m assuming to be a shape number: ‘115’.  The stem is also stamped with a design which I assume is the flame of a match being depicted – my best guess at this point, but I’m not sure! The information about the Silver Match name is thin.  A quick search on the internet shows that Silver Match has been the name of tobacco accessories manufacturer since the 1800s, but mainly of lighters.  Silver Match lighters seem to be highly collectable with vintage lighters dating back to the 1800s but most listed that I saw have a French origin.  The only information in Pipedia refers to Silver Match in the list of British pipe makers as an inexpensive brand sold by Roy Tallent Ltd., and marked with the stamping SM (LINK).  This is confirmed in my copy of Wilczak & Colwell’s, ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ that Silver Match has English origins and manufactured by Roy Tallent LTD/S’Elite LTD – both of which seem more to be in the accessories market than focusing on the manufacturing of pipes.  Pipephil.eu (LINK) brings these two together in the following panel.  It pictures pipes distributed by the famous lighter brand, Silver Match, but shows the two different stem stampings that may indicate either French or British manufacturing – the flame (French) and the SM (England).  If this is correct, the Silver Match Toronto 115 has a French origin, but I found no other information to corroborate this.  Arriving from France in my ‘French Lot of 50’ is anecdotal evidence perhaps supporting this.I’m calling this Silver Match a ‘Squat’ Lumberman because he meets all the qualifications of his place in the Canadian family with the oval shank, but he’s on the shorter side but I’m impressed with the nice ample bowl. I did look at both French and British made shape charts to see if I could discover a lead on who produced the Silver Match but found no matches with 115 that provided this information.

