Custom-Bilt Pipe Archive.

Please bare with me while this guide takes shape. I felt even though the post is incomplete the information below would be beneficial to Custombilt collectors. I will periodically update as I gather more info and photos.  Thanks Tim.  

 

Before my knowledge of the company and it’s founder Tracy Mincer, I was intrigued by by these large ugly pieces of briar. They seemed like misfits in a sea of smooth, small and manicured pipes of it’s time.

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Whether your a collector or first time buyer of Custom-Bilt/Custombilt pipes it can be difficult to find information online about the brand. With the help of Bill Unger’s book “Individual As A Thumbprint” The Custom-Bilt Pipe Story, online research and the study of my own Custom-Bilt collection, I have put together a guide to help others lock down dates, makes and the differences between eras. Hopefully this sheds some light on the Custom-Bilt pipe.

Contributors welcome- If you would like to contribute to this post please e-mail me, Tim at Pipesrevival@gmail.com

 

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The unmistakable Tracy Mincer Custom-Bilt, the use of the hyphen between Custom and Bilt was only used during the Mincer years. The introduction year of Tracy Mincer’s Custom-Bilt pipe is a little hazy , 1929 or 1938. From what Bill Unger found in his research, Mincer more than likely started his pipe making in the early 1930’s while working the cigar counter at a drug store in Chicago. The chunky, thick walled and uniquely rusticated pipes of the Mincer era make it easier to tell apart from other Custombilt pipes. 

 

 Geometric Symbols 

Most but not all Custom-Bilt pipes have a geometric stamp. The purpose of geometric symbol stamps seems to be a mystery, when Unger questioned former owners and employees of Custombilt he received different answers, one was grade and the other size but after the examination of many Bilts he found the same geometric stamp used on a variety of different sizes and grades of  pipes. I have seen a handful of Eugene Rich era Bilts with  geometric stamps as well. i

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 Examples of Mincer Era Custom-Bilt Pipes 

 

 Straight & Saddle Bit Billiards 

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 Flat Sided Billiards 

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 BULLCAP & BULLDOGS

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 Lovat & Canadian

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 Dublin 

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 Pokers 

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 Squat Apple 

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 Squat Pot 

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 Small Bilts 

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 The Tracy Mincer Patented Filter 

Granted to Mincer September 7, 1937. The patented filter is one of the more interesting pipes made by Mincer, the design is unusual there is an aluminum insert that is held by a small plastic rod at either side of the mortise, usually the rod is red but I have seen black rod used as well, it can be difficult to spot the red dot on heavily rusticated pipes. The patented filter faded away at the onset of WWII as aluminum was being collected for the war effort.

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The tell-tale red dot of the patented filter.

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Box of filters for Mincers patented filter pipe.
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Brake down of the patented filter pipe. (Damaged pipe-the patented filter’s aluminum insert was not designed to be removed.)

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 Shank-Extension Filter 

The shank-extension filter 1940’s? Finding a complete shank-extension filter is rare many inserts were lost or thrown away. There is no visible sign of a shank-extension unless the stem is removed from the shank. 

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 Mincer Era Carved Bilts 

1946-In my six years of collecting I have only seen these two examples of Mincer era carved Custom-Bilt pipes, photos from a fellow collector.

If your a collector and have any other examples I can add to this post please send photos to Pipesrevival@gmail.com 

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 The Pipes 

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A Registered mark found on a few Rich era Bilts.

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 Canadian 

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 Bents 

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 Saddle Grain 

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 Smooth Bilt, Burly Briar

I can not find any information on this Bilt, a fellow collector felt this was a Rich era line. Its the only completely smooth Custombilt I’ve seen other then photos in old advertisements.

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 Miniatures 

 The Miniature Custombilt appeared in the 1940’s-1950’s. The miniature pipe and box would come with a gift certificate from your favorite B&M, the miniature pipe and certificate would then be turned in for a full size Bilt of your choosing. They were non-smoking miniatures made of clay or wood.

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 Convertibole 

 First appeared summer of 1946, nicknamed the wardrobe because of its interchangeable bowls. 

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 His Nibs 

 The His Nibs pipe was introduced under Eugene Rich in the summer of 1947, designed for a short smoke while fishing, between classes or intermission at the theater, a smaller pipe but styled after its full size Custombilt counterpart. 

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 The first His Nibs I’ve seen with the distinctive Rich era carving, the nomenclature is also slightly different when compared to the more Mincer like carved His Nibs. 

 CB Stub 

Introduced in 1949, a pocket size pipe featuring a full size chamber. 

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 Rich Era Masterpieces/Sculptured Bowls 

Appeared 1948, there are a few more examples out there.

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The Archer is not listed in Unger’s book, sold on Ebay a while back. I wasn’t lucky enough to win the bid.

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  Majestic 

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 Churchwarden 

Military Mount

 Cased Sets

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 Accessories 

Custombilt reamers, pipe stands, pipe cleaners

 

 Courtley and Courtley Supreme 

Introduced in the late 1940’s. Styled by Custombilt each one is unique 

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 The Pipes

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Other nomenclatures used during the Frank era.

 

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Unger wrote that stamp five was a mystery, out of the hundreds of pipes he had examined only seven had this stamp making it rare in his opinion. Unger also felt these pipes were Eugene Rich and Wally Frank era pipes. The pipes in my collection with there deep craggy carving and the use of the geometric shape symbols point to the Mincer years.20170628104149~2PhotoGrid_1498778294717

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These pipes were bought as a set both look to be of the Mincer era, one is the Mincer Custom-Bilt nomenclature and the other the rare nomenclature.

