Blog by Steve Laug
I have repaired pipes for Paresh in India over the past four months and not long ago he sent me seven of his Grandfather’s pipes to restore. It is an interesting assortment of older pipes that come from the period of 1937-1950s. His Grandfather worked for the Indian Railroad many years and was a pipeman. Paresh is also a pipeman and recently found out that his Grandfather smoked a pipe as well. The second of the pipes is an older Yello-Bole Carburetor Billiard. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Carburetor over the KBB triangle logo followed by Yello-Bole over US Pat. 2082.106 over Cured with Real Honey. On the right side there is a four digit number 4522. This pipe was made between 1935 and 1936. Here is the rationale. The carburetor patent was granted in 1935, this pipe is stamped “US Pat.” Interestingly enough, it also has a patent number on the bottom of the shank that reads Reg.U.S.Pat.Off. over No. 343.331. The four digit number was used by KBB until 1936. The first two numbers indicate the finish, in this case 45 indicates a smooth finish. The second two numbers indicate the shape, in this case 22 indicates a straight billiard. The rim top is beat up and worn there is damage on the surface and also has nicks around the inner and outer edges of the bowl. The bowl still had a fairly thick cake on the walls. The carburetor tube that goes through the bottom of the bowl from outside to the inside was clogged and dirty. I took a close up photo of the rim top and both sides of the stem. You can see the damage to the top and inner edge of the rim top in the first photo below. The second and third photo shows the top and underside of the stem.The next photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank as noted above. There is also a large crack on the top left side of the shank. The next two photos show the stamping and the crack very clearly. I always enjoy getting some background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring when I am working estate pipes from the family members. If you have followed rebornpipes for a while you have read a few of these summaries from estates like Kathy’s Dad, Barry’s Dad and Farida’s Dad. Each of them did a great job summarizing their fathers’ estates. Since the next group of seven pipes that I will be working came to from India and belonged to the Grandfather of Paresh, I asked him to write a short tribute to his Grandfather. What follows is his writeup.
Now that the first batch of my Grandfather’s pipes has reached you, I would like to share my memories of him with you, the aim being to provide you with an insight to his personality, the era in which he lived, and a brief history associated with the pipes that I have inherited from him.
My Grandfather, Ananta (named after an exotic seasonal white flower having lovely fragrance), was born in a small coastal town of Konkan region of Maharashtra, India, in 1918. These were very turbulent times when India’s freedom struggle against British rule was gathering momentum and the atmosphere was charged with “Quit India Movement”. Having completed his graduation from Bombay, he joined Railways in 1937. This also marked the beginning of his journey into the world of pipe smoking!!!!!
Having seen his potential, in 1945, he was sponsored by the Government to visit England, for gaining further experience and expertise in his profession. This was a period when India’s Independence was round the corner and efforts were being made to train Indians for various administrative appointments in future Independent India. He returned back to India after a year, in 1946 and with him came some pipes that he had purchased in England. I believe a few of his Petes, Barlings, Charatans and GBDs are from this visit.
In 1947, when the British finally left India for good, my Grandfather was gifted pipes by his British peers, subordinates and Superior Officers as a parting gift. He stayed in touch with a few of them over all these years, even visiting them in 1959-60. Some of his later era Charatans and Barlings and Pete are from this trip. He quit smoking in early 1970s (before I was even born!!!!) and his pipes were packed up. There were a number of pipes which were used as TINDER for lighting fires (CAN”T BELIEVE IT…… I have not overcome my grief of this loss till date!!!!!) due to ignorance!!!!!!
My Grandfather was a very strict disciplinarian and temperamental (I did not know this as he was neither when dealing with me as I am the youngest of all his grandchildren!!!!!! He was always the most understanding and loving person in my life). I later learned that in his office, he was not to be disturbed when his pipe was lit, as he would be in his thinking/ contemplating mode while it was just the opposite as he lit his pipe in the evening while at home, when he would be at his relaxed best!!!!.
The interesting part is that neither of us knew that we each smoked a pipe until after his demise in Jan 2018!!!! In our culture, to this day, smoking or alcohol consumption is socially never talked about (mute acceptance!!!). It was during his last rites that absent mindedly I lighted my pipe and looking into the flickering flames of his funeral pyre, remembered and recollected all the wonderful memories and talks that we had shared. No one said a word to me about my lighting up a pipe!!!!!! Immediately thereafter, I rejoined my duty station. A few days later, my wife, Abha, received a box from my Uncle with a note that said “Grandfather would have loved Paresh to have these”. This box contained a collection of his fountain pens and 8-10 of his pipes (since then as my folks are winding up his belongings, I have received 2-3 packets and a large number of pipes, some in decent condition and some in unspeakable state). Abha immediately messaged me with pictures of these pipes and pens. I had been collecting and restoring (no major repairs, though) fountain pens since long and immediately recognized some of them as highly collectibles, however, pipes were a totally different ball game! I was inexperienced with no knowledge/ information regarding various brands/ pipe makers, shapes and materials. I knew nothing about the value of these pipes, nothing about pipe restorations, nothing about caring for them; I mean zero knowledge about collecting pipes. I smoked some real cheap Chinese pipes which were readily and unfortunately, the only ones, available in India and some inexpensive pipes from eBay India!!!!! Also regular pipe cleaning, pipe rotation, pipe cleaners and such things were unknown to me.
