Tag Archives: repairing a cracked shank

A Tiny 2 Star BBB 8881 Apple/Globe Provided An Interesting Challenge


Blog by Steve Laug

When I spoke with a fellow here in Vancouver who had a pipe that he wanted me to fix it sounded like a simple repair. He said that it had a very loosely fitting stem. He asked if he could drop by to show it to me and see if I could fix it. From past experience I have learned to never jump to conclusions about what sounded like an easy repair. When he arrived he showed me his GBD Faux Spigot. It turned out to need far more work than just tightening a loose stem. I wrote about that restoration in a previous blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/11/03/redoing-a-poorly-restored-ebay-gbd-super-q-9436/). We talked about his GBD for a bit and he made the decision to have me do a restoration on it. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small plastic bag with a little BBB 2 Star apple of globe shaped pipe. It was stamped BBB in a diamond on the left side of the shank with two ** – one on either side of the diamond. ON the right side it was stamped Made in England over the shape number 8881. He said that he had found it at his parents’ house and really no one there knew where it came from.

Here is what I saw. Starting with externals. The pipe was small – kind of a pocket pipe. The grain on the bowl was quite stunning – a mix of flame and birdseye all around the bowl and shank. The rim top was coated with a thick lava coat and it went into the bowl. The inner edge of the bowl was in rough shape having been hacked clean with a knife. There was a crack on the right side of the shank curving to the underside. It looked to me it was made by the poorly made stem being shoved into the shank. The stem was larger in diameter than the shank and had been rounded over with a file. There were deep bite marks on the surface ahead of the button on both sides. Moving to the internals. The end of the tenon was carved with a knife to make it fit the mortise in the small shank. The inside of the shank was dirty but less so than I expected. The inside of the bowl had a light cake but most of that was gone from the knife job that had left a wounded inner edge on the rim. Looking at the pipe I explained what I would have to do to bring it back to life and restore it to use. It would need, cleaning, reshaping on the rim, a band on the cracked shank that would leave the stamping readable, and a reworking of the stem to make it a fitting addition to the lovely briar of the bowl. The pipe was going to be a fun challenge. I took these photos to give you an idea of what I saw. The previous pipeman who had fit a new stem to an old favourite pipe had done a functional job but it looked rough. It was pretty clean on the inside so it was cared for. It must have been a great smoking pipe for him to fit a new stem and not give up on it when the previous one broke or was lost. It was smokable. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition. It is hard to see but the rim top was not smooth. The lava build up was pretty thick and there were some deep nicks and chips in the flat top. The close up photos of the stem reveal the scratches in the vulcanite, the tooth marks and the worn and ill-defined button.  The oversized diameter – prettified to look nice is clear in the photos. I took photos from the side of the pipe to show the stamping on the shank and the prettified stem. In the second photo you can see the crack in the shank curving downward to the underside.I decided to address the cracked shank first. With the crack as large as it was and movable I did not want to further damage it when I worked on the stem and fit of the tenon. I knew that it needed to be banded but that would cover the stamping on the shank so adjustments would have to be made. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the size of the shank to fit the band I had chosen. I did not take of too much briar and I only damaged the M in Made In England as part of it would end up being covered by the band.I repaired the crack in the shank with super glue and pressure fit the band onto the shank to the point of the end of the sanded portion. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to cut back the band to the width that I wanted. Compare the photos above with the one below to see how much I took off of the band. I topped the band on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and smooth out the sharp edge with 1500 grit micromesh. I decided that since I was already working with the Dremel and sanding drum that I would take down the excess diameter on the stem as well. I reduced it to sit snugly against the band giving the pipe a classy look.I cleaned up around the inside edge of the band and edge on the shank with a folded piece of 2220 grit sandpaper to smooth things out and make the fit and transition smooth. I lightly sanded the blade portion of the stem and the area of the tooth marks next to the button with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and clean it up. I fit the stem in the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point in the process. It was beginning to look like a classic BBB to my eye. With the stem roughly fit to the shank it was time to address the bowl top. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. At that point I called it a night. I had to catch a train down to the southern part of Washington from Vancouver in the morning so I thought I would bag up a couple of pipes I was working on and take them with me.I caught the train south from Vancouver, BC at 6:30am. Once we had our seats we were in for an 8 hour train ride. I figure it would be a good opportunity to work on these two pipes. You can see my work table in the photo below. I used the fold down table. It had a lip around it so I spread out a couple of napkins for the dust and went to work on the pipes.I started working on the BBB by addressing the damage to the inner edge of the rim. It was significant with cuts and burns. My topping worked had helped with the top damage and smoothed that out but I need to work on the rim edge. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the sharp edges and bring the bowl back to round. Once I had the rim as round as I could get it and smoothed out the damaged edge I polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I polished the bowl and the rim at the same time. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp napkin after each pad. I touched up the stain around the front of the band and stained the rim top and inner edge with Maple and Cherry stain pens. Together the two stains matched the rest of the bowl.I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rim matches well but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to reshape the button and also to smooth out the marks left by the Dremel when reducing the diameter of the stem. I sanded the tooth marks near the button on each side of the stem to smooth them out.I polished the stem, tenon and metal work with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I was able to remove the damage on the tenon and polish out the dripping varnish on the metal adornment. The stem looked much better at this point in the process. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. This turned out to be a beautiful little pocket pipe in terms of shape and finish. The new nickel band adds a touch of class in my opinion and gives the pipe a new elegance. I look forward to hearing what the fellow who dropped it off for repair thinks of it once he has it in hand and is smoking it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 4 inches, Height: 1 3/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

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Reworking and Restemming What Looked Like a Lost Cause


Blog by Ryan Thibodeau

I have been following Ryan’s work on FaceBook’s Tobacco Pipe Restorers Group and have been impressed with his work. When he posted the work on this old Canadian stummel with a lot of issues I wrote and asked if he would be willing to post it on rebornpipes. He said sure and sent me the following write up. I am happy to welcome Ryan to the pages of the blog. It is a pleasure to have you here. Without further ado I will let Ryan introduce himself to you all. — Steve

My name is Ryan Thibodeau, I live in the Hamilton Ontario region I stumbled upon this hobby by accident. When my Father learned of my new hobby, he gave me his 1959 Dunhill shell briar pipes. They hadn’t been smoked in 38 years and needed some TLC. I had them restored and they were the first two pipes in my rack.