I can see some nice briar underneath the thick layer of grime over the briar surface, but I see one large fill that will need attention on the lower shank near the shape number.  The cake is thick in the chamber with corresponding lava covering the rim.  The stem has oxidation and the button is chipped and will need to be rebuilt.  With this inventory of the challenges this Silver Match Toronto Lumberman faces, I start the restoration by adding the oxidized stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes in the queue.  I first clean the airway with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%. After several hours I fish the Silver Match stem out of the Deoxidizer and use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to wipe off the raised oxidation. I also run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through the stem to clean the Deoxidizer remaining in the airway.The Before & After Deoxidizer does a good job and it preserves the white in the Silver Match stem stamp logo – I still can’t figure out for sure what it’s depicting!  I follow by applying paraffin oil to the stem to begin the rejuvenation process.  I put the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil. Next, I address the very thick cake in the chamber.  The chamber is almost closed off as the cake angles down the chamber.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, starting with the smallest blade head, I use 2 blades of the 4 available to me.  I follow the reaming by using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to further scrape and clean out the carbon build-up.  Finally, I sand the chamber after wrapping a piece of 240 grade paper around a sharpie pen to give me reach and leverage.  To remove the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%. After the cleaning, I inspect the chamber and it doesn’t have any cracks and fissures from heating damage.  It looks good!Next, I continue the cleaning by using undiluted Murphy’s Soap on the external surface using a cotton pad to scrub.  I also use a Winchester blade to scrape the rim addressing the thick lava you can see in the picture above. I also use a brass wire brush on the rim which doesn’t damage the briar.  After being in India, I learned about some of Jeff Laug’s (Steve’s brother) cleaning techniques and I decide to employ some of them.  After cleaning the stummel with Murphy’s, I take the stummel to the sink and clean the external surface with a bristled toothbrush with regular dish soap – the kind that is anti-oil.  I also use shank brushes to clean the mortise with the dish soap and warm water. After rinsing well, I dry the stummel with a cloth.  It came out well.As I observed earlier, there is a very large fill on the underside of the shank.  As expected, the cleaning of the stummel softens the old fill material and most of it fell out with the cleaning.  Using a sharp dental probe, I continued to excavate the material from the hole to clean it.Addressing the internals, I now use cotton buds, pipe cleaners, shank brushes and a dental spatula to scrape the mortise wall.  Using my tools to clean takes a bit of effort, but after some time, the buds started coming out lighter.  Later I will give the internals a further cleaning using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.Next, I patch the huge crater on the shank.  After I make sure all the old fill material has been removed, I clean the hole with alcohol. In the recent trip to India I discovered that there was some mild controversy around my method for filling holes using a putty created by mixing CA glue and briar dust.  Both Steve and Paresh said that they could not duplicate what I’ve been doing for some time – mixing the two components and creating a putty that remained supple.  What they experienced was the CA glue instantaneously solidifying when it touched the briar dust.  We discussed many different possible factors that would cause this difference in results – elevation, kind of glue, etc.  Another possible difference I suggested was that when I used an index card as a mixing platform, I would first cover the card with a strip of packing tape so that the glue would not be absorbed into the paper – which may, if it did absorb, cause the CA to solidify more rapidly.  Both Steve and Paresh were mixing on an index card surface without the tape.  I don’t know if they’ve had better results yet!  I decide to use a plastic lid as my new mixing platform.  You can see that I also put some scotch tape down so that I can clean easily.  I place briar dust on the tape and add BSI Extra Thick Max-Cure CA glue.I gradually pull briar dust into the puddle of CA glue and mix it with a toothpick.  I don’t overwhelm the glue with a lot of briar dust but gradually mix more in.As you can see, the CA is not solidifying as I add more.When the resulting mixture thickens to that of molasses, I use the toothpick and trowel the putty to the shank and fill the huge hole.  After filled, I put the stummel aside to allow the briar dust putty to cure.With the hour becoming late, I further advance the internal cleaning with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  The patch on the shank has set up sufficiently.  I fashion a ‘mortise wick’ using a cotton ball. I stretch and twist the cotton until it creates a wick that will serve to draw out the tars and oils from the mortise.  I stuff the wick down the mortise with the help of a stiff wire.  After placing the stummel in a egg carton for stability, I fill the bowl with kosher salt which doesn’t leave an aftertaste as does iodized salt.  I then add isopropyl 95% to the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the alcohol absorbs, and I top off with some additional alcohol and then put the stummel aside to soak through the night.   The next morning, I see what I was hoping to see.  The salt has soiled and after I draw out the wick it shows that it has continued the internal cleaning process of drawing out the tars and oils. After thumping and dumping the expended salt in the waste, I wipe the bowl with a paper towel and blow through the mortise to remove the salt crystals.I follow with a pipe cleaner and cotton bud wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean residue left behind after the soak.  I find that the internals are clean and refreshed for the new steward.  I move on!The crater fill on the lower side of the Lumberman shank has cured, and I begin the process of removing the excess briar putty using a flat needle file.  I file the mound down almost to the briar surface and then I switch to sanding with 240 grade paper to bring the patch flush with the briar surface. As is often the case, from the picture above, you can see the air pockets left in the sanded patch material.  To blend this, I touch up the patch with a dye stick after sanding the patch further using 600 grade paper.Turning now to the rim, the front and sides of the rounded rim have been skinned up a good bit which the following two pictures show. I use 240 grade paper on the rim and go with the rounded rim flow and sand out the roughened areas around the rim. I follow the rim sanding using sanding sponges over the entire stummel, including the rim.  I use a coarse sponge, followed by a medium sponge and finish with a fine sanding sponge.  The briar on this Silver Match Toronto is expressive and It’s coming out nicely with the sanding. After the sponge sanding, I identify a pit on the lower left side of the bowl. I decide to apply a clear CA glue patch to fill this pit.  After cleaning this area with alcohol, I blacken in the pit using a fine point Sharpie Pen then apply a drop of regular clear CA glue and set the stummel aside for the glue to cure. Not long after, the CA glue cures and I file the patch with a flat needle file followed by 240 and 600 grade papers. The result of this quick patch looks good.Waiting in the wings is the short stem of the Lumberman which sports a chipped button.  The button will need to be rebuilt using a mixture of activated charcoal powder and CA glue.I form an initial triangular insert from index card stock which fits into the slot of the button fully.  I had covered the inserted part with a layer of scotch tape to serve as a barrier to the patch material – to easily be able to remove the insert after the charcoal powder and CA mixture cures.  I then insert another triangular piece of card stock into the initial insert.  This serves to expand and tighten the insert.I open one capsule of activated charcoal dust on the plastic disc (also put a few strips of tape down for easier cleaning) and add BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue in a small puddle next to the charcoal powder and mix in gradually using the toothpick.  As with the briar dust putty, I draw charcoal powder into the CA glue until it reaches the viscosity of molasses and then trowel the putty to the stem to fill the missing button cavity. I trowel enough to fully over-coat the area.As hoped, after the charcoal patch sets up after a few minutes, with a bit of wiggling, the insert comes out leaving the slot and airway clear of the patch material.After several hours, the patch material has fully cured, and I go to work using a flat needle file.  I first work on clearing the excess patch material on the end of the stem.To more rapidly remove the mound of excess patch over the button I employ a small sanding drum mounted on the Dremel.  This removes the patch material very easily. I follow using the flat needle file to bring about the fine shaping of the button repair. I follow the filing and shaping of the button with 240 grade sanding paper to further smooth and shape.  I notice significant air bubbles being revealed by the sanding – ugh…Following the 240 paper, sanding with 600 grade paper and 0000 grade steel wool – upper and lower stem, brings out the air pockets even more distinctly. To address the significant presence of air pockets in this button repair, I first darken the pockets with a fine point Sharpie Pen then I paint thin CA glue over the button lip.  I put the stem aside for the CA to cure.Putting the stem aside for the time, I turn back to the stummel sanding it with the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Beginning with pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stummel.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Wow!  The grain on this Silver Match Lumberman is nice.  You can tell that when the grain patterns in the briar are random, as in this stummel, it is usually a good indication that it was cut from the upper part of the burl which is called the ‘branch wood’ section where the branches of the briar shrub form.  This article I’ve found helpful in understanding better the nature of briar grain – Published in Pipes & Tobaccos, Fall 1999, GRAIN: The first of an infrequent series of articles concerning THE BRIAR PIPE By R. D. Field (See: LINK).  The grain that emerges through the micromesh process is very nice – the Silver Match Toronto is shaping up well. The thing that bothers me like a burr under a saddle is the huge crater fill on the underside of the shank. Even with a darkened stain to mask the fill, it will still be there.  Yet, the light briar surrounding it in the current state is too much contrast for me to swallow!  I come to a decision to stain the stummel a dark brown to provide as much blending as possible and to use the staining process to tease out in greater contrast of the grain. I assemble on the worktable all the needed components for applying stain to the stummel.  I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with the possibility of lightening the dye because it’s an aniline dye – alcohol based.  I can wipe it with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to lighten the finish and blend it.  I first clean the surface using isopropyl 95% and a cotton pad and using a cork inserted into the shank as a handle, I heat the stummel with a hot air gun.  This expands the briar and helps the grain to be more receptive to the dye.  I then use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply dye in swatches and then I flame the wet dye using a lit candle.  This immediately combusts the alcohol in the dye and it sets the dye pigment into the surface.  I methodically apply dye to the surface and flame as I go.  I then set the newly dyed stummel aside to allow the dye to rest – I’ll let it sit through the night.  This helps setting the new stain so that it will not come off on the hands when the stummel is first fired up when it goes into service. With the stummel resting, I return to the patched button addressing the air pockets.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures during this process, but the result is shown.  I use a flat file to remove the some of excess patch material and then gently sand with 240 grade paper and 600 paper.  I finish this phase using 0000 steel wool over the entire stem.  I’m not 100% satisfied with the button rebuild, but the stem is structurally ready to return to service.I move straightaway to using micromesh pads on the stem.  I begin wet sanding with pads 1500, 1800, and 2400 and follow with dry sanding with pads 3200, 3600, and 4000 and finish with pads 6000, 8000 and 12000.  Between each set of three I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to help rejuvenate the vulcanite and the expected high-level gloss of the stem makes an appearance.  Nice.  I put the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil. The newly stained stummel rested through the night and it’s time to unwrap the stummel from the flamed crust residue revealing the grain below.  To do this I mount a new felt cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed to the slowest possible to reduce the possibility of overheating with the friction.  I then apply Tripoli compound to the entire stummel.  I have been asked how long this process takes as I ‘plow off’ the crust and ‘clean’ the residue dye revealing the grain detail.  I timed it this time and the Tripoli compound application took me one hour and 10 minutes – yep, that long. When the help of my wife, she takes a picture of the process of removing the crust and revealing the hue of the newly stained briar underneath.  I’m pleased with the results.  The crater fill on the underside of the shank almost disappears as it blends with Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dyed grain.  After I complete the application of Tripoli with the felt cloth wheel, I switch to a cotton cloth wheel, increase the speed to about 40% full power, and again apply Tripoli to the stummel.  I do this for two reasons.  First, with the cotton cloth wheel I’m able to reach into the crook of the bowl and shank which the felt cloth wheel cannot reach.  Secondly, I find that it sharpens the grain presentation as additional excess dye is taken away.  The result is almost like a luminescent effect. After applying the Tripoli, I give the stummel a gentle wipe with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  This lightens the hue a bit and helps blend the new dye.Next, I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel and maintain speed at 40% and apply Blue Diamond compound, less coarse than Tripoli, to both stummel and stem.Next, I again detach the stem and I want to freshen the Silver Match ‘flame’ stamping.  It took me a while to figure out that was what it was – at least that’s what I think it is!  I apply white acrylic paint over the stamp and then gently wipe it off while still wet using the flat side of a toothpick. I use a cotton bud and the point of the toothpick to clean off the excess. The result is about 80% success.  The upper part of the flame wasn’t deep enough to catch the paint.  The result still looks good.After reuniting the stem and stummel, I mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, maintaining 40% full power, and apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe.  I give the pipe a few coats of wax then I give it a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine and complete the restoration of this nice looking pipe.

