Tag Archives: Replacing a Tenon in a vulcanite stem

An Odd Yello Bole Imperial Nosewarmer Canadian worth saving


Blog by Steve Laug

The second pipe that Troy Wilburn sent me to restem was a short Canadian with a large bowl. It was a bit of an odd pipe – no shape number and no catalogue shape that matched it. It was almost like a Canadian that had been cut off somewhere along the way. However it was sent out from the factory like this. It is stamped on the top rolling down the left side of the shank with the older KBB in a cloverleaf. Next to that it reads Yello Bole. Underneath it reads cured with real honey and an R in a circle. Underneath that is stamped Imperial in Script with small block letters reading IMPORTED BRIAR.

It came to Troy as New Old Stock or NOS – unsmoked pipe. It had a strange tenon repair that someone had made some time in its history. The tenon had broken off in the shank and rather than remove it, the decision had been made to leave it in the shank. In the first photo below you can see the broken tenon and at the end of it is the YB stinger apparatus still sitting in the shank. There was a notch taken out of the shank on the left underside near the end of the mortise and in the mortise end. The repair that had been made was to smooth out the end of the stem and insert a stainless steel rod in the stem. The rod was the same diameter as the inside of the tenon. Effectively it was like the repair I did on Troy’s other pipe. The problem with this one was the very constricted draw due to the narrow airway constricted by the tenon. With the notch in the end of the mortise the fit of the stem against the shank was also compromised. This pipe was going to be a bear to get all of the alignments straight. The airway drilled in the stem for the metal tenon was slightly off centre and a little angular. The notch in the shank would need to be corrected or removed. The fit in the shank would need to be adjusted. You can see that this NOS pipe would take a bit of creativity to reconstruct.YB1 I began the reconstruction of a new tenon by addressing the constricted airway and broken tenon in the shank of the pipe. I used a drill bit that fit well against the end of the tenon that was stuck in the shank and slowly drilled into the broken tenon. My hope was that the drill bit would catch on the material of the tenon and I would be able to back it out of the shank. It worked on the first try. The bit stuck in the bit and I reversed the direction of the drill and the broken tenon came out on the drill bit. Once it was free I was able to shake out the stinger from the airway and the shank was clear. This unsmoked pipe now had an unconstricted airway. The first part of the repair had gone off without a hitch.YB2 The next photo shows the parts that were in the shank. The broken tenon piece and the spoon shaped stinger are to the left of the end of the shank. You can also see the short metal tenon that had been inserted in the stem end.YB3 I gripped the end of the metal tenon with needle nosed pliers and wiggled it free of the stem. It had not been glued but rather heated and inserted deep in the airway of the stem. With very little effort I was able to remove the tube from the stem. The next two photos give two different views of the tenon and the end of the stem. You can see in the second photo that the airway had been drilled open to take the metal tube tenon. It would not take much to open it slightly larger to put a repair tenon in place.YB4

YB5 With the airway opened I decided to address the notch out of the end of the shank. I did this by using super glue and briar dust to build up the shank end. The trick was to keep the glue isolated to the shank end and not let it run on the finish of the shank bottom.YB6 I carefully put a few drops of glue in the notch and then packed in briar dust with a dental pick. I repeated this process until I had built up the notch slightly higher than the flat end of the shank. I then used the topping board and carefully stood the pipe against the sandpaper and slowly worked the filled area smooth with the paper. I repeated the process until the area was evenly built up and the notch was gone. There remained a little darkening at the edge of the repair on the bottom edge of the shank end but the notch was gone. Once the stem is repaired and is in place the notch will be virtually invisible. I cleaned up any of the glue bits and briar dust in the shank with the dental pick and a sharp knife.YB7

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YB9 The next three photos show the shank end from different angles to show the state of the repair at this point in the process. It still needs to be cleaned up and touched up once the stem is fit in the shank, however the notch itself is virtually gone and the stem (sans tenon) sits smoothly against the shank end.YB10

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YB12I decided that rather than wait for a new tenon to arrive I would make my own. I had a very small stem that I knew would work well to fashion a tenon. I used a hacksaw to cut off a portion of the stem to use for the tenon. I purposely cut it long to give me material to work with.YB13

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YB15 The cut off portion is shown in the photo below. I held the smaller portion in the tip of a pair of needle nose pliers and used the Dremel with a sanding drum to bring down the larger portion to match the smaller one. I would sand until I had a vulcanite tenon that I could insert into the stem.YB16

YB17 Here is a photo of the shop “foreman” sitting in my chair while I worked on the tenon. Spencer loves to hang out with me while I work.YB18 The thinner part of the tenon in the photo below will be the part I insert in the stem once it is drilled out. The larger part will need to be turned down to fit in the mortise.YB19

YB20 I started by using a drill bit that was slightly larger than the airway that had been opened in the stem for the metal tenon. I worked my way up to a drill bit that would open the airway and deep enough to take the new tenon and provide stability.YB21 When I had drilled the opening in the stem as large as I could, given the taper of the stem I needed to take down the diameter of the replacement tenon I had made. I used a Dremel to take off the excess material to reduce it to the same size as the stem opening. Once I got close in diameter with the Dremel I hand sanded it to fit.YB22

