Tag Archives: Troy Wilburn articles

Preserving Two LHS Advertising Pokers

Blog by Troy Wilburn
Troy originally posted this to the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forums. You can read the original post and the responses to his work at the following link: http://drgrabows.myfreeforum.org/sutra129300.php#129300

I picked up both of these rare early 20th Century (I would guess just after WW1 to mid-20’s) LHS pokers made for companies to advertise their services and goods. I imagine few of these survived as they were given away to the public and most likely company employees. They were smoked until they were worn out or broken and then thrown away.

The first poker model is one that I have seen before on an old post from 2010 on Tamp and Puff (http://tampandpuff.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1119). I have drooled over that for a couple of years now hoping to find one and I did . Mine is not as nice as that one but happy to have it just the same. I have not found any more pictures of or posting of another before or since. When this one came on EBay I knew I had to have it. Luckily there wasn’t much interest because of the way the seller posted it.

The first poker is marked Warner Sand Gravel Lime Products Est 1794. The shank is stamped Italian Briar (mine is double stamped) with LHS logo.LHS1

LHS2 More pics of the pipe as it arrived to me. Worst condition problems of pipe were bad tooth marks on the stem and shank’s stampings are worn. It was also really greasy and dirty but not caked up and in otherwise good shape with no major damage.LHS3

LHS4 It’s missing its unique stinger that luckily was still in the other poker I acquired. With the rarity of the pipe I decided to preserve what I had and do little more than just a good cleaning. The pipe really had a lot of grime and greasy feel. I gave it a good cleaning inside and out and removed most of the rim scorching with Oxy Clean and Scotch Brite pad. It could have used a slight topping but I decided not to as I’m preserving the pipe not restoring it. Plus I was afraid it would mess up the symmetry of the pipe rim design. I also gave the rest of the bowl several scrubbings with mild detergent and a soft bristle tooth brush. Wiping it down after with paper towels till the paper towels wiped clean afterwards.LHS5

LHS6 I gave the stem a good scrubbing as well Oxy Clean and water as I dipped the end of the tenon in alcohol to test it and it acted like it would melt the rubber. After cleaning I dipped the button end of stem in very hot water to raise the tooth marks best I could. I then filed the stem to get rid of almost all the tooth marks without compromising the structure of it.LHS7 After wet sanding stem to sand out file marks I sanded rim and stem with 2500 grit and mineral oil and wiped rest of pipe down with mineral oil as well.LHS8 After some light buffing and wax.LHS9






LHS15 The second Poker is marked Bird Archer Co. NY. It’s a company that sold chemicals that was used in water for steam locomotives. They were in business from around start of 20th century till end of WW2. Shank stamped same as other – Italian Briar over LHS logo.LHS16


LHS18 This one has the unique stinger. I can tell you it made cleaning the shank and stem a breeze as most all the tar was in the stinger. It runs from the bottom of the bowl to about center of the stem.LHS19 The pipe pretty much got the same cleaning treatment as the above pipe with less work on the stem as there were not bad tooth marks. When I buffed the pipe I did not use the buffer on the embossed stampings but instead hand buffed to avoid causing any damage to them.LHS20 Finished Bird Archer pipe.LHS21







LHS28 I had been looking for an all original LHS poker for a long time and to find both of these original ones at once was very lucky.

An Easy Restoration of a Bertram Grade 60 217 Poker

Blog by Troy Wilburn

I have been looking for a nice upper grade (Grade 50 or above) Bertram Poker for a while. I had almost purchased a couple of lower grades and one 50 grade but they were all either to expensive or pretty beat up, so I kept holding out for the right one. When this nice example of a 60 grade came across my path for a modest price I knew my patience had paid off.

This makes my 2nd Bertram pipe. The other being a straight Cutty and it is an excellent smoker. They are some of my highest end estate pipes. I very much like the quality of them and the long interesting history they have.

If you don’t know much about them I recommend doing a little research on them. Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. They graded their pipes by 10s, the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I’ve never heard of or seen a 100 grade. Here is a link with some brief history of Bertram pipes on Pipedia.

