Tag Archives: Repairing a cracked bowl

Recommissioning an Italian La Strada Scenario Canadian 130


Blog by Dal Stanton

Pipes come to me in many ways – pipe picking in bazaars, second-hand shops and antique shops.  The eBay auction block is another way I procure pipes to restore to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Another gratifying way pipes have come to me are from people who hear about the Daughters and want to help.  They donate pipes from their own collections or pipes that were passed on from loved ones.  In 2017, my wife and I were in Butler, PA, speaking at a church that has financially and prayerfully supported the work we do in Bulgaria for many years.  We were invited to visit the home of Dan and Jane Hartzler, who we’ve known for many years.  We had a great time visiting and Dan said he wanted to give me something.  He brought out 4 very well-used pipes in a rack and offered them to me to use to benefit our work with the Daughters.  The pipes came from his now deceased father, Rex, who was an Ohioan all his life from his birth in 1922 till his final day in July of 2011.  When I receive pipes in this way I always try to find out about their former steward – it adds depth of story and meaning when I restore pipes that are passed on.Dan shared with me about his father during that visit and in subsequent emails after we departed Butler. It’s not possible to capture an entire lifetime in the brevity of this write-up, but I found very interesting was that Rex had a yearning for adventure in his early years.  When he started college in 1940, he also took flying lessons and subsequently joined the Navy pilot program during WWII.  This choice in his life as a young man brought him into an interesting role during WWII.  He piloted blimps flying protective duty over the Panama Canal – a critical naval east/west artery to connect the Atlantic and Pacific naval operations.  This description from BlueJacket.com is interesting and adds insight to Rex’s duties as a ‘lighter than air’ pilot.  The primary role of the blimp was directed toward anti-submarine warfare.  The toll on merchant marine fleets were heavy during the beginning years of the Atlantic theater supporting the Allied war effort in Europe.  The ‘Lighter Than Air’ units played a key role in turning the tide of these major naval losses.  To guard shipping using the Panama Canal, blimps were stationed on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides to ward off submarine attacks on shipping.  Dan told me that is father never piloted again after the end of the war and settled into married life in 1946 and raised a family in Ohio.

Dan looked for a picture of his father smoking his pipe that I could add but couldn’t find one.  One reason for this was probably the fact that Dan’s mother didn’t like pipe smoke in the house, so Rex would normally load up the bowl with his favorite blend and go outside where he walked among the trees – and by looking at some of the pipes that Dan gave me, we concluded that he probably knocked on the trees or on other hard surfaces to clear the ashes!  I’m thankful for Dan’s contribution of his dad’s pipes to benefit the Daughters.  I brought them back to Bulgaria and placed them in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection online and this is where Jim found the Canadian he wanted to commission.  Jim came to my Dreamers inventory with Canadians on his mind.  After looking at different offerings he came down to Rex’s La Strada, which I was very pleased to commission and now, begin restoring this well-used La Strada Scenario from Rex to a new steward.

Jim added one more request for the La Strada Canadian when I began work on it.  He sent this short note with a link:

dal,
noticed this as an improvement for many pipes. would it do well for the pipe you’re working on for me?  https://pipedia.org/wiki/Airflow:_The_Key_to_Smoking_Pleasure

 jim

The title of the Pipedia article piqued my interest and it introduced me to debate regarding “opening” the airway in a pipe to improve the physics of airflow.  The author of the article, Ken Campbell, originally posted it to The Pipe Collector, the official newsletter of The National Association of Pipe Collectors (NASPC), I believe in 2011 where he makes a compelling argument.  Ken Campbell sited those who did not agree with his assessments, but what I found interesting was the science behind the proposition that increasing the diameter of the airway, if done correctly, according to the author. can enhance the enjoyment, reduce gurgles, difficulties in keeping the bowl lit, etc.  A step closer to pipe smoker’s nirvana!  The science is interesting, and whether it’s correct or not, I’m not sure, but it’s compelling.  I’m repeating this paragraph from Campbell’s, ‘The Key to Smoking Pleasure’ in toto including the pipe artisans he sites to make his case:

My first clue came from an article I read in Pipes & Tobacco in the Winter/1996/97 edition, early in 1997. The article was entitled “Nature’s Designs” by Dayton H. Matlick and was about Lars Ivarsson, his pipe making and some of his philosophy and knowledge about smoking. I quote Messrs. Matlick and Ivarsson from this article: “Unrestricted airflow through the entire channel is essential for an easy-smoking pipe….’Once you pick the shape and size of pipe you like, test the airflow,’ says Lars Ivarsson. ‘Draw in through the empty pipe at normal smoking force. There should be no sound or, at most, a deep, hollow sound. This means the airflow is not restricted, an essential element of a good-smoking pipe. If you have any whistling sounds,… meaning restricted airflow, you will probably have trouble keeping it lit and it will probably smoke wet. According to Lars, ‘You’re getting turbulence in the airstream when you exceed a certain speed. The sound of that turbulence indicates that the smoke will get separated. Smoke is actually microdrops of moisture containing hot air and aroma. When air passes quickly through a restricted passageway, turbulence moves the heavy particles, including the moisture, to the perimeter, like separating cream from milk. This can be caused by too small a diameter or sharp corners in the smoke passage [which is] an extremely important issue….[T]he physics of the boring of your pipe will definitely have an impact on the taste of the pipe and your smoking pleasure. For all of his pipes, Lars uses a four millimeter [Ed. about 5/32nd of an inch] channel from one end of the pipe to the other. This may vary with the pipe maker, but the sound test will still hold true.”

The article is interesting, and I’m always interested in trying new things to expand my restoration repertoire, so I responded to Jim saying that I would give it a try, but because I had not done this before, I would need to research it more to make sure I get it right.  So, opening the airway of this La Strada Scenario Canadian is what I need to investigate and look for longer drill bits to add to my collection.

These were the pictures of Rex’s Canadian posted in ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ that got Jim’s attention.