From there I joined various Facebook Groups and happened upon Steve’s blog “Reborn Pipes”, I was inspired immediately. Since that time I’ve been collecting tired worn out pipes and testing my ability to return them to a condition that I would be proud of. It is a wonderful hobby, that doesn’t require a lot of space to do.

Every pipe has a story! Usually the smoker who owned it, and their story, is more interesting than the pipe itself.

I purchased this pipe in a lot of 12. There were only one or two pipes in the lot that I really wanted and the price was right, so I wasn’t heartbroken if the rest came to rest in the bottom of my box of pipes. One of them came in a case that was meant for a meerschaum, and it looked decent when in the picture, but further investigation revealed a lot of issues that would need to be repaired. I started by removing the silver band, which came off without any effort and used Heirloom Stripper to remove all the dirt, grime, old finish and lift some of the stain. This allowed me to get a real good look at the damage to this pipe. Next I used my Castleford reamer to remove all the cake out of the bowl. There was very little cake lining the bowl, however; once I removed the cake I found that walls of the tobacco chamber were severely charred. I suspect this pipe was smoked very hot and the briar was charred to charcoal. I wanted to see how much of the chamber was damaged ( I prefer to ream my bowls right back to fresh briar. This way I can see if there are any heat fissures or major issues that would make a restoration go sour after the first smoke)

I removed the charred wood. The reamers will shave away the charred wood, once you feel the resistance of the blades rubbing the fresh briar you know you’ve removed the charring.I used a combination of Briar dust and CA Glue to create a patch for the gouge on the side of the bowl. Using a flat file, I filed the patch down to the profile of the pipe. Afterwards I topped the bowl to level out the rim and the patch. The bowl was also over reamed by its previous owner so I added a bevel to the inside of the bowl at the rim to blend everything in.

There was a lot of filing and sanding through this process to get it just right. Unfortunately I get hyper focused during this process and forgot to take step-by-step pictures.

The grey patches you see inside the bowl is a product called JB Weld. I mixed up a batch and filled the problem areas in the chamber, afterwards I sanded it down to blend with the rest of the chamber. In my experience the product is completely inert once cured. It is handy for a reconstruction of this kind, but I’d recommend adding a bowl coating as an added barrier.This pipe came to me without a stem. Fortunately I had a stem that would be the perfect length, I just needed to shape the tenon to fit the pipe. For this I used the Pimo Tenon cutter from Vermont Freehand.

I also used the opportunity while I was at this end of the pipe to drill a hole ahead of the crack in the shank and filled used briar dust and CA Glue. As sometimes happens with restorations, I thought I stopped the crack from spreading, well I was wrong and it continued from the patch further up the shank about ¼ of an inch. So I drilled another hole and patched it again. This time I seemed to have everything under control.

The stem was quite simple to shape to the profile of the pipe and was a welcome change from the frustrations of the other repairs that didn’t go according to plan.

Once I had all the parts and repairs completed. I sanded the entire pipe and stem with 320 grit sandpaper up to 8000 grit (1500-8000 with micro mesh pads) Rustication

At this point I had to consider how I was going to finish this pipe. Originally this was a smooth finish Canadian Billiard, but those days were long behind this tired old pipe. I originally thought of using a really dark stain to hide all the imperfections, polish it and call it a day, then I thought I’d take a risk and create something new, and breath new life into this pipe. For all the effort I put into this pipe up to this point I figured I’d let my creativity flow.

I decided that I would rusticate this pipe and leave a smooth patch somewhere, where I hadn’t determined yet. Using a Dremel and a 107 Carving bit I started to rusticate the shank and worked my way to the heel, then up the stummel. Halfway up the stummel the pipe revealed its final design-leave the top of the bowl smooth! I wasn’t sure at first because it would mean I had to blend in that CA patch, but I now avoided trying to rusticate it.

I was very pleased with the result.

Staining & Finishing

I used Fiebings Dark Brown alcohol based dye over the entire pipe as a base, then wiped on Fiebings Oxblood till I achieved the colour I wanted. To seal the stain in the pipe I applied a thin layer of shellac which gave it a glossy look I didn’t like. I left it, and just stayed the course with this experiment to see how it turned out.

In the morning the Shellac had cured. I began the polishing process at this point. I don’t have a buffing wheel yet, so I use cotton wheel buffing bits that fit to my dremel.

I started with Tripoli and thoroughly went over the entire pipe and stem. The tripoli did a good job of taking down the shellac, and making it less pronounced. I followed that up with white diamond and then finally carnauba wax.  I used a fluffy felt bit to polish the whole pipe.

Bowl Coating

You will find a variety of recipes and opinions on bowl coatings. I use them when needed and I prefer the waterglass recipe that a pipe maker shared with me. It is a combination of Sodium Silicate, Activated Charcoal and White Pumice. Once cured it provides a refractory layer on the inside of the bowl, and it feels like 800 grit sandpaper which promotes new cake build up without putting a lot of heat stress on the worn out briar.

This pipe definitely tested the limits of my abilities  and I learned some new techniques that I had only seen others use. Here’s the finished pipe!

 

 

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS – Is this pipe repairable?


Blog by Steve Laug

In this next installment of the Answers to Questions blogs, I want to address a question that comes to me via email, the contact button on the blog or through Facebook. I receive photos and descriptions of pipes in a variety of conditions asking if I think the pipe is repairable. I have learned over time that the question has a variety of possible answers. I think that questioner thinks it will be a yes or no question. Really, I suppose that is what they want to hear. Yes I think it can be repaired or No, it cannot be repaired. Often when I answer yes, they want me to do the work, and sometimes when I answer, no they want to send it me to “dispose” of properly. But really the question is not a yes or no question. Every pipe gives multiple options for how to proceed.