I found this image of from a page of a Bertram pipe booklet that shows the poker shape number of 217.
http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram Bertram1 This is what the pipe looked like when I received it. Other than being dirty it’s in excellent shape. It’s hard to put a date on it but it’s at least from the 70s and maybe as far back as 40s or more. Bertram started in 1927.Bertram2



Bertram5 I started by cleaning out the bowl and shank. The cake came out very easily and the cleaning was not that difficult.Bertram6 I then cleaned and stripped off old wax and rim residue with Oxy Clean, warm water, cotton balls and a Scotch Brite pad on the rim.Bertram7 I then wet sanded the bowl with mineral oil and 1200 to 2500 grit sandpaper.Bertram8 After soaking the stem for a couple of hours in Oxy Clean and warm water I scrubbed off all the surface oxidation with a Scotch Brite pad.Bertram9 I had a couple of small tooth marks to file out.Bertram10 Then I wet sanded the stem with 400-2500 grit paper.Bertram11 The stem was fitting rather tight so I applied some bee’s wax to the tenon.Bertram12 The bowl and stem back together with a mineral oil applied and wiped off for a quick inspection before buffing.Bertram13 I gave it a quick buff with some brown Tripoli before applying some white Tripoli then many coats of carnauba wax.Bertram14 After applying wax and finished pipe.Bertram15






Bertram21 There was one small flaw in the briar. I decided to leave it as is.Bertram22 Very nice stampings on pipe.Bertram23



Bertram26 All in all it was a very simple refurbish due to its condition. I’m very happy with the way it turned out and have intentions of adding at least one more Bertram to my collection. Hopefully a large straight billiard.

Spiffing up a KBB Blue Line Bakelite Poker 1908-1914

Blog by Troy Wilburn

Here is my old KBB I got from EBay after some light cleaning and buffing. I had found out these were quite rare and was lucky to win the bid on it.

I was thinking after some initial research that these pipes were from around 1910 – early 1920s. Seems it’s a little older than I thought. I got this info from a Kaywoodie and early KBB collector who has had several Blue Lines.

“Your pipe is made by Kaufman Brothers and Bondy, or KB&B, which later (1915) created the Kaywoodie line we all know. But this pipe is Pre-Kaywoodie, as they were making pipes under the KB&B branding from about 1900 to 1914. Bakelite was invented in 1907, so this pipe was likely made from 1908 to 1914, as the Bakelite was quite the technological wonder of the time, and was used in many products (still in use today). These “Blue Line Bakelite” pipes are rare pieces, seldom seen.”

All Blue Lines came with a case but sadly the one for this one is missing. Most pics I’ve seen so far of the Blue Lines, the metal banding has stampings of Sterling Silver and KBB. Mine has none and I don’t believe it’s silver (I think nickel as I could not get all the discoloration from it). Mine may be a lower priced model.

The pipe as it arrived.Blue1 The pipe was in remarkable shape for its age. It was not caked up and the pipe was nice and clean, ready to smoke. All I did was go over it very lightly with some 2500 grit and 000 steel wool over the banding lightly. Then I applied some light buffing and a new coat of wax. The pipe was too original to mess with much .The stem has a gorgeous red color that was bought out with a little brown and then white Tripoli before waxing.Blue2





Blue7 The stampings are very nice for a 100 year old pipe. As you can see it looks like it was repaired once. The repair looks quite old in person and don’t think it was done anytime recently.Blue8

Blue9 It’s a smaller poker. It is in between the size of a Medico Poker and a Dr.Grabow 85 Poker. It’s around 4 11/16 inch long with a 1 1/2 tall bowl. I will probably dedicate it to my new favorite flake tobacco.Blue10

A Hand Made Marvic & Purdy Billiard 15

Blog by Troy Wilburn

A short time back I was doing one of my favorite past times and that’s scanning for pipes on eBay. I spotted this Charatan and was just infatuated with it. The shape, style and blast just really drew my attention but I knew that it was beyond my budget.Blast1 So I got the idea to contact a friend of mine on the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum, Gary Balestrieri Jr. Gary is a truck driver and a pipe carver who owns Marvic Pipes. I asked him if he could carve me a pipe based on that Charatan but unfinished. I suggested a narrow yellow acrylic band instead of a metal band as the only major change. To my happiness he agreed.