This Silver Match Toronto Squat Lumberman came out well.  The grain is striking with a smattering of swirls, waves, bird’s eye, and flame…, it’s an expressive piece of briar!  The darkened stain works great and masked the fill on the underside of the shank almost to perfection.  I’m pleased with the button rebuild, though I want to work more on reducing the air pockets in the process.  Overall, this stout Lumberman is ready for service.  Robert commissioned him and has the first opportunity to purchase this pipe from The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

A simple restoration of a “Castello, Sea Rock Briar” 56 F pipe with Steve and Jeff Laug


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Followers of rebornpipes by now are well aware that Steve, Jeff and Dal Stanton had been on a week long visit here to meet me and my family. Amidst all the program of sightseeing and pipe smoking and getting to know each other, it was but natural that restoration of pipes from my grandfather’s collection was one of the “Bill of Intent” on the agenda. Of all things planned, this agenda was fulfilled to the hilt!!

While I was working on the stem of the Brakner Antique #108, which was posted earlier, Steve rummaged through the pile and immediately came up with what maybe the only Italian (as far as I can recollect) pipe from my grandfather’s collection. It is a deeply rusticated pipe with a diamond shank and a slight flair around the middle of the stummel similar to ring cap in a classic Bulldog shape, towards the rusticated rim top. The shank end is adorned with a diamond shaped vulcanite shank extension that tapers at the end to seat an army mount style vulcanite stem. This beautiful pipe is stamped on the lower left smooth shank surface in a parallelogram as “CASTELLO” over “SEA ROCK BRIAR” over “MADE IN CANTU” over “ITALY”, all in capital. Towards the left side of the stampings, in the same space, is the size code “SC” over an unconfirmed code “56 F”.I referred to pipedia.org for a better and detailed understanding of this brand since I have not worked on very many Italian pipes and never on any CASTELLO!! The read was very interesting and I reproduce excerpts from pipedia.org source. The opening paragraphs itself speaks volumes about the quality and craftsmanship of the pipe that we now are working on!!

Pipa Castello was born in 1947 in the artisan workshop of Carlo Scotti in Via Fossano, in Cantù, with the target to produce pipes which could be placed at the very top of quality and perfection from both the technical and aesthetical side.

“I run a craftsman’s shop, not a factory, my pipes are works of art, fruit of expert hands, heart and fantasy” – Carlo Scotti.

So, the Castello Philosophy was born. It prefers to be, not to appear, always looking for a perfection that, in the human limits, Castello tries to reach. Carlo’s work-passion continues unaltered under the faithful guidance of his daughter Savina and Franco Coppo.

If a pipe man wanted to pull out a pipe that conveyed a sense of status, a brand with undeniable cache, he had to go to a pedigreed English pipe, such as Dunhill and Sasieni; a pipe from Italy simply wouldn’t have come to mind. Then, in 1946, a man from Cantu, Italy began carving a pipe that would change all of that. That man’s name is Carlo Scotti, and his pipe brand is called “Castello”.

Carlo’s choice for his company’s name was an inspired one. He needed a name that had a cognate in many of the European languages (Castle, Castillo, Castelo (Portuguese)), and wanted that name to be evocative of pleasant fantasy. While the name did have a dream like quality, the startup of Castello, and the early years of the company were more akin to a nightmare. Early Castello pipes emulated the English classic shapes, if a man leaned toward that aesthetic; he already had plenty of established brand names to turn to. Carlo outfitted his pipes with Plexiglas, something unfamiliar to men who were quite comfortable with vulcanite. Compounding woes, early Castello pipes were quite small in size, usually carved or sandblasted, and were stamped in a bewildering, rapidly changing manner. Some growth did occur via word of mouth. But that growth was too slow, too little, and by 1953, Castello was close to closing the doors.

Most fairy tales introduce a character or an element that allows the protagonist to overcome peril. For Carlo, this character was Wally Frank, who accidentally bumped into Carlo on a pipe buying trip to Italy. Mr. Frank was smitten by the product and agreed immediately to start importation into the US. Upon hitting New York, Mr. Frank replaced the Castello white bar with a superb counter-point to the Dunhill “White Spot”, a “diamond” inlaid in the bit (actually crimped aluminum), and began to market the pipe to highly skeptical Americans with a wholly new angle. The pipe that the prospective buyer held was not churned out in a factory, but crafted start to finish by one man. The shapes were not created by a machine, but by the hands of a master. This was a very different, very special pipe. In short, Mr. Frank redefined in the minds of many an American what it took to give a pipe a pedigree. Combined with the sudden rise in awareness of chic, upper echelon Italian products (Gucci had just opened their first US boutique in NYC), this approach was a success. Castello took off and never looked back.

Small conflicts do not stop great partnerships, Scotti and Frank worked out the product issue and, by the 1960’s, production had moved into high gear. Carlo hired the likes of Luigi “Gigi” Radice and Pepino Ascorti, who carved at full speed to meet demand. Within the synergy of the three legends, a new shaping aesthetic emerged. Emulations of the English standards were replaced by bold shapes with Italian inspiration. This, in turn, fueled American appetites for the pipes to the point that it was not uncommon for a Castello collector to be placed in a position of having to call tobacconists around the country to try to locate a pipe. Often a premium was negotiated for the product.

With this fair bit of background information on this brand, I move towards the prospect of dating this pipe and again an external link on pipedia.org proved to be useful. Here is the link to dating of Castello pipes on Briar Blues – www.briarblues.com/castello.htm

Even though this article makes for an interesting read and is worth reproducing here, for the sake of brevity, I have reproduced only the relevant information which helps to approximate the date of this particular pipe. However, I implore readers to read the complete well researched article.