‘La Strada’ simply means, ‘The Street’ in Italian.  The information gleaned from Pipedia and Pipephil.eu (See LINK) point to the La Strada name being primarily an Italian pipe production made for export, especially to the US.  Pipedia also added this bit of information: La Strada was an Italian export brand. Its large formats had some success in the USA, and were included in the 1970 Tinder Box catalog.  Steve restored a very nice looking La Strada Staccato found on rebornpipes (See LINK) where he posted this page from Tinderbox showing La Strada Offerings.  The Scenario shown on this page is a Bent Stem Sitter.  Interestingly, the Staccato example is the Canadian shape that I have on the worktable. As I was looking at the Staccato line, I recalled that I have a nice quarter bent Billiard La Strada Staccato in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection available for commissioning!  The ‘strapped’ sculpting and matte finish is the Staccato hallmark which I like.Looking at the La Strada Scenario Canadian now on the worktable, it is evident that it was put in service a good bit and the thick, uneven cake in the chamber shows this.  The lava over the rim is also thick revealing the signs of Rex’s stummel thumping practice as he would flip the Canadian over in his hand and thump it on a nearby tree to dislodge the ashes.  I take a few pictures below focusing in this area.  The rim’s fore section is nicked and chipped from this.  The second picture is looking at the back side of the bowl and the darkened area over the rim which was most likely how Rex lit his pipe.  Both pictures reveal the grime covering the stummel in need of cleaning.  The short stem of the Canadian reveals deep oxidation in the vulcanite and bite compressions on the upper- and lower-bit areas.With the initial assessment of the pipe’s condition completed, I begin the restoration by adding the stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer to begin addressing the deep oxidation in the stem.  I don’t believe that the soak will fully remove the oxidation, but this is a start in the right direction.  The first picture below shows the La Strada on the far right after the communal activity of cleaning the airways before putting the stems into the soak.  Using pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, I ream out the oils collected in the airways.  I not only am cleaning the airway but sparing the B & A Deoxidizer bath from undo contamination!  The stuff is expensive, and I want it to stretch as long as possible!  After cleaning the airway, I place the La Strada’s stem in the bath for several hours. After some hours, I fish the stem out of the bath and drain the excess Deoxidizer back into the bath.  I then use a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to wipe the stem down removing the raised oxidation resulting from the soak.  I also clear out the airway of fluid and clean it again with pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%.  As expected, my naked eye still detects the dark green evidence of residual oxidation in the stem – the pictures do not pick it up.  For now, to start the stem revitalization, I coat the surface with paraffin oil (a mineral oil) and put the stem aside to absorb the oil and dry. Now, looking to the Canadian stummel, I take a close-up of the chamber area showing the thick carbon cake. To address this, I start by reaming the chamber with the Pipnet Reaming Kit starting with the smallest of the 4 blade heads available.  After putting down paper towel to help in cleaning, I go to work.  Reaming the chamber not only cleans and gives the chamber a fresh start, but it allows me to see the briar underneath the cake to identify any potential burning issues with the chamber. I use 3 blade heads to ream the chamber then I shift to using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to further scrape the chamber wall and to reach down to the floor of the chamber. After this, I sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen to give me reach and leverage as I sand.  Sanding removes the final carbon cake hold outs and helps smooth the chamber surface.  The second picture shows the full arsenal of tools used to address the chamber reaming. After I wipe the carbon dust with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean, I give the chamber an inspection.  About 2/3s down into the chamber there are evidences of some heat cracking which I don’t believe are serious enough to address with more than providing a new protective layer on the chamber wall.  I’ll do this later with a coating of either pipe mud or using a mixture made from activated charcoal and yogurt (or sour cream).  I take two pictures, the first with an open aperture to see more clearly the cracking.  Below the cracking, a small reaming ‘shelf’ has developed from too much forced pressure from the reaming tool.  I’ll work on smoothing that out with sanding aiming for a uniformed chamber contour. Next, to address the grime and oils on the Canadian bowl and long shank and to work on the lava flow on the rim, I first take a few pictures going ‘around the horn’ showing the starting condition. Next, I start by using undiluted Murphy’s Soap with a cotton pad and scrub the surface.  I also use a Winchester pocketknife to carefully scrape caking on the rim.  A brass wire brush also helps in this effort on the rim which helps clean but does not add to the rim erosion.  I start with the scrubbing using the Murphy’s Soap and work through scrubbing the smooth surface and scraping and brushing with the brass wire brush the rim area.I do an initial rinsing of the soap in the sink, and then immediately dive into cleaning the internals using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in alcohol as well as the full range of long shank brushes reaching through the long Canadian airway.  I also excavate much oil grime and tars from the mortise and reaching into the airway using a dental spatula.  I then take the stummel to the sink, and using warm water, I rinse the stummel again and use dish soap and warm water with the shank brushes to continue cleaning the airway.  This picture shows the conclusion of the carnage!After completing the cleaning, I inspect the external surface and am glad to find no large fills or holes revealed after the cleaning.  I like the potential of this briar to come out well.  But I do detect one more problem to add to the list. Looking closely at the distinctive vertical grain pattern running upward from the heel just to the right of the shank, I detect a crack.  At first, I think that it may simply be a ‘gap’ between the grain lines, but the more I look at it, I believe it’s a crack that needs to be addressed or it will possibly grow along the grain line. I decide to address this problem straight away.  I first mark the terminus points on each side of the crack.  Using a sharp dental probe tool, I press an indentation at each of these points.  I need a magnifying glass to correctly identify the ends of the cracks.  I press these indentations at the end points for two reasons.  First, I can better see where I need to drill counter-creep holes with the Dremel, but also the probe holes create a guide hole or a starter to guide the Dremel’s drill bit which I’m applying freehand!  The first two pictures are of the lower guide hole and then the next two, the upper guide hole. Next, I mount a 1mm drill bit in the Dremel and with a steadier hand than usual, I drill both counter-creep holes freehand. The guide holes help a good bit.  The picture shows the holes drilled at each end.  Not bad!I use a thin CA glue to run along the crack to shore it up as well as in the counter-creep holes.  I use thin CA glue to encourage seepage into the crack to provide a better seizing of the crack.  I then sprinkle briar dust over the holes and the crack to encourage blending.Not long after, the crack patch has set up enough for me to continue my work on the stummel.  I turn my attention to the battered rim.  There is no question that it will be visiting the topping board.  I take another closeup of the fore section of the rim to show its raw, battered condition.  The second picture shows the deterioration of the front side progressed to the point it appears to be sloped forward.  The normal disposition of the plane of the rim on the Canadian will be close to parallel to the shank.  I’ll need to remove some of the rim to bring proper orientation back to the rim. I cover the chopping board with 240 grade paper, and I start rotating the inverted stummel over the paper.  I intentionally lean to the rear to help move the rim line toward level.  The next pictures show the progression of topping. At this point I’m satisfied with the progression.  The rim has evened out and even though there are residual chips on the front side of the rim, I believe the small ones can be dispatched with a slight beveling.  The larger ones remaining will need more attention.I switch to 600 grade paper on the chopping board and give the stummel a few more rotations to smooth the surface more.The smaller skinned-up area on the right should disappear with some gentle bevel sanding.  I’ll first apply some briar dust putty to the larger remaining chips on the left, and then sand these areas out.  One larger chip remains on the aft of the rim which will also receive a fill of briar dust putty.  It should work well.I use a plastic disc to serve as my mixing pallet and I also put down some strips of scotch tape to help with the cleanup.  I mix some briar dust with regular CA glue.  I first put a small mound of briar dust on the pallet and then add a small puddle of CA glue next to it.  I gradually draw the briar dust into the CA glue until it thickens enough to trowel to the chipped areas using a toothpick.  The pictures show the progress. With the patches on the rim curing, I turn to the La Strada Scenario’s short Canadian stem.  When the stem came out of the Before & After Deoxidizer soak, I noted that I could still detect deep oxidation.  I need to address this, but first I will work on the tooth compression on the bit.  They aren’t severe.  First, I use a Bic lighter and paint the bit with the flame to heat the vulcanite.  When heated, the physics of the rubber expands with the heating and hopefully will lessen the severity of the compressions.  This works well, but I still need to sand.  I sand using 240 grade paper to work on the remaining tooth compressions and the residual oxidation.  I use a plastic disk I fabricated to sand against to avoid shouldering the stem facing.  I also use a flat needle file to sharpen the button definition.I widen the aperture on this picture to show the continued residual oxidation near the disk – more sanding needed.After using the file and 240 grade paper, I wet sand the stem using 600 grade paper then follow using 0000 steel wool. I like the progress.I’m on a roll with the stem.  Next, I wet sand using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 pads, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to further rejuvenate the vulcanite stem.  I love the newly polished vulcanite pop! The briar dust patches filling out the chips on the rim are fully cured.  Using a flat needle file, I first work to file the excess patch material on the topside of the rim.  I file the excess briar dust patch down until close to the rim surface. When each of the three main patches are filed down vertically, I switch to filing the sides of each patch down close to the briar surface. I then take the stummel back to the topping board and light turn a few revolutions on 240 grade paper and then 600 grade.  This brings the patches down flush with the rim.Using 240 grade paper again, I create a soft bevel on the external rim lip.  This both shapes the patches and cleans up the smaller nicks on the circumference of the rim’s edge. I also do the same on the internal edge of the rim.Finally, I go over both the external and internal bevels with 600 grade paper to smooth and blend.  I like what I see!  This phase of the rim repair is complete.Next, I address the crack repair patch.  Again, I use a flat needle file to file the excess material down to the briar surface then follow with 240 and 600 grade papers. While I have the sandpaper handy, the front of the bowl has some skins and pits.  I quickly dispatch these using 240 and 600 grade papers. I follow the rough sanding by utilizing sanding sponges before the micromesh regimen.  I use a coarse, medium, and then light grade sanding sponge and sand the entire surface.  I’m careful around the nomenclature on the shank.  I like using the sanding sponges to clean the surface of minor imperfections, but they are not invasive.Turning now to the micromesh pad regimen, I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. Wow!  I’m liking the way this grain is coming out. I’ve come to a juncture and decision point.  The grain has come out beautifully and I like the rich honey brown tone of the briar.  Yet, the patches on the rim and for the crack repair stand out and to me, distracting.  The pictures below show this and for this reason, I decide to apply a darker hue to mask the repair work. The patches will not disappear totally, but the contrast will be minimized.  I like using Fiebing’s Dark Brown for this purpose.  As an aniline – alcohol-based dye, I can lighten it by wiping the stained surface with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol. After I assemble all the components for staining on my worktable, I warm the stummel using a hot air gun to expand the briar which enhances the reception of the dye pigment.  After the stummel is warm, I use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply the dye.  I apply the dye in swatches and then flame the aniline dye with a lit candle.  The alcohol combusts and sets the pigment in the grain.  After I methodically apply dye and flame the entire stummel, I repeat the process again assuring thorough coverage.  I set the stummel aside to rest through the night to allow the new dye to settle in.  And for me, I turn out the lights and call it a day. The next morning, the flamed stummel has had enough time to rest the new dye.  To ‘unwrap’ the stummel removing the crust, I mount a felt buffing wheel on to the Dremel, set it at the slowest possible speed and begin the methodical process of both removing the crust as well as polishing the briar with Tripoli compound. I stop to take a picture during the process to show the emerging briar grain after the staining process.  It’s amazing as I uncover the briar.  I’m pleased with the hue that I’m seeing. Not pictured above is that I changed the felt wheel to a cotton cloth buffing wheel, increased the speed of the Dremel to about 40% full power and when over the entire surface again with Tripoli compound.  Unlike with the felt wheel, with the cotton wheel I can reach into the crook of the shank and bowl to apply compound removing the crust.  I also fine tune the polishing using the cloth wheel – it brings out and sharpens the grain a step more.

Below, after completing the use of Tripoli compound, I wet a cotton pad with alcohol and I very lightly wipe the stummel.  This helps to blend the newly applied stain as well as lighten the finish a bit.Next, I rejoin the stem and stummel (after I took this picture!) and mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, maintaining the same 40% power setting and I apply Blue Diamond compound to both stem and stummel.  After completing this, I wipe the pipe down with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust before applying wax.Before applying wax, to provide the chamber with a starter layer to encourage the develop of a protective cake, I mix Bulgarian natural yogurt and activated charcoal to form a mixture which I apply to the chamber walls.  After I stick a pipe cleaner through the stem and the draft hole, to guard the airway from being blocked, I mix the yogurt and charcoal dust to a point where the mixture does not drip off the pipe nail tool as I hold a dollop of the mixture in the air.  I then apply and spread the mixture over the chamber evenly and fully.  Satisfied with the progress, I then put the mixture aside for it to set-up after a few hours. I then mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the Canadian.  To finish the restoration, after applying the wax I give the pipe a hearty hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine even more.

Before completing the restoration, I received an email back from Jim regarding his request that I ‘open’ the airway from the factory drilling to a .4mm width.  I did some reading and found a long enough .4mm drill bit to do the job.  Yet, while it would not be a difficult thing to open the straight Canadian airway, my concern was that I really could not change the airway construction of the small, Canadian stem.  I didn’t know whether this continued compression point of the air passage would defeat the physics advantage of opening the airway.  I left it to Jim to decide and what he decided to do was to first test the airway’s factory diameter and then open the airway himself to compare smoking experiences.  This sounded good to me and I hope to hear from Jim the results of this comparison.

What can I say?  Rex’s La Strada Scenario Canadian has been reborn and ready to begin a new lifetime!  The pipe required some attention, but I’m pleased with the masking of the patches on the rim and for the crack repair.  The grain is exceptional on this Italian La Strada.  The bowl showcases both flame and vertical grains with some bird’s eye on the heel.  The longer Canadian shank is also a great plus – a cooler smoking experience.  Jim saw the potential of this Canadian in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and since he commissioned it and waited patiently for me to restore it, he has the first opportunity to purchase the La Strada Canadian from The Pipe Steward Store which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  I thank Dan Hartzler for donating this pipe for this purpose, and I thank you for joining me!

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West Meets East in India to Restore a Grandson’s Treasure – an 1846 BBB


Blog by Dal Stanton

This story is about the restoration of perhaps, one of the oldest BBBs in the world today – but it’s much, much more.  Every pipe man and woman has discovered this and within that even smaller subgroup of the pipe community, vintage pipe restorers, the experience is perhaps even more heightened.  The love of pipes – their former stewards, provenances, shapes, grains, stems and especially their restorations, creates a unique bond and fellowship among those who have experienced the joy of seeing one’s hands bring about a pipe’s restoration.  Whether a high-end Dunhill or a common ‘No-Namer’, to bring a crippled pipe back to life brings a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction to those whose skill, hands and purposeful patience have wrought.

So much in our world today divides people of race, religion, politics, and station of life, but my amazement is kindled by how often these barriers are overcome within this community of pipe lovers and restorers.  With the internet in full bloom, people in this world-wide community have come together in amazing ways.  This happened when Steve Laug (aka: rebornpipes, Vancouver, Canada), Jeff Laug (Steve’s brother – pipe procurer and cleaner, Idaho, USA) and I, (aka: ThePipeSteward, Sofia, Bulgaria) converged in Pune, India, at the invitation of Paresh Deshpande (aka: rebornpipes contributor and the grandson who has become the steward of a treasure trove of pipes left to him by his grandfather).

I began this write-up with a full and thankful heart on the flight from Pune (Poo’-ne) to New Delhi on my return trip to Sofia.  Steve and Jeff were able to stay a few extra days and so I said goodbye to them at the flat where our fellowship took shape several days earlier.  I also said goodbye to Paresh’s daughters, Mudra (17) and Pavni (11), whose equally opposite personalities and dispositions were a wonderful composite reflection of their parents’ care and love.  Mudra impressed us with her elegant sophistication and Pavni, well, she earned the nickname of ‘Bollywood’ – she entertained us and brought much laughter.

Paresh and Abha took me to the airport and I found myself surprisingly reflective and quiet as Paresh navigated the choked Pune streets heading to the airport – cars, scooters and Tuk Tuks (motorized rickshaw taxis) dodged here and there like swallows on wheels in a chaotic purposeful swarm.  Only the day before I was helmeted on the back of Paresh’s classic 1980 ROYAL ENFIELD 535 CC motorcycle and videoed with my iPhone while Paresh became one with the swarm!  Oh my….  As I sat in the back seat of the car on the way to the airport, Paresh asked me why I wasn’t smiling – that I was serious.  It was true that navigating through the Pune Airport’s security was on my mind and wondering if they would remove my prized Savinelli pipe lighter, an unbelievable gift from my landlady, Rozie, in Sofia, left behind by her now departed husband.  My concerns about the lighter fortunately, were proven to be unfounded, but I found myself reflecting on the past week under the watchful care and rich hospitality of Paresh and Abha.  How do I describe it?  How do I tell this story to capture not only the unbelievable pipe our special cohort restored together, but the bond that we discovered along the way?  I think I can safely speak for Steve and Jeff in saying that the hospitality we experienced from our Indian hosts was none like we had experienced before.  For the most part, we started as acquaintances but through the week experienced a deeper bond that is more reminiscent of a family.  Steve and I have known each other for some time because of our work with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited (Servants Anonymous Foundation and Daughters of Bulgaria), but through the internet was how our pipe lore fellowship was formed and based upon this, Paresh invited us to come to Pune coinciding with Steve’s trip to nearby Nepal in concert with his work.  When I heard of this ‘Fellowship of the Pipe’ developing, I couldn’t bear to be left out, especially after hearing that Steve’s brother, Jeff, whom I had never met, was also coming.  Steve had traveled to this part of the world several times.  I had traveled to Cambodia previously, but never to India.  Jeff, also, was experiencing his first trip to this area of the world.  So, from Vancouver (via Nepal), from Sofia and from Idaho Falls, the ‘West’ converged in the ‘East’ in India, for the first convocation of this Pipe Fellowship.