I then contacted another friend of mine from the forum, Carl Purdy, who does some fine sand blast work on pipes. I have posted some of his work before on here on the Jobey Lumberman I restored and he sandblasted.

With both on board to do the work for me, it was agreed that the pipe would be mailed to Carl after Gary carved it and then mailed to me and I would put the finish on it.

Well I got it in the mail last Saturday and I must say that I was giddy at such nice work they both did on this pipe for me. Gary nailed the shape and Carl did a masterful job on the blast. I’m very proud of both of them and honored to own this pipe now. I now have a pipe that to me is a 100 times better than that Charatan and it cost me half the price that pipe sold for. It was made with care by two friends and I consider that the most important aspect of his pipe.

This is what the pipe looked like when it arrived in the mail.Blast2



Blast5 I was expecting just a plain yellow band on the stem but Gary used some kind of acrylic that changes from black to yellow. It was an unexpected and nice touch.

I was just going to stain the pipe a plain jet black, but after seeing the blast I decided to see if I could do a kind of Dunhill Shell look to make it more interesting and high end looking. The first thing I did was carve a holder out of a corn dog stick – nothing but the best high end equipment on my kitchen table you know. Then I wiped it down with 91% alcohol to make sure that there were no contaminants on the briar. I also rubbed the bowl with a Scotch Brite pad to soften the sharp edges on the blast.Blast6 I then did some contrast staining on the stamping using a black sharpie as I wanted the stampings to stand out. I was also glad to see both Gary and Carl’s name stamped on the pipe. That was another very nice touch.Blast7 Then I wet sanded the smooth area with very lightly using 91% alcohol.Blast8 Then to make sure that the dye would not penetrate too deeply and turn the whole smooth area black I took mineral oil and painted it on with a Q tip.Blast9 I mixed up some black RIT dye and applied several coats to the bowl until it suited me.Blast10 I set the pipe to dry in my high tech drying rack disguised as a cardboard box.Blast11 I wiped down the bowl with mineral oil and checked over the colour. It looked good. Now it was ready for some wax.Blast12 I buffed it kind of heavy on the first coat to take some color off and to get that shell look to the briar. On a sandblasted pipe after several initial coats of wax I heat it over my stove to melt the wax into all the crevices. Then I buff it with a few more coats and repeat the process until it builds up to my liking.Blast13 Here is the pipe after a couple of hours of buffing and waxing.Blast14








Blast22 The pipe is a fantastic smoker and already after only a couple of ounces or so of tobacco smoked through it is beginning to break in. The draw is very easy and butter smooth. The pipe almost seems to smoke itself. I can only imagine how it will smoke after several more ounces are smoked through it.

Gary did perfection on the mechanics of the pipe and Carl put a world class looking blast on it. I couldn’t have asked for a better pipe. It turned out beyond my expectations. This will always be a cherished pipe to me. I have to add that the pictures just do not do it justice.

Restoring a Monster KBB Yello Bole Imperial Rusticated Billiard

Blog by Troy Wilburn

I picked up this huge pipe from a friend of mine on the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum. This pipe isn’t a magnum it’s a howitzer! It is 7 ½ inches long and has an almost 2 ½ inch tall bowl. The pipe was nice but had some issues. The top of the rim and the inner edge had been hacked up. The stem also has some heavy nicks and dings in it. It was really clean though and I had very little to do as far as getting the inside clean.

Here are some photos of the pipe before I worked on it.Troy1



Troy4 As I stated above the top of the rim and the inner edge were badly hacked.Troy5 I began by working on the rim. I topped it and made a large concave inner rim. I don’t know if it came like this from the factory or not but it has one now. I took it down with 80 grit sandpaper and then a lot of sanding with 120 grit sandpaper.Troy6

Troy7 After I had finished rough shaping the rim I did LOTS and LOTS more sanding from 400 grit sandpaper all the way up to 2000 grit sandpaper. I used mineral oil as a lubricant for the sandpaper and also to bring out the colour of the natural wood. Troy8


Troy10 I soaked the stem in alcohol and then scrubbed it with a green scouring pad. I cleaned it out with pipe cleaners.Troy11 The stem had several tooth marks and gouges on the top and the bottom side next to the button.Troy12

Troy13 I filed out the tooth marks and reshaped the button.Troy14 Here is a little trick that some of you may know, but I came up with it in working on the last few pipes. I thought I would share it here. After filing the stem I take a lighter and work the flame back and forth across the file marks. The heat from the lighter helps to blend in the file marks and makes it easier to sand them out.