 Other Mincer and Custombilt made Pipes

Many pipes were made

 

Mr. Dobbs

1950’s made during Mincer’s Doodler years. Made of scrap briar there were riddled with filler.

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 Greenwich House Antique

I cannot say for sure but Greenwich House Antique pipes resemble Custombilt pipes but they may have been manufactured by Mastercraft .

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 The Doodler

1953

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Yorkshire Pipes 

1940’s-1950’s Sold exclusively through Sears Roebuck.

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 Miscellaneous Advertisements/Documents 

Contributors here would be incredible, I love seeing old Custom-Bilt/Custombilt advertisements and documents. Online searches gives limited results. Email me, Tim at Pipesrevival@gmail.com  

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Re-Stemming A His Nibs by Custombilt

 

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A couple of months ago I picked up a lot of Custom-Bilt and His Nibs pipes that were in poor condition, with things busy around here they were pushed aside until I could dedicate myself to pipes that would need more attention then normal. Now with a little free time I rummaged through the pipe box and came out with a small 4″ His Nibs, the perfect pipe for a quick winters smoke. The His Nibs pipes were introduced under Eugene Rich in the summer of 1947, designed for a short smoke while fishing, between classes or intermission at the theater, a smaller pipe but styled after is full size Custombilt counterpart. 

The Restore

 

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 This pipe like many others in the lot was well loved, each one smoked within an inch of it’s life. The nomenclature of this Nibs caught my eye it was well stamped, His Nibs over Imported Briar, the chamber held an uneven cake, the rim had a little build up and a scorched area towards the shank. The stem was in rough shape broken off dead center at the bit.

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I reamed back the cake with the PipNet and Castleford reamers, starting with the Castlefords smallest attachment, then the PipNets smallest and finally back to the Castleford and its second smallest attachment bring the chamber back to briar, the chamber was free of imperfections.

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I decided to re-stem rather then rebuild, the stem itself was an inch and three quarters long and the bit was missing a 6 mm section, so cutting and rebuilding the button was out of the question. I’m confident in my patch repair work if its a bite though but I was unsure if a patch would last in this situation. I started with the stummel, cleaning the mortise with EverClear, Q-Tips and stiff/soft pipe cleaners, cleaning until my final pipe cleaner came out as it went in. I set the stummel aside to dry and moved to cutting the replacement stem.

 

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Before cutting the tenon I drilled the bore with a 1/8 drill bit so the stem could slide onto the Pemo’s guide pin, I then mounted the Pemo tenon turning tool into a variable speed drill. I slid the stem onto the guide pin and adjusted the cutter set screw to make my first pass, removing a couple millimeters of material. I now measured the stock stem for the original length and using a coping saw I cut a few millimeters off the new tenon. Using the stock stem for measurements I made another pass on the tenon cutter until I had a tenon length match, I popped the stock stem onto the tenon cutter and set the cutter to match the tapered end of the stock tenon, I now slid the replacement stem onto the guide pin and cut the taper into the tenon.

 

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Now I slid the stock stem back onto the guide pin and set my cutter to the thickness of the stock tenon, backing it off a bit so my cut of the replacement tenon would not be an exact fit. The final snug fit between tenon and mortise would be achieved by removing the tenon material with 400 and 800 grit sandpaper wet. (You have to take your time here forcing the tenon into the mortise could result in a cracked shank or you risk snapping the tenon.)

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Once I achieved a snug fit between tenon and mortise and with the stem face flush with the stummel, I taped off the shank with painters tape to keep my abrasive sanding from damaging the stummel. Using a rotary sanding bit I removed the bulk of the stem material, leaving a step up from shank to stem.

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Now switching to 220 grit sandpaper and then made a final pass with an emery board, (you do not want an exact mach between stem and shank at this point there should still be a small step up from shank to stem, there is still plenty of sanding to be done) This is where things get tedious, I removed the painters tape and re-taped the shank with electrical tape, pulling it tight. I now sanded the stem with the finer grits of sandpaper. Using 400 grit sandpaper wet I sanded the saddle until my sandpaper began to hit the lip of the electrical tape (this allows you to know your getting closer to an exact match between shank and stem) , I now moved to 1000 grit sandpaper wet, sanding and removing the tape and re-tapping the shank from time to time to check the surface of the stem and shank (there should still be a very, very small step up from shank to stem at this point) I stopped my work on matching the stummel and stem and began shaping the stem and button using 400, 800 and 1000 grit sandpaper wet.

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Once I have achieved the stem and button shape I was looking for I could move to my final sanding. At this point a very, very small step up from shank to stem still remains.

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Before my final fit and sanding of the stem I shaped and widened the slot using a slot funneling tool and needle files.

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 This is the most time consuming step, using a divider between shank and stem I sanded the stem with 1500 sandpaper wet, sanding until the step up between shank and stem no longer exists. With the fit between shank and stem flush and smooth, I ran the stem with divider still in place through the various grits of micro-mesh 1500-2400 wet and 3200-6000 dry.

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Before polishing the stem with the remaining micro-mesh pads I bent the stem slightly using a Bic lighter, by brushing the stem lightly with the flame and bending it over a nail polish bottle. (use care with this method, things can go wrong quick, keep the flame at a distance moving it at all times never leaving it in one spot too long)

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With a smooth fit and finish and the slight bend I was looking for I polished the stem with the remaining micro-mesh pads 8000 and 12000 dry.