  1. 1947 – Carlo Scotti begins the company.  In the beginning (1947 – 1949, maybe 1950 ) the pipes were stamped Mi Reserva ( my reserve ).  Later the Reg No was added.  This Reg No has nothing to do with shape numbers, but is merely the Castello company trademark.
  2. The Old Sea Rock and the Sea Rock co-existed. As far as I know, the OSR was US only, imported by Hollco Rohr, and sported the rhinestone. The Sea Rock goes back to the early days.
  3. Shape numbers. Shape numbers are all 2 digits. A 2 in front indicates a “fancy” interpretation, a 3 in front means that the carving is somehow unique. I don’t know when the change was made, but currently, a π symbol is used instead of the 3xx. I’ve only seen this on Sea Rocks, but that doesn’t mean anything.
  4. Pre ‘K’ grading.  Late 1950’s to mid 1960’s the pipe carried stamps which indicated sizes.   These were as follows; SA, SB, SC, and SS.  SA being the smallest and SS the largest.
  5. Ever wonder where your pipe came from?  Which shop had it first?  If so, read below;

 N1 = Novelli ( Italy )

 N = Noli ( Italy )

 F = Fincato ( Italy )

From the above, it is clear that the stampings on the pipe which is being restored, indicates that this pipe most likely is from 1950’s to mid 1960’s with third largest size in the lineup and came from a shop in Fincato, Italy. However, this information also introduces some ambiguities like the shape # 56 and the diamond inlay which points to US market whereas the lack of Old Sea Rock Briar stamp and the letter F after the shape code points to Italian market. It would be nice if these mysteries could be unraveled by the readers of this blog.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber which has been evenly reamed, and this, for me was a big surprise as most of my inherited pipes have not seen the face of a reamer!!!! The Castello, may well be only the second or third pipe from the collection that appears to have been cared for and could be because of the price that he had to pay! Well, nevertheless, there is a thick layer of cake in the chamber and the rusticated rim top surface shows overflow of lava and accumulation of dust, dirt and grime of all these years of storage. There appears to be no damage to the inner and outer rim edges and the same will be confirmed only after the rim top has been thoroughly cleaned. From the thickness of the cake in the chamber, we feel that the chamber walls have been well protected and do not foresee any heat fissures or cracks. However, the same will be ascertained only after the cake has been completely reamed down to the bare briar. The draught hole is perfectly drilled in the center and opens into the chamber at its base. This should be a great smoker, I say. The beautifully rusticated stummel surface is covered in dust and grime. This grime and dirt can be seen in the deep rustications and lends a dull and lifeless appearance to the pipe. The smooth parallelogram surface bearing the stampings on the shank has darkened as a result of this accumulation. The browns of the raised rustications should contrast beautifully with the rest of the dark stummel surface once it has been cleaned up. The saving grace is that there is no damage to the rustications on the stummel. The vulcanite shank end extension is undamaged but is severely oxidized. The shank end extension will lend a sophisticated and classy touch to the appearance of the pipe once this oxidation is rid off the vulcanite and is nicely polished. The mortise is clogged with heavy accumulations of oils, tars and gunk. This will require some heavy cleaning and scraping. However, though laborious, there is airflow through the shank airway. The stem, surprisingly, is nice and shining with very minor traces of oxidation. The upper and lower stem surface shows minor tooth chatter towards the bite area and upper button edge damage. This, we expect, should be easily addressed just by sanding the bite zone. The airflow through the stem airway is full and easy. The diamond inlay on the stem is undamaged. THE PROCESS
As decided, Abha, my wife, and Jeff worked on the stem first. They ran a couple of pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol, through the stem air way. Once satisfied with the internal cleaning, the stem was immersed in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution to rid the stem of the minor stem oxidation. The discerning reader must have noted the mention of this step for the first time and it’s true. This magic potion/ liquid gold, as Jeff likes to call it, finally reached me, thanks to Jeff who had acted as a courier. The cost of shipping from US is exorbitant and then custom clearance is also a hassle. So when Jeff’s plan to travel here were finalized, I requested him if he could carry it for me and he readily agreed. Thus, I had Mark Hoover send this solution and other products from his store to Jeff and from Idaho, it reached me. By the way, this product works like magic and has reduced my (and now Abha’s…LOL) work by half. After a soak of about 4 hours, Jeff took the stem out, cleaned it under running tap water, wiped it with microfiber cloth and ran a couple of pipe cleaners through the airway to remove the liquid from the internals of the stem. It was amazing to see the transformation in the stem.While the stem was soaking in the “liquid gold”, Abha and Jeff reamed out the cake from the chamber using the first three heads of the Castleford reamer. The amount of carbon that was reamed out belied our initial expectations. This was followed by sanding the walls of the chamber with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper by our little expert on this step, Pavni, my youngest daughter. She just loves doing this task and takes immense pride in making the walls smooth. Dear readers don’t even think for a moment that we were sitting idle while all this work was in progress! All this while, Steve and I were deeply engrossed in admiring the pipes from my collection and sipping on our cold, chilled and frosted Beer…LOL!! Once the chamber was cleaned and spruced up, the duo launched an irrepressible and determined assault on the clogged mortise. The battle was so severe that at one point we thought that Jeff and Abha would throw in the towel, but they persisted and a pile of pipe cleaners, q tips and gallons of isopropyl alcohol later, the mortise was declared clean. When Jeff admitted this to be one of the filthiest cleanings he had undertaken, I smiled inwardly as all of my grand old man’s pipes were in such a state!!When Abha and Jeff declared that they were through with their cleaning, Steve just glanced at their expressions and the pile of pipe cleaners and q tips in front and immediately started to work further on the stummel (he is indeed a very wise man, I say!!) and seeing him and them, I too left the comfort of my perch to lend him a helping hand.

We cleaned the surface of the stummel with cotton pads and Murphy’s oil soap. The deep rustications were thoroughly scrubbed to remove the grime and dirt lodged between them. This was followed by a wash and a scrub under running tap water using a hard bristled tooth brush. The stummel looks clean and vibrant at this stage with the brown tips of the rustications contrasting majestically against the dark of the rest of the stummel surface. Next we addressed the heavy oxidation on the vulcanite shank extension. I was mentally prepared for lot of elbow greasing using sandpapers, when Steve just dabbed the shank extension with alcohol, flamed it with a Bic lighter flame and rigorously scrubbed it with the microfiber cloth. A couple of repetitions and the shank extension is clean and oxidized surface is history. This was an interesting learning for me. I followed it up with micromesh cycle of wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the shank extension and set it aside. The contrast of the shiny black shank extension with the rustications looks amazing and adds additional bling to an already beautiful pipe.We further revitalized the briar by rubbing “Before and After Restoration” balm deep in to the briar. Care was taken to ensure that the balm is applied within the surfaces of the rustications by rubbing the balm with our fingers. The stummel was set aside for 20 minutes for letting the balm be absorbed by the briar. With the stummel resting, we turned our attention to the stem repairs. As appreciated earlier, it was decided to address the minor tooth chatter by sanding the bite zone with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and if this fails, progress to the next process. Steve did the honors and sanded the tooth chatter with the sandpaper as decided. He also worked the button to crisp edges. Fortunately, the issue of tooth chatter was completely addressed.The task of polishing fell on me. Under the watchful eye of my mentor, Steve, I went through the complete cycle of micromesh pads, wet sanding through 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem clean with a moist cloth to observe the progress. Once I was through with the micromesh polish cycle, I rubbed a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem and set it aside. The stem looks amazing and the, now clean, diamond inlay adds additional bling to an already beautiful pipe. We finished this project with a vigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth and worked it to a nice, rich and deep shine. It was a wonderful experience to work with these gurus of pipe restoration. Their knowledge about all things pipes and tobacco is just amazing. Their precise, measured movements and speed while working on a pipe, is a treat to watch and emulate. Here are pictures of the finished pipe…cheers.