YB23 When the tenon end fit snugly in the stem, I squared off the end of the tenon and then superglued it in place in the stem. I coated the tenon with the glue and pressed it into place. The tenon itself would also need to be turned to fit the shank of the pipe.YB24 I used the Dremel and sanding drum to sand down the tenon and then used sand paper to get a snug fit.YB25 Once it fit well I polished it with fine grit sanding sponges and micromesh.YB26 The fit in shank was good and snug. It was at this point that the alignment issues became clear. I would need to do some work on the shank to clean up the repair and also get a good transition from the shank to the stem. The fit on the topside was slightly high and the fit on the underside was a little low. I needed to sand the shank anyway to clean up the repaired notch on the underside so to sand it a bit more was not an issue.YB28 I sanded the shank and stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the transition between the two and to give a better flow to the taper on the stem.YB28

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YB31 I sanded the stem and shank with a medium and a fine grit sanding block to make the transition smooth and remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper.YB32

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YB35 Once the transition was smooth I sanded the briar with micromesh sanding pads from 2400-4000 grit and then used the Guardsman brand stain pens to stain the shank. I used the lightest stain pen first and finished with the medium stain pen. Once it dried I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond to raise the shine on the shank and to even out the stain.YB36

YB37 I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I buffed the stem with White Diamond and Blue Diamond and then buff the shank with the same once again.YB38

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YB40 I buffed the stem and the shank with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax. I finished by buffing it with a soft flannel buffing pad. The finished pipe is shown below.YB41

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YB44 The next two photos show a close up of the fit of the stem to the shank. I am pleased with the way it turned out.YB45

YB46 The last two photos are of a regular sized Yello Bole Canadian (top pipe) and the little nose warmer (bottom pipe). I put these together to give a bit of perspective. The bowl on the nose warmer is larger and the shank is definitely shorter.YB47

YB48 Thanks Troy for the challenge on this little Canadian. It was a pleasure to work on it. Each time I work on putting a new tenon on a pipe I learn something new. This time around, between the new tenon on the billiard, the insert in the cracked shank and the new tenon on this little one I had a good week in pipe school. They will soon be on their way back to you Troy. I hope they smoke well and you enjoy them.

The Resurrection of an old KBB Yello-Bole Premier Panel


Blog by Steve Laug

In a recent trade with Andrew Selking I received an older KBB Yello Bole Paneled billiard. When I removed it from the box there was something about the older KBB Panel that grabbed my attention. It was stamped on the left side of the shank with the familiar KBB logo and the Yello-Bole next to it. Underneath that it bore the stamp Reg. US Pat. Off. Directly below that was stamped Premier over Cured with Real Honey. The pipe had been repaired at some time in its ragged existence with what appeared to be a homemade repair job. The tenon had broken somewhere along the line and a previous owner had drilled out the stem and used a piece of stainless steel tubing to make a new tenon. The metal tenon was stuck in the shank of the pipe and the stem just sat loosely on it. The fit of the stem to the shank was off with the stem sitting high and to the right. The previous owner had tried to compensate for the off centered stem by sanding flat spots on the stem sides and bottom that broke the smooth lines of the square shank and stem. There were two small hairline cracks on the shank – top right and bottom left that would need to be repaired once the tenon was removed. The bowl was out of round with damage to the inner edge of the rim and a tarry build-up on the surface. The outer edge rim crown of the bowl was also compromised and would need some work. The stem was not too badly oxidized but it had tooth marks on the top and bottom near the button.YB1

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YB3 Background Information
I wrote about the history of the KBB stamped Yello-Bole Pipes. The following link will give you the details: https://rebornpipes.com/2014/07/21/renewing-an-old-kbb-yello-bole-honey-cured-briar-billiard/
Yello-Bole pipes are one of my favorite older US brands doing the research would be enjoyable. As with other early brands made in the states I have found that older is better. A KBB in a cloverleaf stamp will date them back to the ’30’s. I have found through my reading that the 4 digit shape numbers are older than 2 digit ones. The pipes with the logo on top of the stem are older than ones that have them on the side. That is just some of the information that I found with a cursory read through the forums and a variety of websites.

The SM Frank website http://www.smfrankcoinc.com/home/?page_id=2 gives a wealth of historical information on Kaywoodies, Yello-Boles and the merger between KBB and SM Frank and later Demuth. It was a great read and I would encourage others to give the website a read. I also wanted to find some help in dating my old Yello-Bole Pipes and I came across this link to the Kaywoodie Forum: http://kaywoodie.myfreeforum.org/archive/dating-yello-bole-pipes__o_t__t_86.html . I am including some of the information I found there as it gives the only information that I found in my hunt to this point.
“…there isn’t a lot of dating information for Yello-Bole pipes but here is what I have learned so far.