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Above the replacement and stock stem.

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With the stem complete it was time to finish the stummel, I applied Method Wood For Good Polish to the rim and left it upside down on a makeup pad for an hour to penetrate the build up. With the build up now softened I removed the debris with Q-Tips and a makeup pad. After cleaning the rim there were a few knock out dings left behind, using a house hold iron set to medium heat and a damp rag I steamed out the imperfections. I placed a damp rag over the rim and applied the rim flat against the hot iron, I would repeat this process a couple of times to get the results I was looking for. At the beginning of the restore I cleaned the mortise only in order to fit the new stem with the stem now complete I continued with the internal cleaning of the stummel and chamber, using EverClear, Q-Tips, stiff/soft pipe cleaners and mortise/shank brushes, cleaning until my final pipe cleaner came out as it went in.

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After steaming the rim there were still a few shallow imperfections and a darker area at the back of the rim, using worn 3200, 3600 and 4000 micro-mesh pads I smoothed out and lightened the rim. Before moving on I gave the stummel a wipe down with Method to remove the fine sanding dust and grime.

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As a final step before hitting the wheel I applied Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner using a Q-Tip into the deeper craving of the stummel, left aside to penetrate for a few minutes and removing the excess with a clean rag.

Complete.

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I finished up the stummel with a few coats carnauba and a spin on the nude wheel. Buffing the stem with blue compound, white diamond and carnauba. Hand buffing the pipe as a whole with a microfiber cloth just before the photos.

 

Thanks For Taking A look

Tim.

Savinelli- Bing’s Favorite

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Bing Crosby’s White Christmas LP spinning on the hifi, growing up that album played every Christmas morning for as long as I can remember and its become a tradition I carry on with my daughter. I grew up with a wide variety of music, blues, jazz, swing, rock, punk and everything in between, my daughter has that same variety, Bing’s greatest hits is part of my daughter and my  morning ritual, its always playing as we get ready before dropping her off at school, it puts a little spring in your step. A replica of Bing Crosby’s preferred shape and style the Savinelli Bing’s Favorite is a pipe I’ve wanted to get my hands on, it reminds me of a simpler time when men were men and women left more to the imagination.

Bing’s Favorite 

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The well loved Bing had seen a bowl or two in its lifetime, a thick cake, rim overflow, chatter and someone buffed the bejesus out of the stem I’m guessing to try and remove the oxidation, luckily sparring the club and ball logo. On the plus side the nomenclature is crisp, right side shank- BINGS FAVORITE , left side shank- Italy, bottom shank- SAVINELLI PRODUCT.

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Reaming the chamber would be the first task, the chamber being on the smaller size only added to the difficulty of removing the rock hard carbon build up. When I started with the stummel I could not fit a pinky in the chamber its amazing the bowl didn’t crack under the stress. I attempted to ream the chamber with the smallest attachment that the PipNet reamer offered but to no avail the carbon was to hard and I risked damaging the rim. So I took the slow and steady approach, slowly picking away at the cake with a small pocket knife. Once I had opened the chamber a bit I tried the PipNet reamer again but the hard carbon build up was forcing an uneven cut, if I continued I would eventually dig into the briar on one side of the chamber. My third and final approach would leave the chamber free of cake, using a rotary sanding bit and variable speed drill I carefully removed the rock hard carbon I was then able to sand with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper leaving a carbon free chamber. I did uncover spider webbing along the chamber walls.

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The overflow on the rim was thick, in the past I would chip away at the build up but would risk damaging the rim itself and end up creating more work for myself. Now with thick build up I take my time, I sprayed a makeup pad with Method Wood For Good Polish and placed the stummel rim side down on the pad and went shopping with my daughter for an hour or so, when I returned to my desk I could see the Method had softened the build up. I now simply wiped the residue away with Q-Tips and a makeup pad, the rim beneath was flawless not a ding or dent. The previous owners lack of maintenance had preserved the rim, I wish this was true with all my estates.

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The internals of the pipe were much like the rest of the pipe ill maintained, I started off with my standard cleaning but my efforts would prove useless. My wife seeing the pipe cleaners and Q-Tips piling up suggested a retort “what a wonderful idea” it would seem my last few subjects were a bit relaxed and the thought of using the retort never crossed my mind. I hooked up the retort using EverClear and ran the pipe as a whole through the process a couple of times loosing the stubborn build up.

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I then proceeded with my standard internal cleaning of the stem and stummel using EverClear, stiff/soft pipe cleaners, mortise/shank brushes, cotton balls and Q-Tips , cleaning until my final pipe cleaner came out as it went in.

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After the internal cleaning I could see the spider webbing throughout the chamber walls better, it would seem the thick cake did not preserve the chamber as it did with the rim. I mixed a batch of pipe mud using cigar ash and a little water and applied it to the chamber with a finger pushing it into the small cracks. I left it aside to dry, once dry I removed the leftover with a rag.

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With the heat still pumping in the house I rocked the bowl coating once again.

(I have cut and paste the process for the bowl coating from a previous post below.)