I think the right question to ask is, “How badly do you want to keep this pipe?” or “How much work are you willing to put into this pipe?” These questions determine what a person will do and what lengths they will go to in order to keep or return the pipe to smokable condition. If the question is merely a simple yes or no then many pipes will end up in the tinderbox destined for the fire. However, if the question is as I have spelled it out above then the answer will lead to the next steps of restoration. Let’s talk about some of the pipes that have come across my desk or my email address that can illustrate this variation on the question.

A Beautiful older Peterson 999 with a huge burned out hole in the lower left side of the bowl. Many would have simply said good-bye to this old friend because you could put your index finger through the side of the bowl. It appeared to be a goner. When I looked at it I remembered an old Blatter and Blatter pipe that I had picked up on eBay that had a burn out on the back side of the bowl. I had talked to the shop in Montreal and they had me send it back to them. They drilled out the burned out area until they had solid briar. Then they cut a chunk of new briar and fit it into the drilled out hole. They glued it in place and once it had set, they rusticated the patch to match the rest of the bowl. They gave the inside of the bowl a bowl coating to protect it until a cake had formed and sent it back to me. I have had that pipe for over 20 years now and it is still going strong. You would be hard pressed to find the repaired area.

With that living memory I said yes to the burned out Peterson. In days past, I would have walked away and left it for firewood but I had learned. I drilled out the burned out area with a drill bit until the surrounding briar was solid. I cut a plug from a piece of briar and adjusted it to fit into the hole. I glued it in place and rusticated the area around the plug and lower part of the bowl until it blended in well. I stained the lower half of the bowl with a dark brown stain and the upper half with a medium brown stain. The finished exterior looked very good. I coated the inside of the bowl with bowl coating to protect it. The fellow still smokes the pipe I believe and the repair has held up well. Here is the link to the blog: https://rebornpipes.com/2014/02/06/plugging-a-burnout-on-a-petersons-irish-whiskey-999/

You can see from that example that a simple yes or no question would have probably sacrificed what turned out to be a repairable bowl. The question was whether I wanted to take the time and invest the work to make it smokable again. In this case the invested work was worth the results in my opinion.

An Ardor Urano Fancy with a ½ inch deep chunk broken out of the right side edge of the rim. This is one that caught my eye on Ebay. Many would have simply passed it up and said it was not worth repairing. The large broken out chunk of briar from the back right side of the bowl near the top and the general wear and tear on the bowl would have easily made it a pass. But to me something about the rugged rustication and the blue of the shank end and stem just caught my eye and made me want to give it a try. So I put in the only bid on the pipe – no surprise there and picked it up for a decent price. This was a pipe that would go in my collection and not be sold and it was a pipe that would provide more schooling for me in the art of pipe repair.

I had it shipped to Idaho and my brother cleaned it up for me. When it finally came to Canada I was excited to see what could be done with it. I cleaned out the damaged area with alcohol and cotton swabs until the surface was clear. I smoothed out the edges of the break to make fitting a new piece of briar a little easier. I cut a piece of briar from the side of one of my sacrificial briar bowls that I keep just for this purpose. I shaped the piece of briar with my Dremel and a sanding drum until I had it close to fitting. I used the Dremel to give the inner edge a bit of a curve that would match the wall of the pipe around it. Once I was close I used a file and 80 grit sandpaper to bring to the size that I could press it into the damaged area. I coated the edges with epoxy and pressed the chunk in place. I filled in around the patch with clear super glue to ensure that the seal was tight. I set it aside to cure.

The next day I used the Dremel with various burrs to rusticate the repaired area to match the surround bowl sides. There was an uneven smooth area around the rim top so I left that smooth on the repair as well. Once the rustication was complete and I was satisfied with the match I washed the area down with a cotton pad and alcohol. I mixed a batch of JB Weld and coated the wall of the repaired area. Once it dried I used the Dremel and sanding drum to carefully smooth out the inside of the bowl. I gave it a thick coat of pipe mud and let it dry. I stained it with a dark brown aniline stain and washed it lightly with alcohol to blend it in. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I have had the pipe now for almost a year and it smokes really well and looks pretty good for a repair. Here is a link to the full blog: (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/02/26/with-just-a-little-work-i-now-have-a-dr-ardor-urano-fantasy-apple/) The next three examples show very different repairs and issues with old pipes that I have dealt with. I decided to use two of them as examples in this blog. https://rebornpipes.com/2016/09/03/what-to-do-with-a-cracked-bowl-options-for-their-repair/. The first was cut off and the job was done very poorly. It had originally been a GBD 9438 in a previous life and someone had cut off the entire top half of the bowl. They had restained the bowl but had not sanded it so there were saw marks and file marks and a very rough look to the pipe. This is another pipe that could easily have been relegated to the dust bin. My brother Jeff picked it up in a bunch of pipe from a fellow on Ebay who called himself a refurbisher. This pipe came as one that had been restored. It had a lot of problems. Not only had he cut the bowl off he had also used a Dremel and took it straight down the bowl leaving a mess in the bottom of the bowl. I figured that maybe there was something redeemable in the pipe. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reshape the top and round it over giving some form to the damaged bowl. I decided to round it over leaving a rounded top edge to the rim. It took a lot of sanding and shaping but I think in the end I had a smokable pipe with a bit of charm that previously had been severely lacking. You be the judge. Was it worth the effort to do the work on the bowl?