This ‘Fellowship’ also included others that were unable to respond to Paresh’s invitations to come.  Several months ago, Paresh formed a FaceBook Messenger group of pipe restorers that included the four of us but also Mark Domingues (aka: LoneStarBriarWorks Texas, USA) and Victor Naddeo (aka: Naddeo Pipes, Belo Horizonte, Brazil). This group, as you might guess, was the online ‘Pipe Man Cave’ where pipes, nomenclatures, techniques were discussed, and questions entertained – of course, Steve is recognized as the undisputed pipe sage and guru of this diverse and eclectic group of pipe men.  The weeks before the convocation in Pune, this group was actively involved in shaping the convocation.  It was in the FaceBook group that Paresh proposed what became the anchor activity of our time in Pune – the restoration of one of the oldest and most precious of Paresh’s trove of pipes he inherited from his grandfather, whose collection could possibly rival any personal collection in the world.  Steve and Paresh told the story of Paresh’s grandfather in Steve’s earlier restorations of some of these pipes on rebornpipes (see: Paresh’s Grandfather’s Pipe #7 – Charatan’s Make De Luxe 140 Billiard).  Paresh had so many of his grandfather’s pipes, that Steve (as he has done with many of us!) began to encourage (coerce 😊) Paresh to start dabbling in restoration.  Paresh didn’t dabble long and has become an excellent restorer and contributor to rebornpipes.  As Jeff does for Steve, Abha cleans many of the pipes that Paresh restores.

One of the highlights of our time in Pune was going through Paresh’s entire collection of pipes – from his grandfather as well as his own additions.  During the hot(!) part of the Indian day, Paresh unwrapped each pipe to show and to pass around.  To hold and examine these pipes was a treat.  If this were not enough, we (Dal, Steve and Paresh – Jeff’s not a smoker just a collector and journeyman cleaner!) also smoked 3 very special pipes from Paresh’s grandfather that Paresh had restored – classic pipes with albatross bone shank extensions and horn stems.  At the beginning of the convocation, we decided we would smoke these pipes together in celebration of the completion of our communal restoration project.  On the Fellowship Facebook group, Paresh proposed restoring one of his grandfather’s pipes together.  His idea was that we would do the restoration as a group, but that we would each share that part of the restoration that focused on strengths of each: Jeff and Abha, (cleaning), Pavni (sanding the chamber), Steve (main restoration work), Dal (final buffing and polishing with the Dremel), and Paresh would be the project manager!  Paresh also appointed me as the scribe – the one who would do the write-up and take pictures of the restoration because of my ability to spin a good tale!  After the 1846 BBB was chosen to be our restoration project, this was the discussion on the Fellowship FB Group that revealed Paresh’s deeper hope of what would result from the group restoration:

Paresh: Steve Sir, what say about working this pipe…

Mark: You can handle it Paresh!  It’s no different than a Dr. Grabow!

Paresh: More than the value of the pipe, it’s worth its weight in gold working together with Steve Sir and Dal Sir on this oldest heirloom piece that I desire.  And not to mention Jeff Sir and Abha doing the initial cleaning…lol

Steve: Sounds like an interesting proposal Paresh… I am game.  But I also know that you can handle it

Paresh: Thank you Sir. I appreciate your confidence in my abilities. But just think, you shall be meeting up with Mudra and Pavni, my daughters. They would see all of us working together on this very very old pipe. We shall be handing over these memories to them. Kids will always associate this pipe as THE ONE which belonged to their Great Grandfather and was worked on by their father and his friends from across the oceans…. wow wouldn’t that be great.

Paresh:  So that’s decided. 1846 made BBB project postponed to 03 May 19 and now back to square one! Which pipe should I work next? Fresh suggestions requested please.

When I discovered I was to be the writer of this grand project before coming to Pune, Paresh sent pictures of the 1846 BBB.  Here are the pictures of the BBB Bent Billiard with its classic amber stem. The nomenclature is stamped on the left flank of the shank with the classic stacked BBB ensconced in the diamond.  The diamond is centered above ‘OWN MAKE’.  The silver ferule repeats the BBB diamond stamp over hallmarks providing information on the provenance which will be unpacked below.With a pipe dated so early, it qualifies as one of the first pipes produced by BBB.  I look to Pipedia’s article on BBB to set the stage for understanding the origins:

BBB

The initials once stood for Blumfeld’s Best Briars after Louis Blumfeld, who took over the management of the Adolph Frankau Company in 1856. After his death, the BBB gradually became known as Britain’s Best Briars. Soon to be the oldest English trademark in current use and the first pipe ever to have a registered trademark. “Britain’s Best Briars”, often called BBB, is one of the oldest brands still in production and has always been the most popular foreign brand in Denmark. Earlier pipes included a metal rondel with a diamond shape including BBB embedded in the stem top, and later post-Cadogan went to a stamped-on logo, similar to the GBD pipes.

Dating and History:

I have been doing some digging into BBB pipes for some we have for VPC auctions and I found an article online in French. Here is a Babelfish translation of a history of BBB from http://www.fumeursdepipe.net/artbbb.htm

Genesis and history of the company. Adolph Frankau & Co Ltd In 1847, Adolph Frankau arrived in London and quickly understood opportunities that the market of tobacco presented, in full expansion. He created the company “Adolph Frankau & Co” and became an importer of meerschaum pipes and supplies in connection with the tobacco. It takes under its wing young a 14 year old boy, Louis Blumfeld. The business thrives quickly until the death of Adolph Frankau in 1856. His widow prepares to sell the company.

The dating we’ve placed on the BBB is 1846.  The formation of the Adolph Fankau & Co. Ltd is said to be 1847 in London from the article above.  The seemingly contradictory information creates part of the mystery uncovered in the research – the origins of BBB and a pipe apparently dated before it began!  Fortunately for me, the Pipe Man Facebook Group tackled the research for me.  With only slight editing, here is the ‘research wing’ dialog in toto.  I repeat the dialog because it captures the thrill of discovery of a treasure and the process leading to it:

Paresh: From my grandfather’s collection…. unable to decide my next project. Please suggest…… It’s nice to be spoilt for choice.

 

 

Jeff

 

Steve: Here’s my vote… marked with the check .

 

 

Paresh: BBB it is then….. thank you.

 Paresh:  The BBC….. just for the record you all have chosen the dirtiest one for me to work on. Other three pipes….. Abha, my wife, had done the initial cleaning……Lol. It’s BBB and not BBC….. you have chosen wisely as in Indiana Jones and the Last crusade!!!!

Victor:  Oh man! I love BBB’s, it’s my favorite brand ever!

 

Paresh: Where have you been my friend?

Victor:  This pipe looks to me like Pamela Anderson ….[edited by scribe 😊]…. with a suitcase full of dollars and a bottle of champagne.  I’ve been working hard this days my friend, and my head was a little bit away from the pipes

Paresh:  And me….. [edited by scribe]…. it happens….

Victor:  Hahahaha I’ve 12 BBB’s in my collection

Paresh:  On this selection, there was a unanimous vote from all parts of the world…….and the bigwigs wonder how to bring the world together……………….. It’s this simple.

Victor:  i just LOVE all of them.

Paresh:  All vintage?

Victor:  yeah!

Paresh:  I need to check how many I have. Never bought one BBB, except for one commissioned from ThePipeSteward…..  All my BBB are my grandfather’s.

MAR 15, 2019, 2:02 AM

Steve: Victor and I share a love of BBB pipes…one of my favourite brands

Paresh:  I haven’t been able to identify my favourite brand!! My present rotation includes Farida’ s dad’s Dunhill, GBD International, BIJOU, Hilson Viva and two Somersets.

MAR 15, 2019, 5:53 PM

Paresh:  Found this stamp on 1858 BBB Meer….. exact same stamp on my BBB but letter D. This makes it from 1852. Did they make Briar pipes then?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need help in dating this pipe based on hallmarks….

MAR 15, 2019, 7:08 PM

Victor:  I need a close picture of the hallmarks and I could say precisely the year

Paresh:  I shall try. But as I said earlier, the only difference between the meer stampings above and mine is letter capital D…

Victor:  Oh, I thought you said the meer had the letter D – ok! But i must say the frame around the letter influences too

Paresh:  Hallmark stampings are slightly worn out.  Understood. I wish I had an iPhone…..

Steve:  Anchor is Birmingham, lion is the mark for 925 silver,

Victor:  Yes, exactly. And L&B the silversmith.  If your pipe has the exactly same square frame around the D as this meerschaum, You have a 1852 pipe in your hands.  And i must say this is probably the oldest briar pipe i ever seen.

 Paresh:  Does this help?

Victor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Could L-B stand for Louis Blumfield?

Victor: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or this 

Paresh:  More like the upper one but more decorative but less than the second…..

Victor:  Maybe like the third one?This is the oldest briar pipe i ever had Its 1873 Samuel McLardy

Paresh:  Neither the third. Look for the J letter in 1858 and in same chart look for D. More or less same. 80% match….

Victor:  I must admit I’m little envious about you BBB hahaha.  What a lucky guy you are!  Hahahaha

Paresh:  Mclardy letter not clear…..

Victor:  The first one is the D from the same chart of this J

Paresh:  The different is “moustache” like shape at the junction……..on my pipe.   Where the vertical line of D meets the horizontal line towards the right….

Victor:  Looking close to your picture. I don’t think it’s a D

Paresh:  Could you please enlarge the last pic that I sent you, Victor?

Victor: 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it’s an “r”

Paresh:  Wow…..that’s….. Let me check again.

Victor:  And if is this one it’s a 1846 pipe

Paresh:  You may be right Victor, it could be an ‘r’What do you think? Enlarge the picture please.

 Steve:  I think it is an r as well

Paresh:  Steve Sir, what does the letter appear to you?

 

Mark:  Lower case R

 

 

Steve:  Lower case r

Victor:  Now I’m sure.  It’s an 1846 pipe.  Congratulation

Mark:  So what year is that?

Victor: !!

Mark:  No way!

Victor:  Yes it is sir!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark:  When did they start?!?

Victor:  Actually its a lower case x – Hahahhaa

Mark:   BBB?

Paresh:  Okay. That settles it. So let me check again if it’s a repair band…… hearts thumping like nuts…

Victor:  BBB it’s one of the oldest factories in England – Wait, Pipedia says it was founded in 1847 But they could be wrong.  I’ve seen this kind of mistake before in pipedia

Steve:  Remember silver hallmarks date the silver…

Mark:  Amber stem?

Paresh:  NO REPAIR BAND…… summary of all discussions?

Agreed, hallmarks date silver. But the other stampings on the silver, like BBB and L- B?

Mark:  Louis Blumfield? Amber stem, it must be old!

Paresh:  As asked before, could LB stand for Louis Blumfield?

Mark:  Maybe that’s one of the first after Frankau’s death in 1846?  Sorry, 1856

Paresh:  So am I holding a BBB which dates back to 1846? Remember, Louis Blumfeld joined him much earlier than 1856 before his demise.