Prepping the chamber before applying the bowl coat, the chamber was scrubbed thoroughly with EverClear during my internal cleaning but I gave it one more round with an EverClear dipped Q-Tip and allowed it to dry, removing any the loose debris from the crack with a pick. I then mixed a little cigar ash and water together to make pipe mud to fill the crack, I applied it with a finger and left to dry. Once the mud was hardened in the crack I wiped the excess from the chamber with a rag. The bowl coating is a three step process starting first with mixing the primer coat. (Step One)- I start with honey about 2.5 ml in an old medicine cup, I add activated charcoal powder a little at a time to the honey and stir with a toothpick until I get the right constancy (it will ball up on its self as the charcoal coasts the honey but continued mixing will combined the two) basically your looking for the toothpick to stand on its own for a few seconds before falling to the side of the cup. I let the mixture settle until the bubbles rise to the top. (Step Two)-I apply a thin layer of the mixture to the chamber with a small flat paint brush, starting from the bottom of the chamber and working up the side walls being careful not to get it on the rim  (If you do get it on the rim warm water and a Q-Tip will remove it just try not to get water in the chamber itself).  There will be quite a bit of primer coating leftover, I store it in a lock&lock and will keep for a while for reuse.

          I let the coating set in the chamber for a few minutes just so it looses some of its shine, I then insert a folded pipe cleaner into the airway and lay down a piece of printer paper on my desk top before moving to the next step.(Step Three)- I add a little charcoal powder to the bottom of the chamber and slowly turn the stummel in hand to coat the entire chamber any excess charcoal powder that falls to the paper can be reused. I leave the stummel aside to dry, the chamber should be a dark gray color when completely coated if any dark wet spots reappear repeat step three. When the chamber is well coated and wet spots have not re-emerge I tap the stummel lightly on the side of my finger to remove any leftover charcoal powder. In warm dry conditions I leave the chamber to cure for a couple of days before buffing the stummel, in high humidity it could take up to a week or longer. Once the coating has cured for a few days and is dry to the touch and doesn’t smear (If it does smear and appears wet again repeat step three and let dry) I’ll remove the pipe cleaner, blow out any leftover powder and wait an additional week before packing and puffing. To be honest its a pain and takes a long time to fully cure which is why I avoid it if I can but I believe the clean smooth finish is worth it. All I can say is if you decide to try this bowl coating take your time and be patient, its all trial and error.

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Next the stems oxidation, I applied non-bleach Soft Scrub and left the stem aside to allow the  Soft Scrub to penetrate the oxidation. Once the Soft Scrub turns from white to a brownish color its time to scrub vigorously with a rag or makeup pad adding more Soft Scrub as needed, scrubbing until all oxidation has been removed. I use Q-Tips and Soft Scrub to remove the oxidation from around the button. (Holding the stem under natural light will help to see if all oxidation has been removed)

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After the oxidation removal I concentrated on the tooth impressions I used a Bic lighter and lightly brushed the bit with the flame raising some of the deeper impressions. (Using this method can be risky and could result in a burn stem, the flame must be moving at all times never leaving it in one spot too long)  

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What remained of the tooth impressions after heating I removed with 400 and 800 grit sandpaper wet, I also ruffed up the surface of the button for repair. The button was worn down from over buffing and there was a small chip. I mixed thick black CA glue and activated charcoal powder together to form a paste, using a toothpick I applied the paste to the button building up in layers, I then hit it with accelerator to set the repair.

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I reshaped the button with a flat needle file, I then moved to 400, 800 and 1000 grit sandpaper wet to remove fine sanding marks and further shape the button. I tape off the bulk of the stem as it was in fine shape and I wanted to keep my more abrasive sanding in one area, I finished the bite with Micro-mesh pads 1500-2400 wet and 3200-4000 dry.

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 Before a final polish with 6000-12000 micro-mesh pads I reapplied the stem logo using gold Rub&Buff, applying the Rub&Buff with a Q-Tip allowing to sit for a moment before removing the excess with a rag. I removed the painters tape and polish the whole stem with 6000-12000 micro-mesh pads and in the process also removed any leftover Rub&Buff.

Complete 

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I finished up on the wheel with white diamond, a few coats of carnauba and a round on the nude wheel, buffing the stem with blue compound and carnauba. I hand buffed the pipe as a whole with a microfiber cloth before the photos.

Thanks For Stopping by

Tim. 

Custombilt Hooked Bass

  The Custombilt Masterpieces and Sculptured Bowls were produced during the Eugene Rich years 1946-1952, each one beautifully carved and surrounded by chunky Custombilt rustication. The Hooked Bass I believe is one of thirteen, I have one other in my collection the Shriner’s Emblem that I have yet to restore. The Hooked Bass is the largest full bent Custombilt in my collection, with a generous 25mm by 47mm deep chamber and an overall length of 6 inches, a hardy yet surprisingly light weight pipe. This saddle bit Bilt was designed for a long relaxing smoke. 

 

-The Restore-

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The pipe was immaculate, the nomenclature crisp- Custombilt (Rich Era s) over Imported Briar and a shape stamp I have not seen before. Very lightly smoked, the chamber still held some of its original bowl coating. The stem, light oxidation, faint chatter and metal flecks thought out the vulcanite, I have many war time pipes with recycled rubber stems.

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I started with the chamber and its light cake. The largest PipNet reamer attachment was still to small for the massive chamber, I used the largest attachment and worked slowly around the inside wall of the chamber until I was back to briar. I uncovered a pit at the back of the chamber wall.