Another CBP Hudson Bay Canadian from the Bertrams Lot


Blog by Steve Laug

Give the previous blogs a read to have an idea about the Bertram Collection that I am working on these days. I can’t adequately describe how overwhelmed I am when I look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. Jeff is doing the major cleanup on the lot as that would be more than I could handle by myself in moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes the next one I chose was a long shank C.B.P. Hudson Bay Canadian. There were two C.B.P. brand pipes in the lot and both were long shank Canadians. Like the first one this one also had a smooth finish that was dirty but the grain shone through showing me that this was a beautiful pipe. It had a long shank and short stem. There was very little cake in the bowl and the rim top looked almost pristine. The stem was oxidized and had some pitting on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe to give an idea of its condition before he did his cleanup. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top looked really good with a light lava and grime coat. There were some small nicks on the rim top and outer edge but other than that it was very clean. The bowl had a very thin cake and was quite clean.He also took photos of the sides of the bowl and heel to show the interesting grain on the pipe. The finish is very dirty and it looks like there are a few fills in the briar but this is another interesting pipe. Jeff took photos to capture the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. The first photo shows stamping on the top side which read C.B.P. over Hudson Bay. The stamping on the underside read Algerian Briar. All the stamping on the pipe is clear and readable.The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the pitting and oxidation on the surface of both sides of the stem. There are also some nicks on the edge of the button.I had already cleaned another CBP Hudson Bay Canadian and written a blog about it so I turned once again to have a look at the information on the brand that I included on that blog. Here is the link to the previous blog – https://rebornpipes.com/2019/04/06/the-3-pipe-from-a-collection-of-bertrams-and-others-a-cbp-hudson-bay-canadian/. I quote from the information found there and also include the pictures that I had tracked down about the brand.

Now it was time to try to unravel the mystery of the stamping on the shank of this pipe. The stamping Algerian Briar was clear but did not tell me who the maker of the pipe was. The clue that I had to work with was the stamping on the top of the shank – C.B.P. Hudson Bay. With that I had two options to check out – would there be a listing anywhere for the C.B.P. brand or would there be anything under Hudson Bay. I turned first to look for anything about the C.B.P. brand. I looked on WMTP (Who Made That Pipe) and there was nothing. I looked on Pipedia and there was nothing. I looked on the PipePhil site and there was nothing. I looked at the same sites for the Hudson Bay stamp. The results were the same. I stopped and paused for a moment and thought about the initials. What brand did I know that fit the C.B.P. logo? There was only one that I could remember – short memory or short list? Your call. That brand was C.B. Perkins. I turned again to PipePhil and Pipedia and I found some help.

First on the PipePhil site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c1.html) I found a connection. I have included a screen capture below to show what I saw. Not counting the CBP in an oval logo on the stem what caught my eye was the C.B.P. Heritage stamp on the shank. Now I had the connection I was looking for – C.B.P. was linked to C.B. Perkins. Now I needed to have a look at Pipedia and see what I could find out about the brand.

I checked first in the Pipemaker list by country that is on the site and could not find the brand. I then did a quick search on Pipedian and found this link: https://pipedia.org/wiki/C.B._Perkins. I quote from that site in full.

The first C.B. Perkins store opened in Boston in the early 1900’s. Perkins quickly became the leading retail tobacconist in New England, a position it held for over 75 years. In 1986 Perkins management sold their Pennsylvania and New Jersey stores to DES Tobacco Corporation.

DES is a wholly owned subsidiary of the S. Frieder and Sons Company. S. Frieder and Sons had been a cigar manufacturer since 1920. In 1978 S. Frieder sold its manufacturing business to United States Tobacco so it could focus all its assets and energy on the retail tobacco business under the name of DES Tobacco. Thus, the merger of C.B. Perkins and DES represented four generations of tobacco experience.

There were also some photos of the shop and business card courtesy of Doug Valitchka. I am including those here as well. Now I knew that I was dealing with a Tobacco Pipe Shop pipe from C.B. Perkins. However they did not make pipes but tended to have pipes made for them by English pipe maker such as Comoys, GBD and others. So that is where the hunt ends. There are no COM stamps on the pipe and no shape numbers to help nail down a maker. The shape reminds me a lot of both of those makers. But at least I know what the C.B.P. stamp means. Now it is time to work on this pipe.

Before I began my part of the restoration I summarize Jeff’s work on the pipe and include photos of what the pipe looked like when I received it in Vancouver. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the general condition of the rim top. Other than minor scratches and nicks it was in great condition. Both the inner edge and the outer edge of the rim look really good. The stem photos show the pitted surface of the vulcanite and some nicks in the button edge on both sides. There were light tooth marks and chatter on this stem.I polished the rim top and the rest of the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Once again I am surprised by how the Balm really makes the grain stand out. The pipe really looks good at this point and the grain stands out beautifully. I am very happy with the results. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the pitting on the surface of the stem. I started polishing the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and took the following photos.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. When I get to this point in the refurbishing or restoration process I get excited to see what the finished pipe will look like. It is time to buff and wax it. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the vulcanite stem until there was a rich shine. The polished briar came alive with buffing and the straight, swirled and flame grain just popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem developed a rich glow. The finished pipe is a long shank Canadian shaped pipe that really is a comfortable handful of briar. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 7 1/2 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be putting this one on the rebornpipes store soon. If you are looking for a long shank Canadian from a historic Pipe Shop – C.B. Perkins this might just be what you are looking for. Let me know if you are interested. Thanks for walking through the restoration of this with me it was a pleasure to work on.