Victor:  Man

Steve:  Man…

Victor:  This is probably one of the first Frankau era pipes ever made!

Paresh:  Concrete summary requested please, before I hit the Bar!!!

Victor:  Maybe the silver was made in the end of the ear of 1846, few months before the factory made the pipe.

Year* Concrete summary?

Steve:  That was my thinking Victor

Victor:  You’re a [edited by scribe 😊] lucky bastard! Vavavavava Hahahahaha*

Paresh:  Yes!!! Drinks are on me gentlemen….

Victor:  Congratulations.  Probably the oldest BBB in the whole world.

Steve:  Congrats

Paresh:  Good that I sought your advice on selection of the pipe to work on. My what a thrilling experience this was. Thanks again gents. Dal Stanton has missed this frenzy…

Paresh:  Victor, you started this……

Steve Sir, would you like to work this pipe with me when you reach? This will be an epic project together or you want me to proceed ahead? It will be a significant project.

Victor:  W8, Steve is going to India? (You live in India, right?)

Paresh:  Yes Sir. Even Dal Stanton will be with us.

Victor:  I wanna go too! Hahahaha

Paresh:  Really?

Victor:  I’m just kidding, I can’t afford a trip like this

Paresh:  Okay. U will not be spending a dime here.

Steve Sir, what say about working this pipe…?

Mark:  You can handle it Paresh!

It’s no different than a Dr. Grabow!

Paresh:  More than the value of the pipe, it’s worth its weight in gold working together with Steve Sir and Dal Sir on this oldest heirloom piece that I desire.  And not to mention Jeff Sir and Abha doing the initial cleaning…lol

Steve:  Sounds like an interesting proposal Paresh… I am game.  But I also know that you can handle it

I did miss the frenzy of the discovery of the dating of this BBB treasure Paresh inherited from his grandfather, but I experienced the thrill of having a part in its restoration – and what a restoration it was!  One of the fun parts and challenges was to use only the tools available to Paresh in India.  Each restorer is used to his own tools and techniques.  The restoration of the 1846 also became a time of sharing and seeing how each of us approached the different phases of the restoration.

The day we determined would be THE day for THE restoration arrived.  We three are in the flat that Paresh had provided for us during our stay.  On this day set for THE restoration, we were up early before Paresh arrived from his home.  After our tea and coffee, we were ready to go and decided to start on the cleaning phase to get a jump on things. Here we go!  Jeff and Steve set up camp to begin the cleaning phase laying out the tools of the trade – no Savinelli Fitsall Tool this time around! The BBB had very thick cake and lava flow over the rim – very characteristic of Paresh’s grandfather’s other pipes where the practice seemed to be smoke, never clean and toss in the box when they were unsmokable and buy another! Steve started with reaming the chamber.  Starting with the reaming blade heads he reams with the smallest blade and then works to the next larger. He uses two of the four blades available and then switches to the long pen knives available in Paresh’s arsenal and continues clearing the thick cake. After scraping the chamber walls with the pen knives, he follows by using ‘230’ grade paper (I can’t remember what the grading was in India – it could have been 220 to 240, mid-range) to clean the walls of the carbon further and wipes the chamber with paper towel. After wiping, Steve evaluates the condition of the chamber and the 173-year-old chamber is in good shape from what we can see at this point.Switching now to the rim, Steve carefully employs the sanding paper over the rim to begin removing the thick lava flow. Continuing on the rim, next he uses a flat blade and pen knife and continues carefully scraping the rim. Using a spatula tool, he switches attention to the mortise and scrapes out the old oils and grime buildup. With the lava excavated from the rim, Steve identifies what looks like a hairline crack running over the rim.The crack isn’t easy to see.  It runs across the rim and over and down the stummel a bit.Steve continues smoothing the rim using 230 grade paper in order to get a better look at the rim’s condition.The crack is now more clearly seen. We paused when Paresh and Pavni arrived and I got more practice perfecting my selfie technique.  Pavni enjoys helping her father in his restoration adventures.  Her specialty in the restoration process, which has become a unique trademark in Paresh’s restorations, is sanding the chambers to a smooth perfection.As the project manager, Paresh receives an update on the progress on the 1846 BBB which includes the news about discovering of the crack after the rim cleaning.After conferring with the master restorer, the decision is made to take the 1846 to the topping board.  In this case, a piece of 230 paper on the flat, glass table serves well as Paresh begins the topping process.  The debate using the topping board is always weighing the loss of briar verses the needed corrections in the restoration process.  The rim needs refreshing and redefinition, and the hope is that some topping will improve the situation with the crack. The first revolutions show the progress and revealing more distinctly the rim crack. After another few revolutions on the topping board, it is time for a conference and Steve again takes the stummel to the topping board. Paresh harvests the briar dust off the sanding paper, which appears to be a 150 grade from this view.  Under Pavni’s watchful eye, Steve takes the stummel a few more rotations and we arrive at a satisfactory point. From the picture above, the inner rim edge is rough and uneven.  There is also a dark scorched ring remaining around the inner perimeter. Paresh goes to work cleaning the inner rim edge with a roll of sanding paper.  We’re hoping that the sanding will take care of the minor hairline crack. Across the table, Jeff takes a close look at the amber stem with the Henry Hughs Son LTD London magnifying glass.  The night before we were all squinting looking at the nomenclatures of many pipes and this morning Paresh remembered to bring this classic lens!  Looking at the 1846 BBB through this antique lens seemed only right! Jeff goes to work on cleaning the delicate bone tenon but waits on the airway of the amber stem.  We don’t want to use alcohol on the amber which could potentially damage it causing it to shatter or craze – making spider web-like cracking.  During the week, Paresh had a young man on call to respond to all our needs.  We needed a natural acidic cleaner for the amber stem and lemon juice is a good choice for the job.  Paresh made a call to the young man to bring us lemons.…  Waiting for the lemons, Jeff gave Murphy’s a try on the bone tenon and airway with some results. On the other side of the table, Steve isn’t satisfied with the rim and adds a few more turns on the topping board and follows with a light sanding touch on the external rim edge to soften the rim edge and clean remaining nicks. The threads of the bone tenon have years of debris compacted and Jeff starts with a bristled brush to help clean and then passes the stem across the table and Paresh continues the delicate thread cleaning probing and scraping with the flat blade. With Paresh working on the tenon, Steve passes the stummel to Jeff who starts his cleaning regimen using Murphy’s Soap and a paper towel.  The towel shows the first layer of grime coming off.  He also gently scrapes the shank shaft with a blade where the band was mounted removing grime softened by the Murphy’s Soap. Paresh hands the stem off to Steve who continues working on the bone tenon threads using a stationary inverted wire brush.  This does the job and the stem goes back to Jeff for his inspection. Jeff continues cleaning the BBB stummel with more Murphy’s Soap and gently scrapes the lava buildup on the stummel surface just over the rim. Next, Jeff furthers the cleaning by taking the stummel in the kitchen and giving the stummel a cleaning using warm water and liquid dish soap, which in India came in a paste form, and scrubbing with a bristled toothbrush.  I was very interested in seeing Jeff’s cleaning process.  He has developed an interesting system of which even Steve was not fully aware! With Jeff’s cleaning, he’s not concerned to allow water in the internals but washes the internals as well using a shank brush to clean – rinsing with warm water – external surface and internals. With the stummel clean, Steve takes the stummel to work on the primary restoration issues.  Using a 1500 grade micromesh pad, Steve dry sands the upper part of the stummel around the rim and the rim surface to work on some rough areas and to clean the area of the crack identified earlier.  The challenge is to preserve the 1800s patina while applying some abrasives to the surface.  Steve employs the micromesh for this reason. While Steve is working on the stummel, our young helper man arrives with the lemons needed for Jeff to continue his internal cleaning of the amber stem!Steve’s fine sanding with the micromesh pad on the rim brings into focus two cracks, the original and a lesser one – in the picture below at the 4 o’clock and 6:30 o’clock positions. To address these issues, Steve decides to drill a counter-creep hole with the Dremel on the original lone crack which creeps down the stummel and then apply CA glue shoring it up.  To begin, to create a hole to guide the drilling, using the magnifying glass, Steve presses the corner of the flat blade into the briar where the crack terminates creating the guide hole for the Dremel drill bit. With the area cleaned, the crack is clearly seen now on the external side as well as internally looking in the chamber. After a very short discussion with Paresh, it’s decided that Steve will do the honors of drilling the counter-creep hole.  Mounting a 1 or 2mm (not sure which now!) drill bit in the Dremel, with nerves of steel preparing to drill on the 1846 BBB, Steve does the job.  This part of the restoration is critical – drilling the hole keeps the crack from advancing as the bowl heats and cools – expands and retracts.  During the drilling, one does not want to drill too far punching through into the chamber! Next, after Steve applies CA glue over the crack and count-creep hole, Paresh is ready to apply briar dust over the wet repair area to enhance the blending on the vintage briar surface. With the main crack glued and briar dust applied, the secondary crack receives a spot drop of the thin CA glue as well to create a strengthened reinforcement. After the CA glue cures, Steve strategically files and sands the repair areas removing the excess glue and bringing the patches flush with the briar surface. To again freshen the rim after the crack repairs, Steve lightly tops the stummel and the results look good. Following the topping, again using the 1500 micromesh pad, Steve sands both repair areas on the stummel surface as well as topping the stummel with the micromesh pad. This smooths and blends the repair area well with little impact on the ancient briar’s patina. Now armed with a natural cleanser, lemon juice, Jeff continues the cleaning of the amber stem’s airway. You get a better idea now why this write up seems a bit like watching a ping pong tourny!  Paresh now continues the application of micromesh to the rim of the 1846. The results are great for Jeff’s stem cleaning utilizing the lemon juice.  The pipe cleaner reveals the buildup in the airway. Steve continues to work on the rim and repair areas with micromesh pads 1800 and 2400. With a sense of having worked the areas enough with the micromesh pads, Steve applies Before & After Restoration Balm to the rim and the crack area where he had been applying the micromesh pads to see how the briar will snap to.  The result is phenomenal as the following pictures show. This marks the completion of micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 on parts of the stummel and rim.  The cracks are still visible but have blended well in the darkening briar hues. Paresh follows by dry sanding with 3200 grade micromesh on the stummel. Jeff declares that the stem internals are now clean.  After thinning a thick pipe cleaner with the pen knife, Paresh runs the pipe cleaner through the stem and bone tenon for one final pass. The amber stem bit has experienced chipping and this is next up for repair.  Steve begins the repair by spot dropping clear CA glue to fill the divot.  After applying, he puts the stem aside for the CA glue to cure. The BBB silver band is next.  The band shows the normal coloring as the silver oxidizes over time.  Paresh tackles this project by using a dry powdered silver cleaner that he has available in India.  I had never seen anything like it before and watched with interest as Paresh pinched the powder and applied it to the band and rubbed the powder in the metal. The results were stellar as the pictures show. While Paresh worked on cleaning the band, Steve pressed forward applying the next set of micromesh pads to the stummel and rim of the 1846 BBB.  Using pads 3600 to 4000 he dry sanded. The emergence of the beauty of this aged patina was amazing to watch as Steve teased it out by dry sanding with pads 6000 to 12000. With the micromesh phase completed, Steve attaches the newly shined BBB silver band with its identifying hallmarks, using a bit of CA glue.  After applying a small line about midway up the shank underneath where the band will rest, Steve positions and slides the band over the shank until it tightened. All I could say was, ‘Wow!’.  The vintage band adds that touch of class that the 1846 BBB already had in spades!Next, we’re all anticipating the results of applying Before & After Restoration Balm to the entire bowl.  The Balm does a great job coaxing out the deeper hues of the briar.  Often, the changes are subtle, but distinctive.  This picture shows the stummel before application.Steve applies the Balm by putting some on his finger and thoroughly working it into the briar surface.  I have often described the texture as thinner, or cream-like when first applied, then thickens into a wax-like texture as it is rubbed in.  After allowing the Balm to set a while, Steve buffs it off with a cloth to reveal the great results!  The vertical grain on this stummel is beautiful with a smattering of bird’s eye grain on the heal. It’s true, we may have done this a bit out of order, but Jeff and Paresh team tag working on cleaning the internals of the mortise.  Cotton buds and pipe cleaners are used, after dipping in alcohol.  Paresh excavates some gunk with a small scoop tool which was part of his arsenal. Meanwhile, after the first round of CA glue cures (it didn’t take long), Steve continues to work on the bit of the amber stem.  He uses a file on the button and also files out a chip on the side of the stem, next to the button. He applies another round of CA glue to chipped area on the side as well as to the previous divot to continue building up the surface.  The pictures show the progress. Jeff declares, ‘Clean!’ after a plethora of cotton buds and pipe cleaners bear witness to the tars and oil he removed from the stummel internals.The 1846 BBB was the main show of the day’s restorations, but several other projects were going on as well.  Here, Steve and Paresh confer and Pavni works on doing what she does best – patiently sanding and smoothing another stummel – this one a Meerschaum! Steve completes filing the stem repairs and sands down the patches so that they are invisible.With the stummel cleaned, I finally get the nod from the project manager to put down my iPhone (actually, Paresh takes over the picture taking) and pull out the Dremel and to begin the fine polishing phase.  I use White Diamond compound with a cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted with the speed set at about 40% of full power and apply the compound.While I disappear into the ‘zone’, Paresh takes a picture. While I’m in the zone, Paresh captures the progress Steve is making on the amber stem.  The CA glue patches have been fully sanded out and are invisible.  Steve did a great job smoothing, blending and filling the chipped area on the side of the stem.  He had to apply several coats of CA to build out the surface so that it again blended naturally.Zone….The amber stem is then treated to the full regimen of micromesh pads, dry sanding from 1500 to 12000. Zone…. After completing application of the compound, I mount another cotton cloth wheel maintaining the same speed and apply carnauba wax to the stummel.  I’m please the way the grain is popping!Then, to add the finishing touches, I apply White Diamond compound to the amber stem – appreciating the work that Steve did. After the White Diamond, I decided not to apply carnauba to the stem – it was already glistening and the pure, raw amber was more than ample to present this classic pipe.After I completed applying the compound to the stem, I rejoined stem and stummel and passed the 1846 to Paresh who had the privilege of doing the final handbuffing to raise the shine and complete the restoration of the 1846 BBB.  Woohoo! As we had planned, in celebration of the completion of the restoration together we smoked 3 unbelievable vintage pipes with albatross shank extensions and horn stems – all from the 1800s.  Oh my…. We each thoughtfully packed our bowls with our choice of blends and lit up and, well….  What a treat for Paresh to share the treasure trove of pipes left to him by his grandfather.  Jeff did the honor of commemorating this event with pictures. To further commemorate this amazing experience, we took a portrait of everyone who had taken part in the restoration of the 1846 BBB – notice Abha will have the first use of this grand old BBB! Mudra did the honor of taking the picture.There are not enough words to describe all that we experienced together while in India with Paresh’s family.  Steve, Jeff and I were treated literally like royalty!  We were taken to many different places to see the sites and to enjoy different cuisines, even pizza!  We all stored up memories which we’ll value all our days.Before heading to the airport, I took one more picture of Paresh and his family, Abha, Mudra and Pavni.  We arrived in India as acquaintances and we parted as family. And now the story has been told. West met the East in India for the restoration of the star of this story, the beyond classic 1846 BBB Own Make – a treasure from a grandfather to his grandson.  Thanks for joining us!