Here is a photo of the stem before I used the lighter.Troy15 Here is a photo of the stem after using the lighter.Troy16 I buffed the rim with Brown Tripoli a few times to get rid of the fine sanding marks. I could not get the pads into the concave inner rim so I waxed it by hand with paste wax several times.Troy17 With the initial sanding and cleaning of the stem done, I still had a lot more sanding to do. There were lots of scratches and dings in it. I began sanding with 400 grit sandpaper and worked my way up to 2500 grit sandpaper.Troy18 I put the stem back on the bowl and got it ready for the final buffing and waxing.Troy19 Here are photos of the pipe after it had been buffed and polished.Troy20











Troy31 To give an idea of the size of this pipe and put it in perspective here is a photo of it next to a Yello Bole Hand Made Poker I have. As most of you would know, a Hand Made is not a small pipe by any means. This billiard almost dwarfs it.Troy32

Masking Fills in Briar Using Acrylic Paint

Blog by Troy Wilburn & Steve Laug

One of the things I love about rebornpipes is that I learn something not only in the refurbishing of the pipes that I do but also in the work of others who contribute here. I am always looking for innovative and untried by me ways to address issues in the pipes we refurbish.While reading Troy’s latest blog on refurbishing the Dr. Grabow Belvedere Apple there was one particular part of it that I wanted to highlight. Most of the steps he takes many of us use when working on estate pipes. But there was one step that was new to me – a different way in which he deals with fills to blend them or mask them into the finish of the pipe. I have found that for me when something like this is included in the ongoing text of a refurb it is easy to lose sight of and it is forgotten. I have never tried his method of masking the fills on the pipe using acrylic paint. I thought I would pull out the process he enumerated from his post and use his photos to show the step by step process that he employed. I wrote and asked Troy if I could do this and he gave his permission. With that all taken care of here is the process. The majority of the text is from Troy’s blog. I have added my comments to his or put them in parentheses following the text.

1. The fills are present in the pipe in hand and they are truly eyesores. I generally pick them out and refill them with my own dark mix or the pipe gets rusticated. But that is not Troy’s tact. He cleaned the surface of the bowl with isopropyl alcohol.Troy2

Troy3 2. The next steps are taken from his own description of the process in the original blog. Mineral oil is applied to highlight the damage to the bowl and the fills for examination.Troy7 3. I then took some acrylic paint from Walmart and mixed up a color that would help blend the fills in somewhat.Troy14

Troy15 4. I applied the blended paint to the fills using a small brush.Troy16
5. Once all the fills were covered by the paint I set the pipe on the heater for drying.

6. After the paint had dried I wet sanded the pipe again with mineral oil and 2500 grit sandpaper to blend out the paint. I sanded the paint very lightly though, as it does not take much to smooth it out. (In the photo below you can see lightly sanded fills. There were a lot of them on this bowl.)Troy18 7. I applied a couple of coats of wax to the bowl and shank and after that the fills don’t look too bad.Troy19 8. I buffed the finished pipe and though the fills are still present they are well blended into the surface of the bowl and shank. (The photos below show different views of the bowl and shank that match those shown above where the fills were very obvious.)Troy21





New Life for a Dr. Grabow Belvedere Apple

Blog by Troy Wilburn

I got this pipe from a friend on Facebook. He buys lots and sells pipes out of them. He sent me a message and said he had a decent Dr. Grabow Belvedere for $2.50 + $2.50 shipping. He stated it would clean up pretty good. I’ve known him for a while and have purchased a few pipes from him. I trust his judgment, so I told him to ship it to me. I didn’t even ask what shape number it was or finish. Heck for 5 bucks a good stem is worth that. That’s cheaper than a pack of smokes nowadays.