Restoring my Grandfather’s “Brakner” with Steve and Jeff Laug


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

How often does it happen in one’s life that the person/ persons you are very keen to meet do finally meet up for a week or so? This, especially with the background when each of these friends is from across the world, has to cross the seven seas, numerous hurdles of visas and fine tuned itineraries of all the stake holders!! Well, believe you me readers, these remain as the most treasured days.

I recently had this great experience when Mr. Dal Stanton (The Pipe Steward) from Sofia, Bulgaria, Mr. Steve Laug (rebornpipes.com) from Vancouver, Canada and his brother Jeff from Idaho, USA, visited my family. The following week was a flurry of activities, which also included learning the finer nuances of pipe refurbishing while restoring some nice pipes from my grand old man’s collection, it was something like OJT (on the job training). One such pipe that was selected by Steve was this Brakner. This pipe was nowhere in the “To Restore” list of pipes that I had drawn out as I thought it to be some run-of-the-mill pipe, but was cherry picked by Steve with a smile while sifting through the pile of pipes.

This uniquely rusticated billiard shaped pipe is stamped on the smooth surface on the left side of the shank as “BRAKNER ANTIQUE” over “DENMARK”. The smooth surface on the right side of the shank is stamped as “HAND-CUT” followed by # 108, most likely the shape number. The vulcanite stem is adorned with a green dot (larger than a Dunhill stem logo), which has now faded to a light brown color. There is a smooth band around the end of the shank.I researched this maker and it was then that I realized the uniqueness of this brand and why Mr. Steve had selected it to work on. I visited rebornpipes.com and sure enough, Mr. Steve has worked on a Brakner before and researched the maker/ brand in detail. Here is the link to the write up that he has posted on his web page: https://rebornpipes.com/2018/08/26/breathing-new-life-into-a-brakner-antique-hand-cut-807/

From this write up, I have picked this picture which shows the Brakner design # 108 (ticked in red) that we were working on. The only variation is that my inherited pipe has a smooth band on the stummel below the rim.Having read the detailed account, I now know that I am holding a piece of pipe history and cannot thank my lucky stars for the inheritance and having being introduced to Mr. Steve.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
As is generally observed with most of my grandfather’s pipe, the chamber of this pipe too is filled with a thick cake with overflowing lava covering the rim top surface. The thick cake hides the condition of the inner walls of the chamber and will be ascertained only after the cake has been taken down to bare briar. Similarly, the condition of the rim top surface will be commented once the overflowing lava has been scraped off. However, with the inner rim edge, Steve and I suspect charring in the 4 o’clock direction and is highlighted in pastel blue circle. The outer rim edge too shows damage in the 6 o’clock direction and is circled in yellow. There is a thin smooth briar band extending down from the outer rim edge, which too, is covered in overflow of oils, tars and grime. The contrast of dark and medium brown stains on the rim top and the band should highlight the beautiful grain on the briar and will go well with the rusticated finish on the bowl and shank once cleaned up. The mortise and the shank air way are clogged as expected making the air flow restricted and laborious. However, with the draught hole being right at the bottom of the chamber and the perfect alignment of the stem airway, tenon and the shank airway should make this one a fantastic smoker. The excitement of restoration and fun filled involvement of Steve, Jeff, Abha and me, all resulted in none of us taking any pictures of before and detailed pictures of the process. Each one thought that other was taking the pictures and the end result was that none of us took any!! Lol…

The unique rustications on the stummel surface are covered in oils, tars, grime and dust of all these years of use and storage. However, once cleaned up, the dark of the stummel should contrast beautifully with the smooth brown shank end band, the rim top and the band below the rim outer edge. The vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized and showed heavy tooth chatter and deep tooth marks on the upper stem surface. The button on the upper surface has bite marks and will have to be rebuilt and reshaped. The same holds true for the lower stem surface, albeit with less severity. As brought out earlier, the trademark green dot on Brakner pipe stem has turned a shade of brown. The tenon does not seat flush inside the mortise. This issue, in all probability, should get addressed once the mortise is cleaned off the entire accumulated gunk. Sorry again, I did not take sufficient pictures of the stem either!!All in all, judging from the initial examination, we do not envisage any major/ serious issues to present themselves in the course of restoring this beauty, with the exception of charred inner rim edge and damaged outer rim edge.

THE PROCESS
Even before Steve and Jeff had arrived, it was decided that Abha, my wife who helps me in the initial clean up, and Jeff who does it for Steve, would work together on the initial clean up and Steve and I would do the repairs and final finish on these pipes. This would help us understand and learn the techniques and processes involved in restorations. This exactly what we did while working on this pipe, but with a twist, which I shall bring out later.

Abha and Jeff reamed the chamber with Castleford pipe reamer set (one of the many gifts for Abha from Steve and Jeff) followed by cleaning the mortise and shank airway using dental pick, cotton buds/ hard and soft bristled pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Once the shank internals were cleaned, we called it a day.

And this is where the twist occurs!!

When we met again over breakfast the next day, the Brakner was completed!! In short, what really started as a combined project was eventually completed by Steve and Jeff alone. What follows is the narrated sequence and pictures that Steve and Jeff shared with me over a pot of coffee (perfect brew was demonstrated by these two gentlemen as we are predominantly tea drinkers).

Once the chamber and shank were cleaned, Jeff cleaned the external surface of the stummel and the smooth rim top surface with Murphy’s Oil soap and cotton swabs followed by scrubbing the rusticated surface with a toothbrush and dish washing soap. This rid the stummel rustications of all the accumulated dust, dirt and grime and both the smooth brown bands around the rim and shank now contrasts beautifully with the dark stummel surface. However, the inner and outer rim damage revealed itself in all its ugliness and this is what Steve decided to tackle at this stage in restoration. No pictures available to show the condition of the stummel at this point…sincere apologies!!