Resurrecting a Badly Damaged BBB ** Billiard


Blog by Victor C. Naddeo

I have been following the Pipe Club of Brasil Group on Facebook for quite a while now and have enjoyed the posted that Victor Naddeo has made about his restoration work. He is the administrator of the Facebook Group and we have chatted back and forth. When he posted this restoration I was intrigued by his solution to the crack in the bowl. He sent me photos on Messenger and we talked about the repair and BBB pipes in general. Seems we are both devotees to BBB pipes. I asked him to write up this repair on an old BBB ** that was in very rough shape before he started. He gladly did so. I am hoping this is just the first of many blogs on rebornpipes by Victor. Welcome to rebornpipes! Now in Victor’s own words.

A few years ago i had my first experience with restorations. As a young man just into adulthood, I had little money to invest in good pipes, and on one fateful day I met an old Bent Apple BBB ** for sale at an antique dealer. The pipe had a very rusty stem, there were beat marks all over the edge of the bowl, and a cake that looked more like the shell of a turtle. Already for some time I followed the blog rebornpipes and the work of Steve, and inspired by him I decided to get involved in this project. Two months later (and after many mistakes made) I finally managed to bring the old warrior back into action. On that day I gained two new passions: Restoration and old BBB’s. This restoration I will show you below began months ago when in an auction I bought this BBB billiard from a not very honest auctioneer who had not reported that the bowl was cracked. After some time waiting in a drawer, I finally decided to do something to bring another warrior to this army of BBBs, I hope you like it!

As you can see, looking from the side he was just an old billiard that needed a bit of polishing and cleaning. Good shapes, harmonious proportions, these are typical features of an old BBB and the main reasons that made me fall in love with the brand. What I did not expect was that his former owner somehow managed to create a large crack in the front of the bowl with about 3cm.The interior of the ducts was also completely clogged with a mass of tar residues derived from years of non-cleaning use. The cake was also quite thick, which led me to believe that the pipe had never been reamed, and if it was, that was many decades ago. To remove the cake, I had to use some chisels first, because as the passage was very narrow, it was impossible to insert my Senior Reamer into the chamber. It took me some time (and I also got some blisters on my hand). In the picture you can see the amount of carbonized material being removed from inside the bowl. After using the chisels and also the senior reamer, I also use a series of sandpaper inside the bowl, starting from grit 220 through 400, 600 and ending with 800, so that the inside of the bowl has a uniform surface.After a 30 minute bath in a solution of Oxyclean and water, I washed the inside of the stem using bristle pipe cleaners and running water. With a Dremel and felt disks, used blue polishing compound to polish the inner tube. I finished cleaning the inside of the stem using cotton pipe cleaner soaked in grain alcohol, removing what was left of residues and possible bacteria. The Oxyclean bath brings the oxidation back to the surface of the stem, which facilitates the polishing and removal of the oxidized material. Returning to the subject of the dreaded crack in the bowl. I decided to use a briar insert to cover it. To prevent cracking from increasing over time and to facilitate insertion of the insert, I used a cutting blade attached to the Dremel to cut the broken part and make a V shape instead of the crack. I used this same disk to also cut out a briar block, an insert of a similar size and I used sanding paper to leave it the perfect size to fit into space. To glue the insert, I used a mixture of briar dust, pigments and super glue. I settled the insert and held it for a few minutes until the glue dried. I waited a few hours to make sure that all the glue was dry and insert was firmly in place. I cut the burrs and used sandpaper to level the insert with the rest of the bowl. I also used brown and black dye to match the colors. I used 220, 400, 600, 800, 1000 and 1200 grit sanding sticks to remake the shapes of the bowl edge that were completely destroyed by the beat marks. As you can see, after reshaping the top of the bowl, you can already see the ancient times of glory of this pipe that once was the faithful companion of some gentlemen.

After dying, it was time for the first polish. I used two different compounds, red and brown, on denim disks and jeans disks, such as a high spin, to remove sediments and dirt that were stuck to the outside of the bowl and excess dyeing of the insert and the new bowl top . I used the same process on the stem to remove the oxidized material, but finalizing with flannel discs using the blue compound and white diamond to give a mirrored sheen.

 

Restoring a Cased Set of Pipes – 2 JBV and 1 M&T Bent Military Mount Billiards – Part 3


Blog by Steve Laug

I have already introduced this set of pipes for you in Part 1 of this blog. It is an old cased set of three pipes. Two of them were stamped JBV in an oval and one was stamped M&T Best Briar & Bands. The set was missing the third JBV pipe which I would bet was a smooth meerschaum bent billiard bowl and a second stem. The second stem in the case was for the M&T pipe and was smaller in diameter than the stem for the JBV pipes. As I mentioned in Part 1 the silver was dirty and the bowls caked on all of the pipes but there was something about them that really attracted me. Here is the link to the first part of the blog – the restoration of the most damaged of the JBV pipes: https://rebornpipes.com/2018/07/22/restoring-a-cased-set-of-pipes-2-jbv-and-1-mt-bent-military-mount-billiards-part-1/.

I am including a photo of the opened case showing the pipes and the stamping on the inside of the lid. It reads J.B. Vinche over “Au Nabab” over Bruxelles as far as I can interpret the blurred stamping on the felt lining. You can also see that the case has spots for what looks like a tamper tool and possibly a cigarette holder that are also missing.The next pipe that I chose to work on is the one on center of the case in the photo above. It is stamped M&T on the right side of the shank and Best Briar & Bands on the left side of the shank. The silver ferrule is also stamped BBB in three vertical boxes and the M&T is in an oval with pointed ends over three hallmarks that are hard to read. The pipe is in rough shape, but I am not sure I want to call it that after my experience with the first JBV splitting when I cleaned it. The finish on this one is also shot; there is silver polish on the shank ahead of the ferrule. The rim top is in the best condition of the three pipes and there are no deep nicks on the shank top or underside. There is a thick cake in the bowl and the rim top has some light dents. The inner edge is slightly out of round and there is a crack in the back of the bowl extending from the rim halfway down the bowl side. Like the rest of the pipes in this set the pipe is very dirty.   Throughout the process of  the restoration of the three pipes I have been hunting for information on the brand. I looked and found nothing searching for the M&T brand assuming that the pipe was also Belgian made. Today however I looked more broadly for M&T pipes and found one on Ebay that being sold. It tied the M&T stamping to a company called Müllenbach & Thewald.

Armed with this new information I looked on Pipedia and found a writeup on Müllenbach & Thewald (M&T). Here is the link: https://pipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCllenbach_%26_Thewald

I quote from that article in full. The company Müllenbach & Thewald was established in 1830 by Jakob Müllenbach (* 19/10/1800, † 29/03/1876) and Wilhelm Thewald (* 31/05/1807, † 11/06/1888) in Höhr (later named Höhr-Grenzhausen) in the Westerwald area. Having married two sisters, Maria Magdalena and Catharina Friesehahn, the brothers in law joined forces to start a business dedicated to manufacture and trade clay pipes and other pottery goods the Westerwald has been famous for throughout centuries.

After 1848 M&T, as the pipes were stamped later, began manufacturing pipes from different Germany homed woods and as early as 1860 the fabrication of briar pipes started. Previously completely turned by hand, machine fabrication was taken up in 1864. Shortly after the turn of the century a workshop in nearby Vallendar specialising in briar pipes was opened. M&T didn’t make it to the top ranks in German pipe industry but was acknowledgded as a well reputated brand even though.

On 05/01/1945 Höhr was vastly destroyed by a bombing raid including the buildings of the company’s administration and the pipe workshop among other things. But as soon as 01/05/1945 the re-construction began and on 15/01/1947 the pipe factory re-started it’s production. The new and bigger facilities in Höhr-Grenzhausen led to the closure of the older briar workshop in Vallendar. At the end of 1949 47 persons were busy in Müller & Thewald’s pipe production department, where still pipes from other woods than briar were made. As old pictures from the middle of the 1950’s show the share of women workers amounted to more than 35%.