The second pipe in the lot was an Alpha freehand rusticated shape that someone had done the same hack job to the bowl was very short and held a mere thimble full of tobacco. It had thick walls on the portion of the bowl that was left so I decided to experiment. If the experiment did not work there would be no loss. I had a bowl with the shank missing and damage to the bottom side that could easily be salvaged and the two parts connected to make a new pipe. I cut off the damaged (cracked) bottom of the sacrificial bowl in preparation for the new union. I drill small holes in the top of the bowl and the base that matched each other and cut some stainless pins that would join the two parts. I glued the pins in the base and coated the surface of each part with epoxy and pressed them together until the surfaces joined. I filled in the gaps and crevices joining the two bowls with briar dust and super glue. Once everything had set I reshaped the bowl so that the joint was less visible and then rusticated the new top half to match the base. I coated the inside of the bowl sealing the area where they joined with JB Weld and when dry sanded it out with my Dremel leaving the JB Weld only in the joint. I coated the bowl with a bowl coating of sour cream and charcoal powder. I restained the bowl with a dark brown stain. Once the pipe was finished I had an interesting chimney pipe that would give many more years of service. Was this worth it? To me it was worth the education for me. GBD Made Square Shank Poor Richards Pipe Shop with a lot of cracks around the bowl. This one was a challenge that Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes Blog and I took on together. We were experimenting with the question, “When was a pipe no longer redeemable.” https://rebornpipes.com/2016/03/06/a-humpty-dumpty-cross-canada-project-could-this-poor-richards-select-square-shank-billiard-9489-ever-be-whole-again/. The pipe was one my brother had picked up that was stemless. The bowl was a mess with cracks on all sides of the bowl. Charles and I had been chatting on Skype about repairing pipes and I told him about it and we decided to make it a joint effort. Charles was experimenting with using rods to stitch a cracked bowl back together again and this was just the one to do that on. He drilled angled holes on each side of the crack and pushed a rod through. The angles of each set of holes was drilled in opposition to the previous one so that it acted to pull the crack together. The next series of photos show the process of stitching the bowl together, filling in the holes and refinishing the bowl. Putting the shank back on a broken LHS Park Lane DeLuxe — Lovat 12. The next one was a fun pipe to work on. It was one that I would have thrown in the bin for parts in the past. The shank was completely broken off leaving a short section on the bowl. I liked the look of the Cumberland stem and the Lovat is one of my favourite shapes so I figured it was worth a try. You can read the details on the blog here: https://rebornpipes.com/2015/09/29/repairing-a-broken-shank-on-an-lhs-park-lane-de-luxe-lovat-12/ I cleaned up the broken ends of the shank and bowl and used a brass tube to insert, glue and bind the two parts together. I filled in the gaps in the crack with clear super glue and briar dust to make things smooth. The crack virtually disappeared into the grain once I stained the pipe with a dark brown stain. The finished pipe is shown in the last two photos. The repair has held up for several years now without any sign of the joint failing. Crafting a Frankenpipe from a cut off Brebbia Lido Bowl and a piece of bamboo. The next example is a Brebbia Lido that my brother picked up on one of his trips. Someone had glued a stem in the shank and the shank itself had been cut off crooked so the entire pipe curved toward the right. The short shank also did not work well with the stem that had been put on the bowl. We removed the stem during the cleanup process and cleaned off the glue and crud in the shank. It looked like another broken pipe but I thought that the shank had enough length that a piece of shank could be added. I checked out the look with a piece of briar, acrylic and bamboo. The bamboo worked for me the best. I used a topping board to square up the shank end on the Lido and both ends of the piece of bamboo. When I put the two together the junction was smooth and tight. I joined the bamboo to the shank of the pipe using a piece of Delrin tenon that I glued into the shank first and then into the bamboo. I filled in the small gaps around the joint with super glue to seal it tight. Once it had cured, I glued a drilled out acrylic button on the end of the bamboo to keep it from fraying or splitting when the stem was in put in and taken out repeatedly. The longer stem worked well with the rustication and the bamboo the contrast of finishes and colours made the pipe a beautiful addition to my rack. What had been a throwaway was rescued and given a new look. It is now a pipe that I enjoy smoking. If you wish to read more about the process, I have included the link to the blog on the restoration of the pipe. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/10/09/another-frankenpipe-salvaging-a-lido-root-briar-dublin-bowl/

Crafting another Frankenpipe from a broken shanked apple, a piece of briar and a metal tube. The final example is another broken shanked apple. It was a no name pipe with a nice shape on the bowl and a jagged broken shank. I decided to take a totally different tack on this one. I had an old metal flashlight tube that had a cross hatch pattern on the metal. It was an open tube. I had a sacrificial pipe that had a long shank that I cut off and used to make this more of a Lovat style apple. I wanted a pretty indestructible pipe to use while I was working in the yard or the garden. I cut off the broken shank on the apple and topped it to square it up. I turned the other shank that I was using so that it would fit into the metal tube and allow me to use the mortise for a new shorter stem. I joined the bowl and the shank with a piece of stainless tubing. I scored the tubing and epoxied it in the bowl end first then added the shank end to it. Once it cured I used a file to step down the end of the shank on the bowl end so that the tube would fit closer to the bowl staggering the new joint and giving it more stability. I pressed the metal tube on the shank piece until the end was flush with the briar of the bowl. I filled in the gaps with clear super glue to make the transition seamless. I wanted the transition between the metal and the stem to be seamless so I stepped down the end of the stem just past the tenon to sit inside the metal tube. I restained the bowl and polished the vulcanite and the pipe was ready to smoke and it was pretty indestructible. This is yet another example of the lengths that I will go to salvage a pipe that I like or that I see promise in. Here is the link to the blog if you would like to read about the process in detail. https://rebornpipes.com/2015/02/07/pipe-resurrection-from-a-broken-shank-to-another-frankenpipe/

Looking at the various examples above of pipes that have crossed my worktable you can see how I chose to answer the question, “How badly do you want to keep this pipe?” or “How much work are you willing to put into this pipe?” In each case, my decision was that the pipe was worth saving and investing time in whether it was for the sake of repairing a beautiful old pipe or for learning new skills that I could use on other pipes that came to my desk. The decision was not quick or foolish it was made with full awareness of the extent to which I would have to go to bring the pipe back to useable condition. With that I bring this Answers to Questions blog to a close. I hope that this installment has been helpful to you. Have fun crafting what you can out of the broken pieces of the pipes that come your way. Think hard before you throw the pipe in the fire and look beyond the pieces and see if you can imagine a way to make it work. Thanks for reading.