Thus, to know more about the REAL pipes, I embarked upon the journey of exploring finer nuances of pipe brands/ makers, their history and watching “How to videos” on packing a pipe, cleaning, repairing and caring for ones pipes. I found it extremely interesting and satisfying. It was while meandering through this confusing quagmire of pipe world that I came across rebornpipes.com website and eventually established contact with you, Mr Steve, who has since been my mentor, guide and GURU, making this journey a wonderful and satisfying experience.
Sir, there is one more thing that I need to thank you for and that is when you asked me to write a brief about my grandfather and his pipes, I realized how little I knew about him, in fact, knew nothing, as I was not even aware that he was a “pipeman” as no one in my family ever spoke about it being taboo subject and since he had quit a long time before I was even born!!!! This led me to ask the elders in my family, questions on the subject and came to know the above details. I cannot thank you enough for prodding me to get to know my grandfather and his pipes a lot better. Sir, these pipes of his, with your help and guidance, will remain with me forever in mint condition……
Thanks Paresh for this great descriptive take of your Grandfather. It really gives me a sense of the pipes that you have sent me and what they meant to him. It is obvious from the variety of pipes that you sent and the overall condition that he knew how to choose good quality pipes and obviously enjoyed smoking them throughout most of his life.
Paresh’s wife Abha cleaned the pipes before she sent them to me here in Canada and did an amazing job cleaning them up. She reamed the bowls, cleaned the rims and scrubbed the exterior of the pipes and the stems with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cleaned off the buildup on the stems. This particular pipe had a very hard cake in the bowl and with the tube sticking up from the bottom of the bowl she was very careful in here cleanup. There was till cake that needed to be removed. The finish on the bowl is in bad condition and was peeling and dirty. The light varnish coat was rough. The stamping on the sides and bottom of the bowl was very readable. The crack in the shank was fairly open and would need to be banded to repair it. The rim top had been beat up on hard surfaces and the outer edges were rough and rounded. The stem was lightly oxidized on both sides of the stem and had quite a bit of tooth chatter on both.
I removed the stem from the shank and started my work on the bowl itself. I wiped down the peeling finish on the bowl and shank with acetone on cotton pads. I rubbed it down until I had removed the varnish coat and the grime in the finish. I carefully cleaned up the reaming in the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer first. I started with the smallest cutting head and worked up to the second cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar on the top ¾ of the bowl with the PipNet. I finished up the bottom ¼ with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took the cake back to the bare briar on the bottom. I was careful around the tube extending into the bowl bottom so I would not damage it. I wanted to check out the condition of the interior of the bowl. It looked very good once it was cleaned off. There was no checking or cracking on the bowl walls. There was no sign of burn out inside. I decided to take care of the cracked shank next before I cleaned up the inside. I found a nickel band that was the right diameter for the shank. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to cut back about 1/3 of the depth of the band so that when it was fully on the shank it would not cover up the stamping on either side of the shank. I cleaned out the crack with a cotton swab and alcohol. I put some all-purpose white glue in the crack and pressed the band onto the shank. I used the sandpaper on the topping board to face the band and the end of the shank. I wanted the shank end and band to be absolutely smooth so that the fit of the stem in the shank would not change. You can see from the first photo below that the band placement does not come close to the stamping but completely cover the crack.To remove the damage to the top of the rim and minimize the damage on the inside and outside edge of the rim I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned out the carburetor tube on the bottom of the bowl with a paper clip and pushed through the tars and grime that had plugged the tubes. I cleaned out the airway in the shank and the mortise with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol until the inside was clean.I polished the rim top and bevel with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust and the scratches. I stained the rim with a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the rest of the bowl and shank.I worked Before & After Restoration Balm deep into the briar to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips. I worked it into the rim and shank end. I set it aside for a few minutes to let the balm work. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The briar really began to have a deep shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The grain on the bowl is really beginning to stand out and will only do so more as the pipe is waxed. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem at the button with 220 grit sand paper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish both Fine and Extra Fine to remove the last of the scratches. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond. I gave them both 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have five more of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes to finish and then I will pack them up and send across the sea to India where he can carry on the legacy. I know that he is looking forward to having them in hand and enjoying a bowl of his favourite tobacco in memory of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this pipe over.