Around 1970 M&T got into serious trouble. Especially M&T’s mainstay, the budget pipe segment, was swamped with pipes from Italy and France, who could produce cheap pipes even cheaper than German brands for they possessed the desired raw material briar in their own countries and in addition wages were substantially lower there. As well the bulk of M&T’s models was fairly old-fashioned and therefore even the better lines of the fabrication couldn’t compete with those of Oldenkott and VAUEN anymore on the most important German market.

So Müllenbach & Thewald ceased pipe production after more than 140 years in 1972. Norbert Gerharz, the last foreman of the workshop, continued as a pipemaker on his own. Müllenbach & Thewald company today is one of Germany’s biggest firms in clay mining.

Given the new information on the brand I was able to decipher the hallmarks on the silver band. The first mark on the left appears to be a crown, the middle one is 933 and the one on the right has a year letter – perhaps a J. From what I can find online using a German Hallmarks Website to try to read the hallmarks (http://www.925-1000.com/Fgerman_marks_a1884_7.html) and a Dutch Museum Catalogue (http://pipemuseum.nl/index.php?hm=4&dbm=1&dc1=1&datering_start=1875&datering_eind=1925&q=1&wmod=lijst&sortby=datering_kruis&startnum=240&id=23843) it appears the pipe was made between 1900-1920.

Now I knew what I was working on. Quite a journey from thinking was a BBB originally to recognizing that was wrong and thinking it was Belgian Made like the JB Vinche brand to finally identifying it as a German made pipe. It also helped to potentially identify a time period for the JBV pipes in the case as well. The make, shape and case all fit the time period.

I had reamed the bowl on the M&T pipe when I did the other pipes in this case. I wrote about it in Part 1 of this blog. I used a PipNet pipe reamer, starting with the first cutting head and working my way up to the second. I took the cake back to bare briar to check out the interior of the bowl. I followed up by cleaning it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife and finally sanding the bowl with 180 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I took the pipe out of the case and took photos of its condition before I started working on it. I put the original stem in the shank to give an idea of the overall look of things. I really like the shape of all three of the pipes in this case. The M&T pipe was more delicate than the JBV pipe with a smaller diameter mortise and stem. It was a nice piece of briar other than the crack in the back side of the bowl. The flow and bend of the briar and the layout of the grain is nicely done. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the extent of the damage. The rim top is dented and nicked and there is damage on the inner and outer edge of the rim. There is a small crack on the bowl rim on the back right side extending half way down the side of the bowl. I also took photos of the stem to show its condition. It was dirty and oxidized. There was some chatter on the top and underside near the button but there was no serious damage. I took a photo of the back of the bowl to show the crack that was there that would need to be addressed.I also took close up photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank and ferrule. It is clear but not clear enough to read the hallmarks on the silver.I started the process of refurbishing this old German made pipe by lightly topping the rim to remove the damage to the inner and outer edge.Once I had the bowl topped I drilled small microdrill holes along the ends of the crack as under light it went all the way down to the shank bowl junction. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol and filled in the crack and the pilot holes with super glue and briar dust. When the repair had cured I sanded the repair on the rim top, down inside the bowl for about a ¼ inch and down the back side of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I blended the surface of the repair into the rest of the rim top and bowl. I sanded the outer edge of the bowl and the surface of the bowl itself with 220 grit sandpaper. There were many nicks and scratches in the finish as well as the areas that I had repaired. The bowl is beginning to look good at this point. I sanded the rest of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth. When sanding, I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank so as not to damage that area. I took some photos of the bowl at this point in the process. Things were looking very good. I rubbed the bowl down with a light coat of olive oil and worked it into the briar. I find that a little oil at this point makes the nicks and scratches stand out clearly on the finish and show me what still needs to be sanded. I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and shank as well as the airway into the bowl and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. The airway was open on this one so pipe cleaners worked to quickly clean it up. The mortise on this pipe did not have a Peterson’s style sump but was still quite dirty. It took a lot of work to clean it out. The stem on the other hand was quite clean on the inside.I polished the ferrule with Hagerty’s Silver Polish to remove the tarnish on the silver. I rubbed it on with a cotton pad and polished it with the same pad.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the dust.  The grain was really beginning to stand out nicely. I decided to leave this one with the original stain and not darken or change it. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. It cleans, enlivens and protects the briar. In this case I also found that it blended the stain well on the surface of the briar.   I reapplied the gold to the stamping on both sides of the shank using Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I applied it in the stamping using the tip of a sanding stick. I let the stamping sit for a few minutes then buffed off the excess product with a cotton pad. When I buffed the bowl the excess gold would be removed around the stamping. Once it cured it would come off easily. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. This was the original JBV stem and was made out vulcanite. I sanded out the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to wipe away the sanding dust and bring some life to the vulcanite. With the stem and bowl completed, the third and final installment of this blog – Part 3, is also complete. It is time to reconnect things and take some final photos. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the entire pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The repaired crack on the back side of the bowl and the rim top looked pretty good. The repairs blend in nicely with the original colour of the briar. The repairs are visible up close but they look natural. Thanks for walking with me as I continue on the threesome. With this one the three pipes that came in the case are finished. They presented some interesting challenges in terms of the repairs on each of them. They were interesting to work on and all are in smoking condition. Thanks for reading.

Restoring a Cased Set – 2 JBV & 1 M&T Bent Billiards – Part 1


Blog by Steve Laug

I was chatting with Chris van Hilst from Tobacco Pipe Restorers one day using Messenger and he was selling this old set of pipes. Two of them were stamped JBV in an oval and one was a M&T Best Briar & Bands. The set was missing the third JBV pipe and one of the stems was for the M&T. The silver was dirty and the bowls caked but there was something about the pipes that really attracted me. We talked prices and made a deal. I had him send the pipes to Jeff in Idaho as it was easier to deal with than sending them to Canada. I had him send me a couple of photos of the set that are shown below. The first is the pipes sitting in the case. It shows that there is some kind of cigarette holder and a tamper missing from the set. The second photo shows the JBV in an oval stamp on the left side of the shank of one of the pipes. I could also see hallmarks in the silver but was not able to clearly read them. Jeff received them pretty quickly and put them aside. My daughters went down for my Dad’s 90th birthday so he took the opportunity to send them north with them on their return trip. He had not had a chance to clean them so I was left to my own devices on this set of three. When they arrived, I took a photo of the case before I opened it and of the case open showing the pipes. It is covered in leather and is kidney shaped. It is lightly stained but other than a few nicks it is in great condition.There was some gold leters on the front edge of the case that reads FOURNISSEUR DE SM LEROI DES BELGES. It translates from Belgian French to read PROVIDER HM KING OF BELGIAN. Or the Provider for His Majesty King of Belgium.I opened the case and took a photo of the pipes on the inside and the stamping on the inside of the lid. It reads J.B. Vinche over “Au Nabab” over Bruxelles. That is what it reads as best as I can make out. It is pretty blurry.I took photos of each of the pipes before I started to work on them. I started with the pipe on the left side of the photo above and worked my way across for the photos. The first pipe below is the one on the left. It is stamped JBV in an oval on the left side of the shank. The silver ferrule is also stamped JBV in an oval over BRUX over three hallmarks that are hard to read. The first appears to be a flower, the second a person and the third is ARG over 900. The pipe is in rough shape. The finish is shot; there is silver polish on the shank ahead of the ferrule. There are some gouges in the top and underside of the shank. The JBV Oval was originally gold leaf. There is a thick cake in the bowl and the rim top is beat up. There are big chunks of briar missing around the outer edge of the rim. The rim top is chipped and damaged and the inner edge is in rough condition. The pipe is very dirty. The second pipe is shown below and is the one in the center position in the case. It is stamped BEST BRIAR & BANDS  with each word over the next on the left side of the shank. One the right side it is stamped M&T in a football shaped oval. The silver ferrule is also stamped with a BBB vertically on the side of the band next to the shank. Next to that is the same M&T stamp in an oval over three hallmarks that are hard to read. The first appears to be a flower, the second is 933 and the third is a crescent moon. The pipe is in rough shape. Once again the finish is shot; there is silver polish on the shank ahead of the ferrule. There are some gouges in the top and underside of the shank. There is a thick cake in the bowl and the rim top is beat up. There is a crack running down the back side from the rim halfway to the shank. The rim top is dented and damaged and the inner edge is in better condition than the first pipe. The pipe is very dirty. The third pipe is shown below and is the one on the right side of the case. It is stamped JBV in an oval on the left side of the shank. The silver ferrule is also stamped JBV in an oval over BRUX over three hallmarks that are hard to read. The first appears to be a flower, the second a person and the third is ARG over 900. The pipe is in rough shape. The finish is on this one is also shot; there is silver polish on the shank ahead of the ferrule. There are some gouges in the top and underside of the shank. The JBV Oval was originally gold leaf. There is a thick cake in the bowl and the rim top is beat up. There are big chunks of briar missing around the outer edge of the rim. The rim top is chipped and damaged and the inner edge is in rough condition. There looked like there could be a crack in the bowl down the left side. Like the rest of the pipes in this set the pipe is very dirty. There were two stems in the set. You can see from the photos below that they were different sizes. In the first photo the top stem is more delicate. It is narrower at the tenon end. It is for the M&T pipe while the bottom one is for the JBV pipes. The stems both are in decent condition with a little oxidation and minimal tooth chatter. There are no deep tooth marks so that is something to be thankful for. I knew that the set was older but I was unfamiliar with the brands. I had not heard of JBV so I did a bit of research on the brand and found an interesting link to an old catalogue. It turns out that the JBV is short for J.B. Vinche Company in Brussels. I have included the information on the brand that I found in the link as well as the link below.

This company maintained a factory in Brussels, Belgium, but records indicate that it also operated a retail establishment at 34, Rue Notre Dame des Victoires, in Paris under the name “Au Nabab” where, no doubt, it offered its product line for sale to the public.

https://www.facebook.com/tobaccopipeartistory/photos/a.111646685586370.24977.101191206631918/111646972253008/?type=3&theater

I also included some photos of a J.B. Vinche Catalogue from 1875. I checked on the Pipephil website to see what I could find there. Generally I find the site one of the most helpful in quickly confirming information on a brand. In this case it came through with a great bit of information. I did a screen capture of the pertinent section of the link. You can check it out further on the following link. http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-v2.html.

The information included in the capture reads:

The brand has been created in Bruxelles in 1864 by Jean Baptiste Vinche and run after him by his son Victor. Marcel and Rene Vinche (3rd generation) managed the corporation from 1927 on. The brand is famous for its meerschaum pipes but briar pipes were also produced after 1938. In 1965 Jacques Vinche (4th generation) entered the family firm. Jeff and Mia Koopmans from Hilson Pipes joined in 1977. Today (2009) Ben and Wim Koopmans manage the business.Pipedia confirms this information at the following link: https://pipedia.org/wiki/Vinche.

I could not find out any information on the third pipe – the M&T Best Briar Band pipe. I checked in all of my usual sources and came up empty. Does anyone know anything about the brand? Let me know.