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Next the rim and one scorched area, I applied Method Wood For Good to the scorch and scrubbed with Q-Tips to try and lighten the area. When finished the rim blended pretty well. I wiped  down the stummel with a rag and Method Good For Wood, getting into the deeper carving with a soft children’s toothbrush.

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Next I moved to the internal cleaning of the stummel and stem. Using EverClear, mortise/shank brushes, stiff/soft pipe cleaners and Q-Tips cleaning until my finial pipe cleaner came out as it went in.

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After the internal cleaning of the chamber I could see the sand pit better. The original filler that had been packed in the pit was crumbling away, using a pick I removed any loose debris from the cavity, cleaning the area one more time with EverClear and let dry. I mixed some pipe mud using cigar ash, a little water and then repacked the pit. I left it to set, once dry I removed the excess with a rag.

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With the pit refilled I decided to use a bowl coating to give the chamber a line of defense while braking the pipe in. I had some premixed bowl coating in a lock&lock leftover from a previous pipe. I have cut and pasted my process for applying the bowl coating from a past post below.

Prepping the chamber before applying the bowl coat, the chamber was scrubbed thoroughly with EverClear during my internal cleaning but I gave it one more round with an EverClear dipped Q-Tip and allowed it to dry, removing any the loose debris from the crack with a pick. I then mixed a little cigar ash and water together to make pipe mud to fill the crack, I applied it with a finger and left to dry. Once the mud was hardened in the crack I wiped the excess from the chamber with a rag. The bowl coating is a three step process starting first with mixing the primer coat. (Step One)- I start with honey about 2.5 ml in an old medicine cup, I add activated charcoal powder a little at a time to the honey and stir with a toothpick until I get the right constancy (it will ball up on its self as the charcoal coasts the honey but continued mixing will combined the two) basically your looking for the toothpick to stand on its own for a few seconds before falling to the side of the cup. I let the mixture settle until the bubbles rise to the top. (Step Two)-I apply a thin layer of the mixture to the chamber with a small flat paint brush, starting from the bottom of the chamber and working up the side walls being careful not to get it on the rim  (If you do get it on the rim warm water and a Q-Tip will remove it just try not to get water in the chamber itself).  There will be quite a bit of primer coating leftover, I store it in a lock&lock and will keep for a while for reuse.

I let the coating set in the chamber for a few minutes just so it looses some of its shine, I then insert a folded pipe cleaner into the airway and lay down a piece of printer paper on my desk top before moving to the next step.(Step Three)- I add a little charcoal powder to the bottom of the chamber and slowly turn the stummel in hand to coat the entire chamber any excess charcoal powder that falls to the paper can be reused. I leave the stummel aside to dry, the chamber should be a dark gray color when completely coated if any dark wet spots reappear repeat step three. When the chamber is well coated and wet spots have not re-emerge I tap the stummel lightly on the side of my finger to remove any leftover charcoal powder. In warm dry conditions I leave the chamber to cure for a couple of days before buffing the stummel, in high humidity it could take up to a week or longer. Once the coating has cured for a few days and is dry to the touch and doesn’t smear (If it does smear and appears wet again repeat step three and let dry) I’ll remove the pipe cleaner, blow out any leftover powder and wait an additional week before packing and puffing. To be honest its a pain and takes a long time to fully cure which is why I avoid it if I can but I believe the clean smooth finish is worth it. All I can say is if you decide to try this bowl coating take your time and be patient, its all trial and error.

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Before oxidation removal I addressed the light chatter.

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Using a Bic lighter I lightly brushed the bit with the flame to raise some of the chatter. Most of the shallow chatter raised what remained could be lightly sanded away.

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With chatter reduced I moved to the stems oxidation. I applied non-bleach Soft Scrub to the stem a left aside so the Soft Scrub could begin to penetrate the oxidation. Once the Soft Scrub turns from white to a brownish color its time to scrub vigorously with a rag adding more Soft Scrub as needed until all oxidation has been removed. (Holding the stem under natural light will help to see if all oxidation has been removed.) It took a few rounds to remove all oxidation.

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Many war time stems were made with recycled rubber and contain small bits of metal spread throughout the stems material, it cannot be removed and I’ve come to except that. After raising most of the chatter there were a few spots that needed attention. I sanded the deeper impressions with 400 grit sandpaper wet and then ran the stem though 800,1000 and 1500 grit sandpaper wet until the stems surface was smooth. I locked the tenon into my vice so I wouldn’t round out the edge of the stem face and would still have a smooth fit between stem and shank.

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After the rough sanding I ran the stem through the various grits of micro-mesh pads 1500-3200 wet and 3600- 12000 dry.

Complete

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I used Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner and a Q-Tip to get into the deeper rusticated areas where the buffing wheel couldn’t reach.I then buffed the stummel on the wheel with a few coats of carnauba and a round on a nude wheel. Buffing the stem with white diamond and carnauba. Hand buffing the pipe as a whole with a microfiber cloth before the photos.

Procure- Restore- Puff- Repeat

Thanks for dropping by-

Tim.

A Dr.Plum Dinky Second?

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Dr.Plumb DINKY.

DINKY is the only stamping on this 4 inch pipe, the only other marking is the word Mexico on the underside of the stem. The stamping is the same as the Dr.Plumb line of DINKY pipes so I would assume its a second or perhaps just an older make as most of the pipes in the Christmas lot are from the 80’s or 90’s. The shape is definitely similar.

 

The Restore

 

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The pipe was in good shape, light chatter and oxidation, rim build up and light cake.