Steve began the process of addressing the inner rim damage by creating a bevel to the inner rim edge to mask the blackened rim and address the out-of-round chamber with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once satisfied with the repairs, he polished the entire rim top surface with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. The rim top surface now appears amazing and the repairs appear to be almost non-existent. To enliven the briar wood and further enhance the contrast of the bands with the rest of the dark stummel surface, he rubbed a little quantity of “Before and After” balm in to stummel surface and set it aside for 20 minutes for the balm to be absorbed in to the briar. Thereafter he hand buffed it with a microfiber to deepen the shine. The stummel looks nice and vibrant. All this while, Jeff was busy working the stem. He cleaned the internals of the stem using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Once the stem internals were clean, he cleaned the stem surface with cotton pads dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This step also helps to remove surface oxidation to some extent. With this, he handed the stem back to Steve to address the tooth chatter and deep bite marks.To address the issue of bite marks and tooth chatter on the stem surfaces, Steve flamed the surface with the flame of a Bic lighter. Vulcanite has the property to return to its original shape when heated and this is exactly what was being done. The tooth chatter and deeper bite marks were raised to the surface to a great extent. The remaining minor tooth indentations were filled with clear super glue and set aside to cure. Once the fill had hardened (and it was pretty quick, thanks to the 43 degrees temperature that was prevalent at that point in time!!), he sanded the fill and the entire stem surfaces with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. This not only ensured a nice blend of the filled areas with the rest of the stem surface, but also removed the oxidation from the surface. He rubbed the stem surface with some Extra Virgin Olive Oile and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem surface. It was at this stage that self, Abha and my kids joined them for breakfast. After a hearty breakfast, I launched a determined assault on the stem, subjecting it to the complete cycle of micromesh polish. The end result is a gorgeous, smooth and shiny looking black of the vulcanite stem. This was followed by the routine regime of polish with carnauba wax using my hand held rotary tool. The Brakner looks unique and oozes quality. Here are a few pictures that should give you a fair idea about the end results… Thank you all for being a part of this journey and all the encouragement and support extended. P.S. – As I mentioned above, the excitement of working and learning from Steve and Jeff coupled with the ambiguity of who is taking pictures and not to mention the chilled Beer and humorous banter, all resulted in a limited number of pictures.

Secondly, those of you who have been following rebornpipes.com regularly, would surely have read the detailed write up on the restoration of an 1846 BBB Amber stem by the master story teller, Dal Stanton (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/05/30/west-meets-east-in-india-to-restore-a-grandsons-treasure-an-1846-bbb/) !! While in one corner of the world, on the 10th floor apartment in Sofia, Bulgaria one of the longest write ups on rebornpipes.com was being shaped, here I was trying to piece all the processes involved in restoration of this unique piece of pipe history from memory and ending up with what could be the shortest write up on rebornpipes.com.

A National Washington, D.C. Straight Rhodesian from the Bertram Collection


Blog by Steve Laug

Give the previous blogs a read to have an idea about the Bertram Collection that I am working on these days. I can’t adequately describe how overwhelmed I am when I look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. Jeff is doing the major cleanup on the lot as that would be more than I could handle by myself in moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes the next one I chose is a National Washington, D.C. straight Rhodesian to be the next pipe that I would work on. It has some amazing straight grain around the bowl and shank. The bowl had cake in the chamber that was no problem. The rim top had some darkening and lava overflow on the back side. The inner edge of the bowl looked like it might have some burn damage and the outer edge of the bowl appeared to be in good condition but we would know more once the bowl had been reamed and cleaned. The exterior of the briar looked lifeless and was dusty with the grime of years of storage. The stem had some oxidation, tooth chatter and marks near the button on both sides. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he began his cleanup work on it. Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The rim top had a thick coat of lava and the bowl had a thick cake. It was hard to see what the inner and outer edge looked like with the cake and lava. Jeff took a picture of the bowl side and the heel to show the marvelous grain on the bowl. It really is quite stunning and very dirty!The next photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank. The left side is stamped with National over Washington, D.C. The stamping on the shank is very readable.The next two photos show the condition of the stem surfaces. The stem was oxidized and had some calcification on the surface as well as tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I have already done the work on one of the National pipes in the Bertram lot so I turned to that to have another look at the history of the brand (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/05/21/doing-some-cosmetic-work-on-a-national-pipes-rhodesian/). I quote in full from that blog.

Before I started my restoration work I wanted to refresh my memory about the brand. I remembered from previous National Pipes that I had worked on that there was a tie to the Bertram Pipe Company in Washington, D.C. I also knew that it was a very different company than the National Briar Pipe Company of Jersey City, New Jersey but that is where all the trails let in terms of Pipedia and Pipephil’s site. I turned back to a previous blog that I had written on the brand when I restored a pipe with the same stampings to review the history and connection of the brand to Bertram. https://rebornpipes.com/tag/national-washington-d-c-pipes/. I knew that the fact that there were several of these included with the large lot of Bertram pipes that Jeff and I purchased was not accidental. Here is the link to that previous blog. I quote in part:

I had a gut feeling that the pipe had some connection to Bertram Pipe Company of Washington DC but only the vaguest memory of that connection. I could not remember where I picked that up but just had the memory. I did some searching on the Internet and found a National Briar Pipe Company of Jersey City, New Jersey with no clear ties to Washington DC on the Pipedia site. This was the company that purchased the Doodler after Tracy Mincer died. I could see that the Jersey City pipes were stamped differently and all had line names stamped on them. On the Pipephil site I found an English version that had very different stamping on the left side of the shank as well as Made in England on the right side of the shank.

Thus I was reminded of the non-connection to the New Jersey Pipe Company. The blog went on to record some information that tied the National Washington, D.C. Company to Bertram more definitively. I quote

I…posted a question on Smokers Forum (SF) and Pipe Smokers Unlimited regarding the brand. I received several responses that gave me information. One of them on SF came from Ed Klang and provided me with some confirmation regarding my memory of the connection with Bertram. I quote him in full, “In the history of the Bertram company, after the fire at the Washington, D.C. facility and the decision was made to discontinue Bertram production a group of employees and a few investors wanted to buy the rights to the Bertram name, which was turned down and it was then proposed that they would rebrand the pipes as National, no mention was made whether anything ever came of that proposal. Supposedly this group did produce pipes for a while but the effort was finally abandoned and I have never been able to reliably confirm this. Just bits and pieces here and there.” Thanks Ed. This is the random memory that I was trying to dig up.

I also received a reply on SF from Radiobob that read as follows: “National Pipe and Tobacco was located on the 1700 block of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., just about a block from where I worked. I still have two Canadians that I bought there, as well as a Comoy’s Patina Apple. In my recollection, it closed down–much to my regret–in the mid to late 1980s.”

Those responses gave me the kind of details that I always find helpful in my restoration work. I will continue to do some digging on the company and see what I can find but that bit confirmed the visual tie to the Bertram Company of DC. Thank you for your help Ed and Bob.