Armed with the background information, I decided to start on these pipes by reaming all three of them. The cake in each was quite thick and the damage to the rim and bowl made me proceed with caution. I was concerned about the cracked bowl in the M&T pipe as well as the potential crack in the second JBV pipe. I started with the first JBV pipe and reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer starting with the first cutting head and working my way up to the second and lightly working on it with the third one. I took the cake back to bare briar to check out the interior of the bowl. I followed up by reaming it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife and finally sanding the bowl with 180 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I moved on to the M&T Best Briar Band pipe and reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer starting with the first cutting head and working my way up to the second and lightly working on it with the third one. I took the cake back to bare briar to check out the interior of the bowl. I followed up by reaming it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife and finally sanding the bowl with 180 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I moved on to the second JBV pipe (the one that I thought had a possible crack). I started with the smallest cutting head on the PipNet pipe reamer and turned it gently in the bowl one twist and the bowl split in half in my hands. I was sick when I felt it break. I have never had that happen in all these years of working on pipes. It really was unbelievable. I held the pieces together and took the cake back to bare briar to check out the interior of the bowl. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife to scrape away the remnants of cake. The photo below shows the bowl in half with the reamer next to it.This is not what I wanted to do next! I had planned to work through each of the pipes and have a nice set! Now I had to deal with this one and because it was part of an old set I felt obligated to try to put it back together. I was just sickening to have the second original bowl break in my hands. Why couldn’t it have been the cracked M&T bowl? But since it was the other JBV bowl I needed to repair it. At this point this blog also took a turn. I would do the rest of the first part of the blog on the bowl repair of this particular JBV pipe. I would have to follow up with at least one more part on the other two pipes in the set.

I turned to repair the bowl. I decided to pin the two halves together and then fill it and line the bowl with JB Weld. It would be a process. I drilled 8 small pin holes in the front half of the bowl and put stainless pins in the holes. I matched the two halves together and marked the holes on the other side of the bowl. I drilled matching holes. Once I had the holes aligned I painted each half with gel super glue and pressed the halves together and held them in place until the glue set. I filled in the cracks around the sides and bottom of the bowl with briar dust and super glue. I used a dental spatula to apply the patch all around the bowl. I pressed the mixture into the crevices that remained in the sides and bottom.When the repair hardened I sanded it with 180 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the bowl. I also repaired the chips out of the edges of the bowl with super glue and briar dust. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper and smoothed out the repaired areas and sanded the rest of the bowl at the same time. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank so as not to damage that area. I topped the bowl to remove the damage to the rim top. I had hand sanded it with sandpaper to start the process and filled in the damaged areas with super glue and briar dust. Now it was time to top it. Once I had it topped I wiped the bowl down with alcohol to remove the dust and the remainder of the finish on the shank and bowl. I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and shank as well as the airway into the bowl with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. The airway was clogged so I pushed a pipe cleaner through into the bowl. The mortise was like a Peterson’s sump and it was filthy. It took a lot of work to clean it out.I sanded the exterior of the bowl with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. At this point I paused in sanding the exterior and turned my attention to repairing the inside of the bowl. I mixed a batch of JB Weld and put a pipe cleaner in the airway into the bowl to keep the airway from being covered with the mixture. I applied the mix to the inside of the bowl with a popsicle stick. I pressed it into the cracks and build up the damaged areas to protect it from further damage. With that I called it a night, set the bowl aside to dry and turned out the lights.  In the morning I sanded out the excess JB Weld with 180 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. I wiped the bowl down with a damp paper towel to remove the dust. The photos below show the bowl at this point. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the dust. I stained the bowl with a Tan aniline stain. I had found that the stain was probably mislabeled as it had a definite red cast to it. I applied it with the dauber and flamed it with a lighter to set the stain in the finish.Once the stain cured I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. It cleans, enlivens and protects the briar. In this case I also found that it blended the stain well on the surface of the briar. I polished the silver with a jeweler’s cloth to polish and remove the tarnish. I reapplied the gold to the stamping on the shank using Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I applied it in the stamping using the tip of a sanding stick. I let the stamping sit for a few minutes then buffed off the excess product.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to making a stem for this pipe. Remember I mentioned that the second stem in the case was for the M&T pipe and was too small in diameter for the shank of the second JBV pipe. I found a Bakelite stem in my box of stems that only needed to be shaped to fit the shank of the pipe. I tapered the end of the stem with a Dremel and sanding drum to match the taper of the other stem. I sanded it with 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the Dremel marks and further taper it.I sanded out the tooth chatter and reshaped the edges of the button with 220 grit sandpaper. I also smoothed out the flow of the stem.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to wipe away the sanding dust and bring some life to the Bakelite. With the stem and bowl done it the first installment of this blog is complete. It is time to reconnect things and take some final photos. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the entire pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. This frustrating old pipe that split in half had been brought back to functional life and it does not look to bad to my eye. This is a long one. For some of you I am sure you are wondering what is wrong with me to take time to fix this one. To you I say it was worth the lessons that I learned and it is still a smokable pipe. Thanks for reading.

Paresh’s Grandfather’s Pipe #7 – Charatan’s Make De Luxe 140 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I have repaired 6 of the 7 older pipes (1937-1950s) left to Paresh by his Grandfather. I have enjoyed working on and researching them. His Grandfather was a pipeman who worked for the Indian Railroad. Paresh recently learned that his Grandfather smoked a pipe. This 7th pipe is a Charatan’s Make De Luxe 140 Billiard with a taper stem. I took photos of the pipe before I stated to work on it. The bowl was in rough shape with a series of cracks running down two spots on the bowl – one on the left side at the centre of the top and running down the bowl and connecting with another crack just right of the centre of the bowl at the back. It was a U shaped crack that went all the way through the bowl. The finish was dirty and the rim top had damage and lava on the rim top. The bowl was out of round. The outer edge of the bowl was damaged from knocking out against hard surfaces. The stem had tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. The stem had the CP stamped on the left side. The rim top had been cleaned and the bowl reamed. There was still some cake in the bowl. Abha (Paresh’s wife) had once again done a great job cleaning the finish. She had scrubbed it with Murphy’s Oil Soap and removed all of the debris and dust from the smooth finish. The cracks showed up on the outside of the bowl and also on the inside of the bowl. The inner edge of the bowl was damaged and slightly out of round. I also took a close up photos of both sides of the stem. You can see the tooth marks on both the top and underside of the stem just in front of the button. The surface of the stem is lightly oxidized.The stamping is readable. On the left side of the shank reads Charatan’ Make over London, England over De Luxe. Next to that is the shape number 140 next to the stem shank junction. There was no stamping on the right side of the shank. I looked up an article on determining dates of manufacture of Charatan Make pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans). That article helped me date this pipe with some level of certainty to the Rueben Era Charatan made between the years 1910-1960. I quote from the portion of the article that gave the identifying characteristics of that era. I quote in full.

Identification of a second era pipe (Rueben’s era, 1910-1960)

Pipes belonging to this period are rare, however is it possible to come across one. They can be distinguished from a pipe of the first era mainly because their larger size. Their characteristics are similar to the ones of the previous era.

1) Pipes can be larger, up to the dimension of a Dunhill group 5

2) The mouthpiece is tapered or saddle.

3) No double comfort

4) the CP logo is engraved so that the C enters the P

5) Absence of £ on the pipe shank (note that from 1955 all the pipe imported in the USA by Lane has it, however that stamping is not synonymous of the Lane era).

6) Absence of the letter X on the shape code engraved on the shank (for ex. 2502 and not 2502X)

7) Absence of letters DC after the shape number (for ex. 2502 and not 2505DC)

8) Absence of the engraving “MADE BY HAND” on the shank (introduced for the first time in 1958)

9) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” on 2 lines

10) The CP logo is finer than in following eras

All ten of the items in the above list apply to the pipe in hand. From the stamping on the stem where the C enters the P to the missing L which places it as pre-1955 to the lack of a double comfort bit all help to place this pipe in this time period.

With that I reread Paresh’s biographical write up on his Grandfather once again. There Paresh stated that his Grandfather had visited England in 1946 and that later after 1947 the British left India for good. Many of the Superior Officers gave his Grandfather pipes as parting gifts. I am fairly confident that this was one of those gift pipes given to him around 1947. I am including his bio now as part of the background information on this pipe. Here is Paresh’s tribute.

Respected Sir,

Now that the first batch of my Grandfather’s pipes has reached you, I would like to share my memories of him with you, the aim being to provide you with an insight to his personality, the era in which he lived, and a brief history associated with the pipes that I have inherited from him.

My Grandfather, Ananta (named after an exotic seasonal white flower having lovely fragrance), was born in a small coastal town of Konkan region of Maharashtra, India, in 1918. These were very turbulent times when India’s freedom struggle against British rule was gathering momentum and the atmosphere was charged with “Quit India Movement”. Having completed his graduation from Bombay, he joined Railways in 1937. This also marked the beginning of his journey into the world of pipe smoking!!!!!

Having seen his potential, in 1945, he was sponsored by the Government to visit England, for gaining further experience and expertise in his profession. This was a period when India’s Independence was round the corner and efforts were being made to train Indians for various administrative appointments in future Independent India. He returned back to India after a year, in 1946 and with him came some pipes that he had purchased in England. I believe a few of his Petes, Barlings, Charatans and GBDs are from this visit.

In 1947, when the British finally left India for good, my Grandfather was gifted pipes by his British peers, subordinates and Superior Officers as a parting gift. He stayed in touch with a few of them over all these years, even visiting them in 1959-60. Some of his later era Charatans and Barlings and Petes are from this trip. He quit smoking in early 1970s (before I was even born!!!!) and his pipes were packed up. There were a number of pipes which were used as TINDER for lighting fires (CAN’T BELIEVE IT…… I have not overcome my grief of this loss till date!!!!!) due to ignorance!!!!!!

My Grandfather was a very strict disciplinarian and temperamental (I did not know this as he was neither when dealing with me as I am the youngest of all his grandchildren!!!!!! He was always the most understanding and loving person in my life). I later learned that in his office, he was not to be disturbed when his pipe was lit, as he would be in his thinking/ contemplating mode while it was just the opposite as he lit his pipe in the evening while at home, when he would be at his relaxed best!!!!.

The interesting part is that neither of us knew that we each smoked a pipe until after his demise in Jan 2018!!!! In our culture, to this day, smoking or alcohol consumption is socially never talked about (mute acceptance!!!). It was during his last rites that absent mindedly I lighted my pipe and looking into the flickering flames of his funeral pyre, remembered and recollected all the wonderful memories and talks that we had shared. No one said a word to me about my lighting up a pipe!!!!!! Immediately thereafter, I rejoined my duty station. A few days later, my wife, Abha, received a box from my Uncle with a note that said “Grandfather would have loved Paresh to have these”. This box contained a collection of his fountain pens and 8-10 of his pipes (since then as my folks are winding up his belongings, I have received 2-3 packets and a large number of pipes, some in decent condition and some in unspeakable state). Abha immediately messaged me with pictures of these pipes and pens. I had been collecting and restoring (no major repairs, though) fountain pens since long and immediately recognized some of them as highly collectibles, however, pipes were a totally different ball game! I was inexperienced with no knowledge/ information regarding various brands/ pipe makers, shapes and materials. I knew nothing about the value of these pipes, nothing about pipe restorations, nothing about caring for them; I mean zero knowledge about collecting pipes. I smoked some real cheap Chinese pipes which were readily and unfortunately, the only ones, available in India and some inexpensive pipes from eBay India!!!!! Also regular pipe cleaning, pipe rotation, pipe cleaners and such things were unknown to me.

Thus, to know more about the REAL pipes, I embarked upon the journey of exploring finer nuances of pipe brands/ makers, their history and watching “How to videos” on packing a pipe, cleaning, repairing and caring for ones pipes. I found it extremely interesting and satisfying. It was while meandering through this confusing quagmire of pipe world that I came across rebornpipes.com website and eventually established contact with you, Mr Steve, who has since been my mentor, guide and GURU, making this journey a wonderful and satisfying experience.