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The chamber was on the small side, I had to utilize the PipNet and Castleford reamers to remove the cake. The chamber was free of any defects.

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With the chamber complete I moved to the rim build up, I applied Method Good For Wood Polish to the rim and left aside to brake down the accumulation of tar and char. Once the build up softened I was able to remove the residue and some of the darkening using Q-Tips.

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Next was the internal cleaning of the stem and stummel, using EverClear, Q-Tips, shank/mortise brushes and stiff/soft pipe cleaners I scrubbed the airway, mortise and chamber with EverClear until my final pipe cleaner came out free of debris.

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The oxidation wasn’t bad on this little guy, I applied non-bleach Soft Scrub to the stem and left aside to penetrate the oxidation, once the Soft Scrub turned from white to a Brownish color I scrub with a rag adding more Soft Scrub as needed until all oxidation was removed (Holding the stem under natural light will help to see if all oxidation has been removed) I used Q-Tips dipped in Soft Scrub to get the oxidation around the bit and in the concave of the saddle bit stem.

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After removing the oxidation the stem look good aside from some light chatter at the bit, I tapped off the bulk of the stem to keep my sanding in one area. I sanded the bit with micro-mesh 1500-2400 wet and 3200-6000 dry, then removing the tape to polish with the final two micro-mesh pads 8000-12000.

Complete

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I finished up on the wheel with white diamond, a few coats carnauba and a round on a nude wheel. Buffing the stem with blue compound and carnauba, Hand buffing with a microfiber cloth just before the photos.

Procure, Restore, Puff, Repeat

Thanks for dropping by-

Tim.

Peterson’s Emerald 150

The grain is incredible and the bulldog is steadily becoming one of my favorite shapes. I’m getting down to the last few from the lot my wife gifted me for Christmas, this is the last Pete from the lot and just as beautiful as the other two. The Emerald line is one I’ll keep an eye out for going forward. The rusticated Emerald 53 I did a couple of posts back is unlike any  other rusticated Pete in my collection the Emerald’s rustication is deep and craggy reminiscent of a weathering coastline, beautiful.

The Emerald 150’s Revival

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The nomenclature is crisp- Peterson’s over Emerald on the left of the shank and made in the Republic of Ireland 150 on the right. The Emerald band still has a tint of green left, the stem is oxidized and shallow chatter. The rim has a little build up, I counted two small fills and the chambers old cake and leftover tobacco.

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I started with the chamber and the PipNet reamer and reamed the cake back using the first two attachments, the chamber was free of cracks or charring.

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Next the rim build up, it was heavy towards the back of the rim. I applied Method Good For Wood polish to the rim and left it to soften the build up. Once the build up softens I scrubbed the area with Q-Tips, I had to repeat this a few times to remove all the build up. I gave the stummel a wipe down with a rag and Method.

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I cleaned the internals of the stem and stummel using EverClear , shank/mortise brushes, stiff/soft pipe cleaners and Q-Tips, cleaning until my final pipe cleaner came out as it went in. The internals were surprisingly clean, well maintained by the previous owner.

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 The bead was intact but stuffed with old carnauba, using an X-Acto knife I carefully removed the old wax then cleaning the area with Method polish.

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There were a few dings in the briar that I steamed out using an iron set to medium heat and a damp rag. I covered the area to be steamed with the damp rag and placed the heated iron on the blemish, it took a few applications to get each ding flush with the existing briar.

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The two fills in the briar to be honest blended fairly well and I was going to leave them be but in the process of steaming out the dings I inadvertently popped out the filler. I applied a drip of Method polish to each fill and left it to soften and once soft I removed the fill with an X-Acto knife and pick. I lightly cleaned the area with EverClear and a Q-Tip. Using a toothpick I applied a small amount of gorilla Glue to the pit and packed with briar dust and left to dry a few minutes.

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With the patch dry I lightly sanded the area first with an emery-board, then 800, 1000 and 1500 grit sandpaper and finishing with a worn 3200 micro-mesh pad. I didn’t re-stain the area the natural finish of the pipe blended with the area of repair, just handling the stummel while working helped blend it further.

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The stubborn Peterson oxidation, I applied non-bleach Soft Scrub to the stem and left it to penetrate the oxidation, once the Soft Scrub turns from white to a brownish color I scrub with a rag adding more Soft Scrub as needed until all oxidation is removed (Holding the stem under natural light will help to see if all oxidation has been removed) I worked on this stem on and off for an hour to remove all oxidation.

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There was a couple of deeper tooth impressions that would need sanding but the bulk of the stem looked good. I taped off the bit so my more abrasive sanding would remain in one area. I sanded the impressions with 400, 800, 1000 and 1500 sandpaper wet until the impressions were flush with the rest of the stem. I then sanded with micro-mesh pads 1500-2400 wet and finished with 3200-6000 dry, I removed the tape for the final two pads and polished the whole stem with 8000 and 12000 dry.

Complete 

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I buffed the stummel with white diamond, a few coats of carnauba and a round on a nude wheel, buffing the stem with white diamond and carnauba. A final Hand buffing with a microfiber cloth before photos.

Happy Hunting, Refurbishing and Puffing.

Tim.

Peterson System Standard 305

 Its funny but sometimes you can surprise yourself , when it comes to pipe refurbishing I’m my number one critic,  sometimes you should leave well enough alone before things get out of hand and you make more work for yourself. In this case I was happy with the finished pipe, I only hope the photos due it justice. This Pete is one more form the lot my wife gifted me for Christmas and so far my favorite. I wish Peterson would bring back there deep craggy rustication, the look and  feel are incredible.