A Few Firsts on a GBD Garland II Calabash 9552


Blog by Aaron Henson

Before you get into this write up, I need to confess that despite my best efforts, I did a poor job of photo documenting this repair and restoration.  I had good intentions, but the project was spread out over two months, working on it as I had time. Because of this, some of the pictures were taken out of sequence and others were chosen that best show a repair but also show repairs that have not yet been covered in the write up.

I realized a while back, that I had not restored a pipe recently that I was really excited about.  There have been a number pipes that have crossed my work table and some have even posed some new challenges but the pipes themselves were hardly memorable. With the pickings at the second hand store in my area being slim – I turned to eBay to see if I could find a project pipe that would peak my interest.  After a few hours of browsing I, found just what I was after: a stemless, GBD Garland II stummel – shape 9552.  I submitted my bid and picked it up for a price that I thought was reasonable.

I don’t typically like to buy pipes on eBay.  I prefer to be able to see them first hand so I know what I am getting myself into.  But in this case the seller was forthcoming in the auction description, revealing that the pipe had a major crack in the bowl and another in the shank and of course, it lacked a stem.  But what really fascinated me was the shape of the stummel and what promised to be some beautiful grain patterns.

The following pictures were from the seller auction page: Wanting an idea of what kind of stem was originally on the pipe, I headed on-line to see what I could find.  My first stop was here at Reborn Pipes.  In a 2016 article, our host, Steve, restored a GBD Colossus Fantasy 9552.  I found additional examples of the 9552 shape in the GBD’s Prehistoric, Prestige and Virgin lines.  In all cases the 9552 originally came with a bent saddle bit – some fancier than others.

These next two pictures are of a Garland II I found online.  I was not going to try to duplicate the band in the stem, but knew I was going to need a band on the shank and that wouldn’t look too bad. Then I ended up at a Pipedia article for GBD Models where I learned that the Garland is a seconds line from GBD. I found this surprising because the Garland that I have and the ones I have seen online are excellent specimens of briar.  Admittedly, my eye is not that experienced, but just from the quality of the briar and the lack of fills and pitting I would guess that the Garland line is GBD’s higher end seconds consisting more of fabrication errors rather than materials flaws.  Can anyone confirm my guess?

Another interesting fact that I note is that the 9552 shape is often stamped with “Colossus”.  The term Colossus was used by GBD as plus sized pipe designation.  This size designation is used on all the GBD lines of pipes, but is lacking on this particular Garland II stummel. When the stummel arrived, I eagerly open the package and began to inspect the damage up close, fearing that some of the worst damage may not have been disclosed.  But the seller’s pictures and description were accurate and I didn’t find hidden issues.  The pipe was indeed big; the bowl height is 2.4 inches and the outside diameter is 1.75 inches. The chamber is 0.96 of an inch in diameter and 1.9 inches deep.

The left side of the shank is stamped GBD in an oval over Garland II.  The left side has the COM (Country of Manufacture) stamp: MADE IN LONDON in a circle over ENGLAND and the shape number to the right: 9552. There was a heavy amount of the lava on the rim and the bevel at the edge of the chamber was a little distorted.  The chamber too seemed to be drilled a little off center.  Perhaps this was the why it was a second?  The chamber had been reamed but not back to briar. The horizontal crack in the bowl was located on the left side and was a little over an inch long.  I suspected that it went all the way through bowl wall but I could not be certain until I finished reaming the chamber.  The crack in the stem was about half an inch long from the end of the shank right through the COM stamp but missing the shape number. Looking the pipe over closely, I noted quite a few dents in the heel of the stummel and handling scratches on the sides of bowl and the rim.  I guessed that this piece of briar had been rattling around in a drawer for some time.Now that I had the stummel in hand I could measure the shank diameter (.610” at the end) and estimate the length that I wanted the new stem to be; about 3-1/4 inches. I took these measurements to the Vermont Freehand website and selected a stem that best fit.  I chose the vulcanite stem blank number 722, a round saddle bit 21/32” diameter and 3-1/16” inches long.  I always order two in case I ruin the first one.  I also ordered four nickel plated shank rings, two 15.5 mm and two 16 mm not being sure which would be the better fit. With the parts on order, I started cleaning up the interior of the stummel.  I reamed the chamber back to bare wood with my Castleford reamer and Decatur pipe knife. I also cleaned the shank alternating with bristled and soft pipe cleaners dipped in 91% isopropyl alcohol.  The last person who tried reaming the chamber must have also ran a pipe cleaner or two through it because it only took five or six pipe cleaners before they started coming out as clean as they went in. The mortise I cleaned with cotton swabs. In all, the stummel was relatively clean. I wiped down the outside of the stummel with alcohol and acetone to remove the grime.  Underneath the dirt and oils was some beautiful straight grain with a birds-eye heel.  I looked closely and could not find any fills.  Next, I addressed the thin crust of dried tars on the rim.  I wetted down a green pad (mine was actually blue and did not work as well as the original green ones) with a mixture of tap water and granulated Oxy-clean.  Placing the pad in a shallow dish, I pressed the rim of the pipe down on the pad and scrubbed in a circular motion.  A little elbow grease and the moist Oxy-clean solution did its job. I dried the stummel with a paper towel and set it aside to dry for a bit.Next, I wanted to remove the ghosts of the previous tobacco that I could still smell in the chamber with an alcohol soak.  I use the cotton ball method because it seems to do the job and is easier to clean up than the salt method. This chamber needed three cotton balls and I used 98% grain alcohol for the soak. I placed a cap over the top of the bowl for the first couple of hours to keep the alcohol from evaporating too fast then I removed the cap so the evaporative action can draw out the tars from the briar.When I got back to it the next day I was disappointed (though not surprised) that the crack in the bowl was wet where alcohol had been seeping through.  At lease now I knew for sure that the crack went all the way through the bowl wall.  The good news was I could easily see the ends of the hairline crack.  I used a dental pick to mark the ends so I could find them later, then I removed the cotton balls and wiped out the chamber with a dry paper towel. I began the crack repair by using a small drill bit (0.5 mm) and hand drilled the stopper holes at the location I marked with the dental pick. Since the crack went completely trough the chamber wall I also drilled the hole all the way through the wall.  I have not dealt with a crack that was this deep before so I was on unfamiliar ground.  I packed the hole the half full with briar dust using a tooth pick then placed a drop of clear CA glue into the hole – coaxing it in with the tooth pick.  I filled the holes up the rest of the way and dripped more glue.  I used a magnifying glass to locate the end of the shank crack and gave it the same treatment.