– If it has the KBB stamped in the clover leaf it was made 1955 or earlier as they stopped the stamping after being acquired by S.M. Frank.
– From 1933-1936 they were stamped Honey Cured Briar.
– Pipes stems stamped with the propeller logo they were made in the 30s or 40s no propellers were used after the 40s.
– Yello-Bole also used a 4 digit code stamped on the pipe in the 30s.
– If the pipe had the Yello-Bole circle stamped on the shank it was made in the 30s this stopped after 1939.
– If the pipe was stamped BRUYERE rather than briar it was made in the 30s.”
Given the above information I discovered that the pipe I was working on was made sometime between 1930 and 1940. Thus it was an early Yello-Bole from the 1930s or 40s.

Restoration Process

I took the stem off the bowl and tried to remove the inserted metal tenon. It was firmly stuck in place and I could not move it even with pliers. I put the bowl in the freezer overnight hoping that the cold would contract the metal and briar differently (as is the case with the varied material and density). In the morning I took it out of the freezer and was able to turn the tenon out of the shank with pliers. Once it was removed it was clear to see that it had not been glued in the shank but merely stuck with the tars and oils of the tobacco in the shank.YB4 I found a threaded Delrin tenon in my box of tenon parts and it was a workable replacement for the metal tenon. I tapped the drilled out hole in the stem and screwed the threaded tenon into the hole. It was a perfect fit. I removed it once again and put some glue on the threads and screwed it into place and let the glue set. The diameter of the tenon would need to be adjusted as it was too big for the mortise. This was actually ideal in that I would be able to adjust the fit against the shank on the sides and the top. The bottom of the shank would take work to make a smooth transition.YB5

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YB10 I sanded the tenon with a Dremel and sanding drum to remove the excess Delrin. I hand sanded it with 180 grit and 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out and fine tune the fit. I spread the hairline cracks with a dental pick and dripped superglue along the cracks and pressed them together until the glue set.YB11 The stem fit in the shank nicely. The photos below show the damage that had been done to the stem in the previous repair. It is especially visible in the photos of the pipe from the side and the bottom. The stem had been modified to the misfit of the previous tenon so work would need to be done to realign the fit against the end of the shank.YB12

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YB17 I sanded the bottom, top and right side of the shank until the transition between the briar and the vulcanite was smooth. The left side was touchier in that I did not want to damage the stamping. I sanded this area while covering the stamping. The trick was to smooth out the transition without making a drastic dip in the briar – it just needed to be re-tapered until it flowed naturally into the stem. Sanding the top of the stem also took care as it had the insert of the white propeller. Too much sanding on the top would damage and compromise the insert. The photos below show the newly sanded and tapered shank/stem. I sanded with 220 grit sandpaper, medium and fine grit sanding sponges and a fine grit sanding block. I sanded the rim and curves of the rim with the same sandpapers. I folded a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and worked on the out of round bowl to clean it up as much as possible.YB18

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YB21 I wiped the bowl and shank down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the finish from the bowl.YB22

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YB25 I cleaned out the bowl and shank with isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I cleaned out the stem as well at the same time. I sanded the bite marks on the top and bottom of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to minimize the damage and remove the tooth chatter. There were still some tooth marks that needed to be repaired.YB26

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YB30 I scrubbed the areas around the bite marks with alcohol to clean the sanding dust and grit from around them. I then used black superglue to fill the bite marks and sprayed it with and activator/accelerator to harden it.YB31

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YB34 When it dried I sanded the filled areas with 220 grit sandpaper to level them out with the surface of the stem. I sanded the stem with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge and a fine grit sanding block to further blend the patches into the stem surface. In the next two photos the patches are blended into the stem but the blackness of the super glue and the blackness of the unpolished stem do not match so they show up as spots on the stem.YB35

YB36 I stained the bowl and shank with a medium brown aniline stain thinned 50/50 with isopropyl alcohol. I wanted a medium brown wash to highlight the grain and show contrast in the finish. The wash provided just what I was looking for.YB37

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YB41 I sanded the stem further with fine grit sanding blocks and also sanded the flat areas on the transition between the shank and stem to work towards a more seamless look. The next photos show the smooth transition and the smooth stem. The patches are fading more into the vulcanite of the stem as well at this point in the process.YB42

YB43 I moved on to sand the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed down the stem between each set of three pads with Obsidian Oil and then continued sanding. I have found that sanding the stem while the oil is freshly applied allows the grit on the pads to cut into the finish and raise a shine.YB44

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YB46The next two photos show the finished stem. After the final sanding I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and let it soak in before polishing it with the buffer. I gave it several coats of carnauba wax. The patches on the stem by this point are fully blended into the vulcanite and cannot be identified.YB47

YB48 The next photo shows the reworked inner edge of the rim to show my repairs on the out of round bowl. I sanded until it was as close to round as I could get it by hand. I bevelled the inner edge of the bowl with the sandpaper to make the transition smooth.YB49 The finished pipe is shown below. Thanks to Andrew for sending me this challenge. I really enjoyed bringing this old timer back to life. It will occupy a special spot in my older American pipe maker collection and join my other KBB Yello-Boles as favourites that I enjoy smoking. I buffed it with White Diamond and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and finished by buffing it with a soft flannel buffing pad to raise the shine. All that remains is to sit back and enjoy a bowl of an aged Virginia tobacco and read a good story!YB50

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