The Pete.

 

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 This System Standard 305 was loved and well enjoyed, chunky cake, stem oxidation, very faint chatter, grime embedded in the crags, loose band and rim build up. So much grime had built up from handling the pipe over the years the stummel appeared black. I have a newer XL 305 and love the way it smokes so this was a great addition.

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I started by reaming the chamber with the PipNet reamer, knowing the pipe had been put though its paces I decided to bring it back to briar. I then lightly sanded the chamber with 400 grit sandpaper. I uncovered one good crack and charring in the left side of the chamber.

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Next the rim build up, I applied a generous amount of Method Good For Wood polish and left it aside to penetrate the old tar and char. Once the build up softened I removed the residue with Q-Tips and a pick to get the crud out of the deeper rustication.

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With the rim clean I moved to the internal cleaning of the stem and stummel. I inserted a cotton ball into the mortise and soaked it in EverClear, I left it aside to brake up the old tars and nicotine. After soaking for an hour or so I cleaned the stummel and stem using EverClear, shank/mortise brushes, Q-Tips and stiff/soft pipe cleaners, cleaning until my final pipe cleaner came out as it went in.

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Forced air heating is a blessing this time of year, a killer on the sinuses but great for bowl coating cure. The bowl coating I use is something I try to avoid if I can, in the summer it can take a week or more depending on the humidity to achieve the right cure but when it cures fully its smooth and rock solid.

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Prepping the chamber before applying the bowl coat, the chamber was scrubbed thoroughly with EverClear during my internal cleaning but I gave it one more round with an EverClear dipped Q-Tip and allowed it to dry, removing any the loose debris from the crack with a pick. I then mixed a little cigar ash and water together to make pipe mud to fill the crack, I applied it with a finger and left to dry. Once the mud was hardened in the crack I wiped the excess from the chamber with a rag. The bowl coating is a three step process starting first with mixing the primer coat. (Step One)- I start with honey about 2.5 ml in an old medicine cup, I add activated charcoal powder a little at a time to the honey and stir with a toothpick until I get the right constancy (it will ball up on its self as the charcoal coasts the honey but continued mixing will combined the two) basically your looking for the toothpick to stand on its own for a few seconds before falling to the side of the cup. I let the mixture settle until the bubbles rise to the top. (Step Two)-I apply a thin layer of the mixture to the chamber with a small flat paint brush, starting from the bottom of the chamber and working up the side walls being careful not to get it on the rim  (If you do get it on the rim warm water and a Q-Tip will remove it just try not to get water in the chamber itself).  There will be quite a bit of primer coating leftover, I store it in a lock&lock and will keep for a while for reuse.

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I let the coating set in the chamber for a few minutes just so it looses some of its shine, I then insert a folded pipe cleaner into the airway and lay down a piece of printer paper on my desk top before moving to the next step.(Step Three)- I add a little charcoal powder to the bottom of the chamber and slowly turn the stummel in hand to coat the entire chamber any excess charcoal powder that falls to the paper can be reused. I leave the stummel aside to dry, the chamber should be a dark gray color when completely coated if any dark wet spots reappear repeat step three. When the chamber is well coated and wet spots have not re-emerge I tap the stummel lightly on the side of my finger to remove any leftover charcoal powder. In warm dry conditions I leave the chamber to cure for a couple of days before buffing the stummel, in high humidity it could take up to a week or longer. Once the coating has cured for a few days and is dry to the touch and doesn’t smear (If it does smear and appears wet again repeat step three and let dry) I’ll remove the pipe cleaner, blow out any leftover powder and wait an additional week before packing and puffing. To be honest its a pain and takes a long time to fully cure which is why I avoid it if I can but I believe the clean smooth finish is worth it. All I can say is if you decide to try this bowl coating take your time and be patient, its all trial and error.

photogrid_1483662468237  As I was waiting for the bowl coating to cure I worked on removing the stem oxidation. I applied non- bleach Soft Scrub to the stem and left it aside, once the Soft Scrub turned from white to a brownish color I started scrubbing with a rag, the oxidation was stubborn as it is with most Petes I’ve run across, each time it looked as if the oxidation was removed and I went to the sink to wash off  the Soft Scrub the stem would instantly turn a brownish tan color and it appeared there was more oxidation now then when I originally started. I started over and went though the same process again but this time I was sidetracked and the stem was pushed back on the desk with the Soft Scrub still on it and there it sat for a day and a half, by the time I sat down to work again the stem was encased in crusty Soft Scrub. This has never happened before an hour at most with Soft Scrub I wasn’t sure what would happen to the stem material, in this case after a good scrubbing the oxidation was all but gone and the stem was left perfect. I was able to buff the stem with white diamond back to a glossy black without the use of micro-mesh, the light chatter was buffed off as well. I’ll have to retry this again to make sure it wasn’t a fluke but I was pretty happy with the results.

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When I received the pipe the bit was cocked to the left, I heated the stem with a Bic lighter moving the flame at all times so not to burn the stem and re-bent it over a bottle.

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Buffing the band with it removed from the stummel was much easier then tapping things off, I buffed the band with Brown Tripoli on the wheel, I was able to remove the pitting and tarnish.