I unsuccessfully tried working some CA glue into the bowl crack. The glue just seemed to set too fast and did not penetrate the crack.  The shank crack on the other hand I could work open and get the glue to flow into it.  I put a clamp on the shank while the glue set.  Then when dry, I sanded the glued repairs smooth with 220 grit paper, careful not to over sand and change the shape of the pipe or damage the stamping on the shank. I resolved to repair the bowl crack by applying coat of heat resistant epoxy to the inside of the chamber.  In this case I used the two part JB Weld – not the Quick Weld, which is useful for other pipe repairs.  For pipe chamber repairs, I like the original JB Weld epoxy, it is easy to use and when cured it has a 550 degree (F) heat resistance.  It is also easy to sand smooth.  I apply it with my finger because it is much easier to get an even coat.  I highly recommend wearing a pair of powder free Nitrile blue gloves for this operation! By this time the parts from Vermont Freehand arrived and wanted to band the shank. I have fixed a few banded pipes before but never put a band on an unbanded pipe. I tried dry fitting the two different sized bands I had bought.  The smaller band would only just slip on the first fraction of an inch so I was glad I had ordered the next size up. The bands were a bit wider than I wanted because I did not want it to cover up too much of the stamping.  Not sure what to do about the band width, I kept focusing on the seating of the band.  I used a heat gun to heat up the band and get it to expand.  Then with the band resting on a wood block, I pressed the shank down into the ring. The first attempt didn’t go well. The band was a bit cocked and only seated about a quarter of an inch.  I realized that the shank’s taper was going to prevent the band from going on much farther and that was going to resolve the width issue; I was going to have to trim the band.

I removed the band and heated it up again.  I smeared a little CA glue around the end of the shank and was able to seat the band squarely.  This time about 3/8” onto the shank.  Once cool, I used a skinny wheel on a rotary tool to trim of the excess band material and flush it up to the end of the shank.  Although the band covered up the COM stamp and ‘AND II’ of ‘GARLAND II’ it was necessary and it gives the stummel a touch of class. I was pleased that the replacement stem I had chosen seemed to be a good fit although it was going to need some work.  I started by using a fine tooth file to square up the face of the stem so it sits flush to the shank and removing the casting burrs.The tenon on the blank was way oversized as was the body of the stem.  I don’t have a tenon turning tool, so I use my drill press to turn the stem.  Wedging a bamboo skewer into the air hole at the tenon end, I leave about an inch of skewer exposed that I can secure into the chuck of the drill.  Setting the drill to about 1300 RPM I use small pieces of 60 grit sand paper to slowly reduce the diameter of the tenon and the stem until it the correct size. The drill press method works well in theory.  Once in a while the stem slips loose from its friction fit with the skewer and I have to reseat it.  I work the vulcanite with 60, 120 and 220 grit sand paper, leaving the polishing to be done by hand with micromesh pads.

I kept a caliper nearby set at the correct tenon diameter to check my progress.  As I got closer to the correct size, I switched to 120 and 220 grit paper.  But I didn’t switch soon enough!  By the time I got some of the deep scratches of the 60 grit out I had overturned the tenon and it was a hair too small.  I finished turning the body of the stem before addressing the tenon issue.I thought at first that a little bee’s wax on the tenon would be enough to tighten the fit but in the end I had enlarge the tenon.  To do this, I heated the tenon and inserted a drill bit into the air hole to enlarge the tenon.  Letting the tenon cool with the bit in it I checked the fit:  A little too big.  I didn’t want to take anymore material off the tenon because if the tenon gets hot during a smoke it will return to its original size, vulcanite has a memory.  I looked around my tool box and found a small punch that had a slightly smaller diameter than the drill bit and repeated the heating process.  This time the fit was much better.

With the stem fitted it was time to bend the stem.  I have jig for holding round stock and I used this to hold the assembled pipe steady with the bit resting on a 1-1/4” round dowel.  Using my heat gun, I heated the bit until it draped over the dowel.  I dipped the bent stem in water to cool the vulcanite and set the shape.  Then I checked the angle of the bend and had to repeat the process a couple of times until I had what I thought was the original stem shape just right.Stem polishing started with 220 grit to remove the remainder of the casting burrs.  Then I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 – 4000.I removed the plastic guard after the 2400 pad.  I used the 3200 and higher micromesh pads to also polish the band.After the 4000 pad I coated the stem with mineral oil and let it sit for a few hours.  Then I finish polishing with pads 6000 to 12000. I started finishing the stummel by giving it a steam treatment to raise the dents and handling damage.  Holding a wet terry cloth rag on the briar I press a hot iron on to it.  This method works very well but I have two points of caution: 1) don’t burn your fingers in the steam; and 2) do not press the iron near the stamping, it will ruin stamping very quickly.  I only apply the iron around the bowl body and the heel where the dents are the worst anyway.