The next group of photos shows what the pipe was like when I got it. It has several fills and the back of rim is banged up. On a good note there are no cracks or such and the stem was in fine shape. It’s not the prettiest looking pipe, but it will make a fine smoker. With all the fills this will be a work horse pipe – a pipe I can keep in a tackle box, tool box, RV /camper, pickup truck glove box or just a for beating around outside when doing work. Because of the rook stinger this makes it an early Belvedere from around mid 1950’s.Troy1




Troy5 I took the bowl and gave it a good cleaning with Oxy Clean, a Scotch Brite pad and warm water. After that I cleaned out cake and shank with isopropyl alcohol.Troy6 I wiped down the bowl with mineral oil to get a good look at the damage.Troy7 Starting with 400 grit sandpaper I worked over the major damage on the bowl and slowly working it out with 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 2000 grit sandpaper. Then I used 2500 grit sandpaper over the whole pipe. I used mineral oil as a lubricant for the wet/dry paper instead of water.Troy8



Troy11 I set the pipe on a space heater to dry the oil out so I could work on the fills.Troy12 I scrubbed and cleaned the stem inside and out after a soak in isopropyl and then Oxy Clean. The stem wasn’t that bad. After using a shank brush on it I found that it only needed a few cleaners.Troy13 I then took some paint and mixed up a color that would help blend the fills in somewhat. It was just plain old acrylic paint from Walmart.Troy14

Troy15 I applied it on fills of course using a small brush.Troy16 I then set the pipe back on heater for drying. While it was drying I wet sanded stem with 400 grit sandpaper on up to 2500 grit sandpaper, just like I had done with the bowl. I also cleaned the stinger and male threads with steel wool.Troy17 After bowl dried I wet sanded the pipe again with mineral oil and 2500 grit sandpaper to blend out the paint. I sanded very lightly though, as it does not take much.Troy18 The fills don’t look too bad after a couple of coats of wax.Troy19 Here are some photos of the completed pipe.Troy20











Troy31 For a few bucks a little time and elbow grease I got me a fine daily smoker and work pipe that will last a long time and smoke great.

Ready for those “honey do” projects.Troy32

A Kaywoodie Supergrain 5102 Poker Clean Up

Blog by Troy Wilburn

I got this pipe in a lot of pipes I received from a friend on Facebook. It’s a pre 1936 four digit (5102) stamped poker with the 4 hole stinger. It was in terrific shape, so being at least 78 years old I wanted to keep it as original as possible. I basically just gave it a good cleaning with little else needed.

Here is the pipe before:KW1


KW3 I scraped out old cake (which there wasn’t much of) and gave the shank a good cleaning. I cleaned off all the old grime with a cotton ball and a small amount of Oxy Clean mixed with warm water. I cleaned the rim with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab followed by scrubbing it with oxy/water with a Scotch Brite pad. Mineral oil will bring the color back out.KW4

KW5 I soaked the stem and stinger in isopropyl alcohol for about 45 minutes to loosen up the stuff on the stinger.KW6 I cleaned stinger and inside stem with steel wool and isopropyl alcohol. Once finished with the scrubbing it was ready for wet sanding.KW7

KW8 I had to file out some very minor tooth marks on the top and bottom of the stem next to the button.KW9 With the bowl cleaned and stem wet sanded I put the pipe back together for inspection.KW10 I wiped down the pipe and stem with mineral oil to condition wood, bring color back out and then did some final inspecting before buffing.KW11 Once the oil absorbed into the wood and vulcanite it was ready for a little buffing.

Here is what the pipe looked like after I was finished.KW12













The use of Rit Dye to stain pipes

Blog by Troy Wilburn

imagesYesterday I sent an email to Troy about his use of Rit Dye to stain pipes. I have been reading and enjoying his blogs on the various restorations he has done here on rebornpipes and from reading them had some questions about his use of the dye. I have had questions for a while now about water based stains in general so I looked forward to his reply. His response was very helpful and gave me the information I wanted to know. I have included my email that started the conversation before Troy’s response.