Sir, there is one more thing that I need to thank you for and that is when you asked me to write a brief about my grandfather and his pipes, I realized how little I knew about him, in fact, knew nothing, as I was not even aware that he was a “pipeman” as no one in my family ever spoke about it being taboo subject and since he had quit a long time before I was even born!!!! This led me to ask the elders in my family, questions on the subject and came to know the above details. I cannot thank you enough for prodding me to get to know my grandfather and his pipes a lot better. Sir, these pipes of his, with your help and guidance, will remain with me forever in mint condition…

I began work on the pipe by cleaning up the reaming of the bowl first with a PipNet pipe reamer. I began with the smallest cutting head and worked on cleaning up the inside of the bowl. While I cleaned it up the cracked section of the bowl came loose. I cleaned up the unbroken portion of the bowl and the broken chunk with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove the remnants of cake left behind. I cleaned off the edges of the broken chunk of bowl and the remaining bowl with alcohol on cotton swabs. I used a slow curing clear super glue to repair the cracked chunk of briar. I painted the edges of the bowl and the chunk with the super glue and pressed the chunk in place in the bowl side. I held it in place until the glue had set and the chunk was firmly in place. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to wipe off the excess glue. I sanded the repaired cracks with 220 grit sandpaper and smoothed out the finish to blend in the repairs with the rest of the bowl. Once I had cleaned up the repairs I touched them up with clear super glue to fill in the divots in the repair. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repair further after the touch ups. I took pictures of the repair at this point to show the progress.I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper and a topping board to smooth out the finish on the top. I removed the damaged areas, removed the glue that had squeezed out from the repairs and cleaned up the rough areas on the outer edge of the rim.I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to blend the repairs into the finish of the bowl. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad after each grit sanding pad. I mixed up a batch of JB Weld and applied it to the inside of the bowl with a paper clip and a folded pipe cleaner. I worked it into the inside of the cracks and lined the bowl walls all around the cracks until it was smooth. I set it aside to let it cure.Abha had done a great job cleaning out the internals of the mortise and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I ran a pipe cleaner through the shank to remove any of the debris that I had loosened when reaming the bowl. It was pretty clean so it did not take much as the interior was clean.I worked Before & After Restoration Balm deep into the briar of the bowl and shank to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it in with my fingertips and set it aside for a few minutes to let the balm work. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The briar really began to have a deep shine and the grain began to shine through. I took photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration.   I worked on the inside edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage to the edge of the bowl.I stained the briar with a Dark Brown aniline stain and flamed it with a Bic lighter to set the stain. I repeated the process until I had even coverage on the bowl. I wanted to leave the stain pretty opaque to blend the repaired crack into the rest of the briar. I let the Dark Brown stain dry. Once it was dried I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax, let it dry and then buffed the bowl by hand. I repeated the wax until the pipe looked good to my eye. I set the bowl aside and began the work on the stem. There were some deep tooth marks in the surface of the stem near button. I cleaned the areas with alcohol and filled in the marks with black super glue.  When the super glue cured I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the stem. I used a needle file to sharpen the inside edge of the button.I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs and blend them into the surface of the surrounding vulcanite.I cleaned out the airway on the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol to clean out the tar and oils. It did not take much work to remove all of the remaining tars because Abha had done a really good job cleaning out the stem.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad and set it aside to dry. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I wiped it down with some Obsidian Oil to fine the polishing process. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. I left a little oxidation around the CP stamp on the stem so as not to damage it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is the final pipe from Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes that I finished and I will get them packed up and sent across the sea to India where he can carry on the legacy. I know that he is looking forward to having them in hand and enjoying a bowl of his favourite tobacco in memory of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this pipe over.

Saving a New Friend


Blog by Dave Weagle

When I saw Dave’s work on this old pipe I knew I wanted to read about the process he used in repairing this old friend. I wrote him a message on the Facebook Tobacco Pipe Restorers Group and asked him if he would be interested in putting together a blog for us here at rebornpipes. He gladly accepted the offer and today he sent along this blog. Welcome to rebornpipes Dave. It is a pleasure to have you show your work and skills here. The invitation is always open to you. With no further intro I will let Dave speak for himself. Enjoy.

Growing up I always knew that someday I would be a pipe smoker. I remember during an anti smoking discussion in grade 1 at the rip old age of 7, I told the teacher I had no interest in cigarettes but someday I would smoke a pipe. That was 1978.

Over the past 40 years I have had a few passions that have shaped my life. Recently pipe smoking and restoration has been one of them. During the 90’s while working backshifts I discovered old black and white suspense movies from the 1930’s & 1940’s. Of these the Sherlock Holmes movies starring Basil Rathbone became a favorite.

Once I decided I was ready to take up pipe smoking I knew there was one pipe brand I would have to acquire. Peterson. After some research I found that Basil Rathbone smoked a 4ab in the movies produced by Universal. Further research suggested the 4ab shape would become the 309.   I found a Peterson Patent pipe a few years ago hiding in a lot on Ebay with a bunch of old burnt cobs. With a bit of work I had a close copy of a 4ab.

My Peterson Patent pipe with a stem I modified.Now for the back story. 

Now for the back story.  Since March of 2016 I have started chasing pre- republic pipes. This past Christmas (2017) with a little cash burning a hole in my pocket, I went surfing my usual online pipe haunts for older Petes. I found a seller on Etsy that had some interesting older pipes. One was a Pete. There was no shape number in the listing so I emailed the seller. It turned out to be a 313. I have three 313 already, so I thanked the seller but declined the pipe. To my surprise he emailed me back and asked if I’d be interested in some older unrestored Petersons. We emailed back and forth and came up with an arrangement that both were happy with. I bought 8 pipes. A Peterson calabash with a silver hallmark dated 1908 and a S17 sealed the deal (those will be future restorations). The other 6 pipes where all Republic era pipes. My favorite shape 309 was there so I was very pleased with my purchase.

This is where my restoration story begins. When the pipes arrived from England I was surprised to find how well loved the 309 was. The shank was actually worn crooked. The stem was worn and the nickel cap had a crack and 11 dents. I contacted Peterson about getting a new cap on the 309. When I found out how expensive it was I decided this was a lot of money to restore a well used 309. I started looking for a donor 309. It didn’t take long to find a cracked 309 (a cracked Chacom and Nording came with it) which would be a great parts pipe for about half the price of shipping my original 309 back to the factory to be fixed.

The donor 309 came from EBay. It took two weeks for the pipe to travel from California to Nova Scotia. During the two weeks, I kept going back to the original listing and night after night I keep thinking I can’t send this donor 309 to the scrap pile without at least attempting to save it. This is how the pipe arrived.Not sure how to approach this repair I decided to gently ream it to see the extent of the inner bowl damage. I didn’t want to just start filling the crack with CA glue and briar dust. This was the result of reaming. Some people might have been upset by the result but I knew it was a good thing. I now knew the extent of the damage. Also, I could clean up the cracked surfaces to remove any loose char or ash. Using cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol I cleaned all the damaged area before reattachment. I now had two pieces of the bowl which I glued together and let them set. Once they dried I fit them back in place and set to gluing and pinning.I started by drilling several vertical holes and then drilled the horizontal holes making sure that the two broken pieces were pinned to each other and into the remaining bowl. I used several types of CA glue in this process. I used a thinned glue designed to flow into cracks. The pins were cut to fit and glued with a thicker gap filling gel CA. When it came time to fill the cracks and the drilled holes I used a standard CA and briar dust. I used several coats of glue and dust to fill everything in, brushing the bowl between coats with a brass bristled bush to remove any loose dust and checked each coat with my jeweler’s lope for coverage. Once I was happy with the surface coverage, using my jewelers lope and a rotary tool I tried to copy the rustification as close to the original as possible. I always wear a dust mask when I attempt surface repairs using a jeweler’s lope and a rotary tool. The pipe is right about nose level and the tool blows the dust right in your face.This is the outer surface after about two hours of work. Now it was time to fix up the inner bowl.  After the outer repair was complete it was evident that a burnt out was the cause of the crack.  There was an indent which need to be filled. Usually I use fireplace cement (a paste I make out of hardwood ash that I collect from my woodstove) to patch small burns in a bowl but this was going to be a large patch ,so I wanted something stronger. JB Weld was what I used. After wiping out the bowl with cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol to remove any loose char and ash I mixed up some JB Weld and applied it to the inner bowl. After let it dry overnight I turned again to my rotary tool with a sanding drum to even out the walls. Again, wear a mask if using when this method because it throws a lot of dust in the air, and you’ll be sneezing for a few days (past experience). With the inner bowl smooth and round it was on to cleaning the draft hole and the shank. Using a 4mm drill bit I redrilled the draft hole. With cotton swabs, isopropyl alcohol and a dental tool I cleaned the shank and draft hole. After cleaning and drilling I didn’t like the depth of the bowl reverses the position of the draft hole so I added a bit more JB Weld to the bottom of the bowl. Using a small piece of 220 grit sand paper I sanded the inner bowl again so there were no rough seams. With the repairs to the bowl it was time to refinish. Using my brass bristle brush and a 3M autobody scuff pad I gently buffed the outer bowl. I carefully polished the stamping using micro mesh pads starting at 3200, finishing with 12000.

When it came to the staining I used Fiebing’s leather dye. USMC black was the base coat and Ox Blood was the finish coat. Both colours where flamed to set the dye into the grain. I then hand buffed the bowl before coating the bowl with Halcyon II wax. Once the wax had dried I hand buffed the bowl again. While staining the bowl I got some red stain on the cap which I removed with Autosol polish (I use it to polish the chrome bumpers on my Dodge Ram) which also cleans up the oxidation. With the outside finished it was time to finish the inside. For this I decided a coating of maple syrup and charcoal would be the best to help rebuild the new cake as the pipe is smoked. With a pipe cleaner placed in the draft hole the inner bowl was lined with maple syrup. Then the bowl was filled with charcoal. I gently tapped the top of the bowl with a spoon to remove any air gaps (not unlike how I may tap a bowl when I fill it with tobacco). I let the bowl dry before removing the excess charcoal. This was the finish of the work on the bowl. All that was left to finish was the stem. The stem was heavily oxidized so a soak in Oxiclean for a few hours. After removing the stem from its Oxi bath I cleaned the inner stem with bristle pipe cleaners and Isopropyl alcohol. There was a lot of chatter on the tip including some dents on the P lip. I heated the stem with a heat gun to raise the dents with some success. A quick sanding with 220 grit sand paper and a wipe with isopropyl alcohol I was ready to repair the dents that didn’t raise. Rubberized CA glue and charcoal powder were mixed and used to patch the dents. With a coarse file I reshaped the P lip. Starting with 220 grit sand paper I dry sanded the stem removing the excess glue. From there I dry sanded the stem with 600 grit. I then changed to wet sanding with 1000, 2000, and 3000 sand paper. I switch to dry sanding with 4000 – 12000 grit micro mesh pads. Once I was happy with the sanding, I polished the stem with blue diamond compound on a buffing wheel. To finish, I applied several coats of carnauba wax on a soft buffing wheel. A hand buff finished the stem work. All that was left was to assemble the stem and the bowl. Here is a shot of the two 309’s involved in this project. The donor being in the front. With guidance from certain pipe repair blogs, I have used their techniques and developed some of my own. A few years ago starting out buying estate pipes I never thought I’d be able to do repair work like this.

Just for the record, I have decided to just send the other 309 to Peterson to have a new cap installed. My attempt to save money ended up costing me more, but one can never have too many pipes. Right?