I sanded the stummel with micromesh pads 1500 through 3200, with special attention paid to the rim to make sure it was smooth.  I selected Fiebing’s dark brown aniline dye to better hide the repairs and applied the stain, without dilution, using a cotton swab straight from the bottle.  I used a flame to heat and set the stain.  I wiped down the stummel with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the excess stain.  I kept wiping it down until the level of color was what I thought it should be. After staining the stummel I like to refresh the briar with a light coat of mineral oil and let the oil soak in overnight.  All of the alcohol in the stain and the wiping down tends to dry out the stummel and I find the mineral oil helps to bring some of the life back to the briar.  It also seems to give the finished pipe a healthy look.After the oil soaked in, I polished the briar with the 3200 – 6000 micromesh pads.  Wiping it down with a clean cloth when finished.I took the assembled pipe back to my drill press/buffing station and ran over the entire pipe with red diamond polishing compound.  Two or three passes of the pipe seems to prepare the pipe well for the final finish.  I wiped the pipe down with a microfiber cloth to remove the buffing compound and then changed the buffing wheel for the waxing wheel.  Three coats of carnauba wax put a nice shine on the pipe.

The last step in this restoration was the bowl coat.  I had earlier sanded the epoxy chamber repair and wiped out the bowl with alcohol so the inside was relatively smooth.  I mixed up a small batch of bowl coat using 2 teaspoons of sour cream and about three activated charcoal capsules.  This made a thick, black, creamy paste that I spooned into the chamber with a wood spatula made from a popsicle stick. Donning the Nitrile gloves again, I used my finger to evenly spread the coating around the inside of the chamber. Wiping the excess coating off the rim with a cotton pad I set the pipe aside to dry for a few days.

Now am I looking forward to the weather warming up so I can break in this pipe.  I think it might become one in my regular rotation. Thank you for sharing in my adventure. If you like the tamper in the picture above, it is one that I made and is for sale.  Please see the Reborn Pipes Store page for it and other tampers.  All proceeds go to charity.

 

 

 

 

 

Repairing a cracked shank on an older Brigham 117 Patent Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

Not long ago I received a message on the blog from a pipeman in Alberta regarding an older Brigham pipe that he had that was in great shape and had a long hairline crack in the shank from the bottom of the left side up through the stamping into the middle of “i” in Brigham. It caused the stem to be loose and he was worried about it continuing to crack across the rest of the shank. I was pretty certain it could be fixed but would need to be banded. The pipe is stamped Brigham over Can. Pat. 372982 on the left side of the shank and shape number 117 on the flattened underside of the shank near the bowl/shank junction. He sent me the following three photos to show the position of the crack in the shank. He circled them in red to make them clear. He took photos of the side of the shank against a green and a black background to make the crack very visible. He also sent an end shot to show the crack from that vantage point. Almost incidentally he also did made the patent number also visible in his photos. I wrote Charles Lemon of Dadspipes as he is my go to source for all things Brigham and asked him about the pipe. He said that the patent stamp dates it between 1938-1955. Based on it being a one dot and a smooth finish, he said it was probably closer to 38 than 55. He also said that the shape 17 (or in this case 117) is what Brigham called a round Bulldog. I took photos of the pipe when I took it out of the box. It was well restored and very clean. The finish was in great shape. The stamping was very clear with a little wear at the middle of the Brigham stamp. The single brass dot on the stem side was clear. The vulcanite stem looked very clean and polished. There was a little rounding to the side of the stem at the stem/shank union but it was really pretty clean. There were some small tooth dents in the stem but the stem looked good. The rim top was clean and the entire pipe was clean and ready to smoke. I took photos of the bowl/rim top and the stem to show the condition it was in when it arrived. It really looks good. You can see the damaged areas on the inside edge of the rim and the marks on the stem but it still is very nice. I took two photos to show the crack as it appeared without a lens. The first shows the end of the shank. It is on the lower left side of the photo. The second shows it on the side of the shank. I circled them in red to highlight the location.Looking it over in a bright light with a lens I knew that I would need to drill a small hole at the end of the crack. The hard thing was that the end of the crack was in the letter “i” on Brigham. I would also need to band the shank to keep it from splitting and fortify the shank when the stem was inserted. I took a band that was the right diameter for the shank out of my box of bands.I used the end of a small screw, pressed into the end of the crack to mark the pilot hole for the drill. I inserted a tiny microdrill bit in the chuck of my Dremel and set the speed to 5. I started the drill and slowly drilled the hole in the middle of the letter to stop the crack from spreading further.I used the tip of a dental pick to place a small drop of Krazy Glue (CA) in the hole I had drilled in the shank. It was a tiny hole so it did not take too much glue to fill in the hole. I put a tiny drop of glue on the crack that was going to be covered by the band and pressed it together to bind the crack and seal it.I used a very small sanding stick to spot sand the repair on the shank. I was able to smooth out the repair without damaging the surrounding letters on the stamping. I put a little all-purpose glue on the surface of the shank that would be covered by the band and pressed the band in place. I pressed it far enough onto the shank to provide the strengthening of the shank but did not cover up any of the stamping on the side of the shank. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to sand the excess length of the band back until it extended just beyond the end of the shank. I topped the band edge with the topping board to smooth it out. I used micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the sharp edge of the band and to polish the band. I took a photo of the shank end and repair after the band had been pressed in place. The crack on the shank end is invisible now. The crack on the shank side and up into the Brigham stamp is pressed tightly together making it less visible.The repair was finished. The stem now fit snug in the shank. The new band on the shank looked really good and dressed up the pipe. I polished the pipe on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to remove scratches on the bowl, shank, band and stem. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It looks better than it did in the beginning. The pipe is finished and I will be sending it back to Alberta a little later this week. I am hoping the pipeman there enjoys it. Thanks for looking.