Hey Troy,
Hope the morning is going well for you. I have been thinking about your Rit dye stain. I have a couple of questions for you.
1. Does the dye swell the grain being water based? I wonder if you could mix it with Isopropyl alcohol like the aniline stains that come in powder form and mix with alcohol.
2. What is the durability? When you heat it does the stain come off on your hands? Over time does it come off with use?

Rit2 Here is Troy’s response:

The dye does not mix with alcohol well from my experience.

The mixture does raise the grain some but not as much as you think. That is one reason I rub the pipe down with mineral oil after drying. It seems to knock down the raised grain. I usually use a cotton ball with oil. If it’s a rusticated or blasted pipe after wiping with oil I take a tooth brush and gently spread the oil in recesses.

Some dye will be lifted in doing this and in the first time you apply wax with a wheel, so I tend to make it a little darker as it will lighten up slightly. When I apply the first base wax I do it very lightly as I just want to use it as a sealer.

As far as durability I have had no problems using this and all the pipes I have done have held up well to constant smoking.

If I want to do a light stain I simply wipe on and wipe off. I repeat this process if I want to add just a slightly darker coat. If I want to do a very dark stain or a dark base I wipe the mixture on heavy and use a small paint brush and brush the stain after applying it with a rag or cotton ball.

I used to do be employed as a wood finisher for a custom cabinet furniture company in Florida, so I have some experience in water based stains and mixing my own colors. One reason I chose to try and use fabric dyes is basically they are water based stains and can be found easily and they are cheap to buy.
I have used alcohol based stains before also but prefer water based as they are more forgiving and easier to manipulate if you want to lighten or darken. They are also easier to tint over.

Getting the Rit dye to mix well and figuring out the right amount to use does take a little time but can be mastered by trial and error rather quickly. The hotter the water the better and use small amounts until you get the right consistency and the depth of color you are looking for.

If you are interested in trying out the Rit dye I suggest messing around with some old trashed bowls and judge for yourself if it is something that you would like to use. Just because I like it and works for me you may not like it.

I think for someone who has used a lot of alcohol based stains and is comfortable with them this may not be their cup of tea.

As I stated before I’m more comfortable with water based stains and used to mixing my own colors.

Hope this helps in your questions and feel free to ask anymore anytime.


I thought I would include some of the colours that are available for Rit dye. The chart below gives just a few of them and the combinations that can be made are many. – SteveRit dye

Restoring a Dr. Grabow Starfire Wirecarved 85 Poker

Blog by Troy Wilburn

This pipe is a Dr . Grabow Starfire Wirecarved shape no.85 I picked up recently from an online auction. This is my favorite Dr. Grabow shape and I own several poker model 85s. Most of them are from the RJ Reynolds coupon era. Although the Starfire wasn’t a coupon pipe the quality was just as high on them as the RJ Reynolds pipes. I’m a big fan of the black wirecarved finish on the Starfires and Belvedere’s.

The pipe was in good shape although the wire carving was a little worn and the stem, an Adjustomatic, was stuck from corrosion. I did manage to get it unstuck after twisting on it several times really hard with hands and did not have to freeze it over night .

Before photos:Dr1



Dr4 After cleaning out bowl and shank I soaked bowl in alcohol and scrubbed it many times with a tooth brush trying to get as much dirt and residue as I could out of wire carving to make it crisper looking.Dr5 After a good soak in some OxyClean I managed to get stinger removed from stem and do some scrubbing on it with a scotch brite pad. I also oiled and heated the Adjustomatic and got it working correctly again.Dr6 With the bowl and stem cleaned, buffed and sanded I was ready to stain the bowl.Dr7 I decided to try a two part stain, so I mixed up some purple and black. The finish on Starfire and Belvedere wirecarved pipes is not a true black but black with purple undertones.Dr8 I applied three coats of purple dye letting it dry between coats. Then I applied three thinner mixed coats of black.Dr9

Dr10 With the staining done I now needed to let it dry for a bit.Dr11 The next photo shows the pipe back together and rubbed with mineral oil. It is ready for buffing after it dries some.Dr12 After photos:Dr13


Dr15 This particular poker is also a less common shape stamped model.Dr16




Dr20 It is a good pipe to smoke my favorite Old Codger Burleys OTCs in.Dr21