When I received the pipe Jeff had already reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He had scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He had scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He had rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. There was still some damage on the back inner edge and some darkening to the rim top toward the back of the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava. You can see the damage on the inner edge of the rim at the back side and the darkening on the rim top. The stem photos show that the oxidation is gone. The surface of the vulcanite looked very good. There were some light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button.I also took a photo of the stamping on the left and right side of the shank showing how the stamping was laid out.I worked on the inner edge of the rim and the darkening on the backside of the top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and remove the darkening. I polished it further with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the scratches in the briar.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. (I forgot to take photos of the bowl and rim top after I polished it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads.) I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter into the surface of the stem. Once the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. This is the part of the restoration process that I really look forward to! When all the parts are finished and the pipe is clean then I put the stem and bowl back together and buff the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polish the briar and any minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there is a rich shine. This National Washington, D.C. pipe is a classic straight Rhodesian shape with a natural finish that highlights some amazing straight and flame grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Buffing the pipe made the briar come alive and the grain popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautifully grained National Straight Rhodesian that feels really good in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

A National Washington, D.C. Bent Billiard from the Bertram Collection


Blog by Steve Laug

Give the previous blogs a read to have an idea about the Bertram Collection that I am working on these days. I can’t adequately describe how overwhelmed I am when I look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. Jeff is doing the major cleanup on the lot as that would be more than I could handle by myself in moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes the next one I chose is a Made in London National Washington, D.C. 33 Bent Billiard to be the next pipe that I would work on. It has some amazing straight grain around the bowl and shank. The bowl had cake in the chamber that was no problem. The rim top had some darkening and lava overflow on the back side. The inner and outer edge of the bowl appeared to be in good condition but we would know more once the bowl had been reamed and cleaned. The exterior of the briar looked lifeless and was dusty with the grime of years of storage. The stem had some oxidation, tooth chatter and marks near the button on both sides. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he began his cleanup work on it. Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The rim top had a thick coat of lava and the bowl had a thick cake. It was hard to see what the inner and outer edge looked like with the cake and lava.Jeff took a picture of the bowl side and the heel to show the marvelous grain on the bowl. It really is quite stunning and very dirty! There is also something mis-stamped on right side of the bowl. Under a magnifying lens it reads England.The next two photos show the stamping on the sides of the shank. The left side is stamped with National over Washington, D.C.  over Made in London. At the shank/bowl junction it is stamped 33. The stamping on the shank was slightly double stamped and had some white paint in it.The next two photos show the condition of the stem surfaces. The stem was oxidized and had some calcification on the surface as well as tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I have already done the work on one of the National pipes in the Bertram lot so I turned to that to have another look at the history of the brand (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/05/21/doing-some-cosmetic-work-on-a-national-pipes-rhodesian/). I quote in full from that blog.

Before I started my restoration work I wanted to refresh my memory about the brand. I remembered from previous National Pipes that I had worked on that there was a tie to the Bertram Pipe Company in Washington, D.C. I also knew that it was a very different company than the National Briar Pipe Company of Jersey City, New Jersey but that is where all the trails let in terms of Pipedia and Pipephil’s site. I turned back to a previous blog that I had written on the brand when I restored a pipe with the same stampings to review the history and connection of the brand to Bertram. https://rebornpipes.com/tag/national-washington-d-c-pipes/. I knew that the fact that there were several of these included with the large lot of Bertram pipes that Jeff and I purchased was not accidental. Here is the link to that previous blog. I quote in part:

I had a gut feeling that the pipe had some connection to Bertram Pipe Company of Washington DC but only the vaguest memory of that connection. I could not remember where I picked that up but just had the memory. I did some searching on the Internet and found a National Briar Pipe Company of Jersey City, New Jersey with no clear ties to Washington DC on the Pipedia site. This was the company that purchased the Doodler after Tracy Mincer died. I could see that the Jersey City pipes were stamped differently and all had line names stamped on them. On the Pipephil site I found an English version that had very different stamping on the left side of the shank as well as Made in England on the right side of the shank.

Thus I was reminded of the non-connection to the New Jersey Pipe Company. The blog went on to record some information that tied the National Washington, D.C. company to Bertram more definitively. I quote

I…posted a question on Smokers Forum (SF) and Pipe Smokers Unlimited regarding the brand. I received several responses that gave me information. One of them on SF came from Ed Klang and provided me with some confirmation regarding my memory of the connection with Bertram. I quote him in full, “In the history of the Bertram company, after the fire at the Washington, D.C. facility and the decision was made to discontinue Bertram production a group of employees and a few investors wanted to buy the rights to the Bertram name, which was turned down and it was then proposed that they would rebrand the pipes as National, no mention was made whether anything ever came of that proposal. Supposedly this group did produce pipes for a while but the effort was finally abandoned and I have never been able to reliably confirm this. Just bits and pieces here and there.” Thanks Ed. This is the random memory that I was trying to dig up.

I also received a reply on SF from Radiobob that read as follows: “National Pipe and Tobacco was located on the 1700 block of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., just about a block from where I worked. I still have two Canadians that I bought there, as well as a Comoy’s Patina Apple. In my recollection, it closed down–much to my regret–in the mid to late 1980s.”

Those responses gave me the kind of details that I always find helpful in my restoration work. I will continue to do some digging on the company and see what I can find but that bit confirmed the visual tie to the Bertram Company of DC. Thank you for your help Ed and Bob.

Now I have a different one that has the National stamp and also is stamped Made in London. There is also a mistaken stamp on the side of the bowl that says ENGLAND. This is another piece of the puzzle for me. I know National had other pipe companies in Europe make there pipes. This one has a very Barling like look to it. I wonder if it was not made by them for National? On with the cleanup and restoration on this Bent Billiard.

When I received the pipe Jeff had already reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He had scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He had scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He had rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. There was still some darkening to the rim top toward the back of the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava. The inner edge of the rim has some damage and nicks on it. The out edge of the rim looks good. There is some rim darkening on the back side of the bowl. The stem photos show that the oxidation is gone. The surface of the vulcanite looked very good. The tooth marks and chatter are near the button on both sides. I also took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank showing how the stamping was laid out. It appeared to have been double stamped and the stamping whitened. There was also a strange mistaken stamping on the right side of the bowl – it read ENGLAND.I worked on the inner edge of the rim and the darkening on the backside of the top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and remove the darkening. There were two noticeable divots in the otherwise flawless briar – one on the left side of the heel of the bowl and the other on the right side of the shank. I darkened them with a black Sharpie pen and then filled them in with clear super glue. Once the repair cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and smoothed further with 400 grit sandpaper. I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. Between the polishing with the micromesh pads and the balm I did not have to stain the repaired areas. They blend in very well. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter into the surface of the stem. Once the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry.  This is the part of the restoration process that I really look forward to! When all the parts are finished and the pipe I clean then I put the stem and bowl back together and buff the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polish the briar and any minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there is a rich shine. This National Washington, D.C. pipe is a classic English looking bent billiard shape with a natural finish that highlights some amazing straight and flame grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Buffing the pipe made the briar come alive and the grain popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautifully grained English Made National Bent Billiard. The pipe feels really good in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.