Repairing a broken shank and crooked alignment on a Joh’s Churchwarden


Blog by Steve Laug

I received an email a few weeks ago from a fellow in Vancouver named Chris, asking if I would have a look at a cracked shank on his Joh’s churchwarden. He figured that it was not repairable but wanted to know if I would cut back the broken shank and refit the stem. I asked him to send me some photos of the damaged shank so I could see it myself. He sent me two photos of the pipe – one from the left side and the other from the top. The photos showed some extensive damage to the shank. There were cracks on the top, the bottom, the right and the left side of the shank. There was a large chunk of briar missing on the left side of the shank. It also appeared to me that the diameter of the stem was smaller than the diameter of the shank and that the stem sat toward the left side of the shank.Chris brought the pipe by my office for me to have a look at. We sat in my office and he went over the pipe with me. It was a nice looking pipe with two rusticated panels on the left side of the bowl and the rest of the bowl and rim were smooth. The pipe was in good shape other than the broken shank. The rim had some darkening and oils on the back side. The stem was in excellent condition with no tooth marks at all on either side. We made the decision to work on it and see what I could do repairing the damage. I took photos of the pipe when I brought it home from work and put it on the work table.I took close up photos of the cracked and broken shank. You can see the extensive damage and the difference in the diameter of the shank and the stem. I used a microdrill bit on the Dremel and drilled pin holes at the end of each crack to stop the cracks from spreading further.I used a combination of super glue and briar dust applied in layers to build up area where there was a missing chunk of briar in the left side of the shank. I built it up until the missing chunk was replaced with the mixture. It was not pretty but it was better than it was when I started the process.I sanded the repair with a sanding drum on my Dremel. The sanding drum smoothed out the repair on the exterior of the shank. The next series of three photos show the repaired area of the shank. I used a needle file to smooth out the inside of the mortise and to begin to return it to round. I would do more work on that once I had pressure fit a nickel band on the shank. I heated the nickel band with a Bic lighter to expand it and pressed it onto the shank of the pipe until the edge of the band and the edge of the shank end were even.I remembered that I had not filled in the pinholes that I had drilled. I used clear super glue and a tooth pick to put a bead of glue on top of each pin hole. When the glue had dried I sanded the shank repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper until they were blended into the surface of the briar.I polished the sanded areas of the briar and the dirty top of the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the shank down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I used a medium brown stain pen to touch up the sanded areas around the shank. The medium brown blended perfectly with the existing stain. I polished the bowl and shank with 3200-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding dust on the surface after each pad. Before I took photos of the polished stummel after using the 12000 grit pad, I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the pipe on the buffer with a clean buffing pad to give it a shine. The polished pipe is shown in the photos below. I took close up photos of the shank repair and band to show the look of the repaired shank. If you look closely you can see the repaired cracks and the tiny pinholes but the pipe looks very good with the new nickel band and blended stain. I reshaped the mortise with needle files and built up the left side of the tenon with clear super glue to move the stem toward the centre of the shank. Once I had finished the alignment was far better than when I started and the stem looks more centred in the shank. I used a tooth pick and super glue to fill in the gap between the band and the right side of the shank. You can see from the photo that the shank was not round but more oval and slanted to the left. With the band and the repair the shank is round and the mortise end looks far better.I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it. I used a very light touch on the rusticated portions of the left side of the bowl. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe is well proportioned with the following dimensions Length: 10 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. I think Chris will be happy to see one of his favourite pipes returned to his rotation looking better than when he left it with. Chris if you read this – tell us what you think. Enjoy. Thanks for looking.

Giving New Life to a KBB Yello Bole Imperial 3068C


Blog by Mike Rochford

In the last two weeks, I have been corresponding with Mike about a pipe he had. He wrote and sent photos of it and asked if I thought it was repairable. Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while know that I rarely put a pipe in the bin to burn. We wrote back and forth as he did the work and he sent photos along the way. I asked if he would mind doing a blog on the refurb job he did. He sent me the following. Without further introduction, I will let Mike tell you about himself and then share his work with us. Welcome Mike.

First a bit about me. I am a retired FBI Special Agent of 30 years. My grandfather had a wood pattern shop in downtown Chicago. I always enjoyed woodworking projects, but never had much time for complicated projects. This project was pretty easy as long as I did not hurry each step. Patience and your guidance helped me a lot. I am now pretty confident that I can handle another project if one comes along. – Mike

My brother Tim bought me a very worn out KBB YELLO Bole Imperial 3068C pipe. He knew I loved its look. But its issues were many: gaping hole in bowl, rotting wood on ferrule, bite marks on stem, and a slight tool mark on the crowned our area of the stem below the Yellow circle.

I was prepared to throw the pipe out or just relegate it to a shelf. But I found Steve Laug on rebornpipes. He advised me step by step how to restore and make my pipe smokeable again.

First, I completely cleaned out the inside of bowl down to the briar in order to relieve pressure on the crack in the bowl. Then I used a 1/32 drill bit to drill out the bottom of the crack.  I stripped and cleaned the outside of the pipe and combined briar dust with super glue and filled in the crack on the outside of the bowl. I was surprised that the chemical reaction caused a flash fire on my first try. But I worked through that. The paste dries very fast so I had to apply it to the crack quickly, using a Popsicle stick.  I then let it set. Then I applied JBWeld for wood to the cracked area inside of the bowl. I put a pipe cleaner inside the opening to ensure no weld found its way into the airway blocking up my smoking end of the bowl. I let that dry and set it aside for the evening. Then I used 500 grit sand paper on the outside and inside of my bowl. Once I was satisfied, I applied Aniline dye stain to the outside of the bowl and painted the inside of my bowl with a charcoal powder/ sour cream paste.Next, I worked on the cracked and damaged shank end using the 1/32nd inch bit on the end of the cracks in wood and my super glue briar dust paste to fix the damaged areas. Sanding it after it set.I then used the charcoal powder and super glue paste to patch up the bite marks on my stem, using a pipe cleaner with Vaseline on it to ensure it did not super glue my stem closed. I used some 800 grit sand paper to buff the entire stem clean of oxidation and to clean off excess super glue charcoal powder once it dried. I also used the 800 grit sand paper to clean up the tool marks on my stem below the Yellow circle. I did not have any obsidian oil, so I used some sesame seed oil on my stem to slick it up. I also super glued the silver metal ferrule on the end of the shank as it was much too loose. I then resanded and repasted the inside of my pipe bowl.

I sent before and after pictures to Steve. I am very pleased and thankful to Steve Laug for guiding me through this process. My pipe is truly “Reborn!” Thanks!