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With the band buffed I reattached it to the shank with a bit of Gorilla Glue holding it in place until dry.

Complete.

 

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The old and the newPipe left 2000’s Peterson System Standard XL 305 Pipe right 1980’s Peterson System Standard 305.

I buffed the stummel with Renaissance Wax and a shoe polish brush , polishing the band with Brown Tripoli  and buffing the stem with white diamond and carnauba.

Thanks Baby and Thanks For Taking A Look.

Tim.

Peterson Emerald 53

I hope everyone had a Happy and safe Christmas, enjoyed family and friends and received some memorable gifts. My memorable gift would come as a lot of estate pipes that my wife snagged as a Christmas gift and after a little digging I saw what she payed and I was even more surprised.

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   Newly listed, new seller (zero feedback) and my wife said she knew at least one in the lot was a Peterson, even if she was wrong it was still a good deal. I had to go back through completed listings to find the original auction and I must say she has a good eye, the photos were poor and the description above offered null. So I guess there are deals to be had on the old bay.

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I was a pretty happy pappy on Christmas morning. Three Peterson’s, a Jobey, a small leather covered Big Ben and a bent little dinky pipe named Dinky. I started with the Peterson Emerald 53, a neat little pipe, tho the emerald band had lost its luster.

The Restore

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Overall the little Pete was in good shape, some rim build up, light chatter and oxidation, the emerald band was now a cream color and a chip at the rim, (highlighted in the above photos).

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I started off with the chamber and my PipNet reamer, starting with the smallest attachment and finishing with the second. The chamber was free of any char/defects.

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Next the rim build up, I applied Method Wood For Good polish to the rim with a Q-Tip and left it aside to penetrate the debris.Once the build up softens its easily removed with Q-Tips.

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Now with the rim clean I moved onto the internal cleaning. Using EverClear, shank/mortise brushes, Q-Tips and stiff/soft pipe cleaners I scrubbed the internals of the stummel and stem until my final pipe cleaner came out as it went in. I wiped down the exterior of the stem with an EverClear dampened makeup pad.

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Now to address the chipped rim. I stated by cleaning the area to be repaired with a Q-Tip dipped in EverClear and removing any loose bits of briar. I then applied a thin layer of Gorilla Glue to the chipped area and then packed with briar dust, I would repeat this process a few times, building layer upon layer of glue and briar dust until I had built up the area just past the existing rim. I now had room to sand the repair without changing the shape of the pipe. With the patch not completely set I lightly sanded the area with an emery board until it was flush with the original rim, using a pick and micro-mesh pads I carefully began to rework the patch to match the original rim and rustication.

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Once the shape and rustication I wanted was achieved I applied Fiebing’s black to the patch and lightly flamed to set the dye, removing the excess with an alcohol dampened Q-Tip. I then lightly polished the area with a worn micro-mesh pad, then going back in with red Fiebing’s dye, lightly flaming once again to set the dye, removing the excess with an alcohol dampened Q-Tip and lightly polishing the area one last time with worn micro-mesh.

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With the stummel complete I moved to the stems oxidation, I applied a generous amount of non-bleach Soft Scrub to the stem and left it to penetrate the oxidation. Once the Soft Scrub turns from white to a brownish color its time to scrub vigorously with a rag adding more Soft Scrub as needed until all oxidation has been removed (holding the stem under natural light will help to see if all oxidation has been removed).

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With the oxidation removed the stem was in fine shape aside from some light chatter, I taped off the bulk of the stem to keep my sanding in one area. Using 1000 grit sand paper wet I began working the area until no visible chatter was left. I then ran the stem though the various grits of micro-mesh 1500-2400 wet and 3200-12000 dry. I removed the tape before polishing the whole stem with 8000 and 12000 mesh pads. (When tapping off a portion of the stem there will be a visible difference between the area of work and the untouched portion, it requires buffing with blue compound to remove the fine sanding marks and will match up once again).

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Now the rustication of the Peterson Emerald is far deeper then the Donegal line, so standard buffing would be disastrous, I went with Renaissance Wax and a shoe polish brush instead. I will say Renaissance Wax is not something I’ll break out that often, its not that the finished pipe isn’t beautiful, its the smell,” I can’t stand the smell ” but the aroma fades with time and leaves behind a beautiful pipe.

Complete

 

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Buffed the stummel with Renaissance Wax and a shoe polish brush, buffing the stem with blue compound.

Thanks For stopping by.

Tim.

Custom-Bilt, Tracy Mincer Patented Filter

My wife picked up this Bilt a couple of weeks ago as an early Christmas present from Mike at Briar Blues . She was thoroughly impressed by his customer service, there was a mix up in shipping and the pipe was shipped from Washington to California and we live in New York. The mix up was caught quickly, corrected and shipped to our front stoop. Now this is something that happens all the time with businesses, so why is this different. The difference is in the way it was handled, the mistake was caught quickly, corrected and we were notified immediately, no excuses were made. Aside from top notch costumer service he has a beautiful selection of pipes for every budget, his descriptions, photos and site layout are spot on, as a first time buyer from his establishment we are more then pleased and will definitely return. If you haven’t already checked out his online shop give it a look Briar Blues.

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The tell tale red dot of the Patented Filter.

The Tracy Mincer Patented Filter, granted to Mincer September 7, 1937 is one of the more interesting pipes made by Mincer, the design is unusual there is an aluminum insert that is held by a small plastic rod at either side of the mortise, usually the rod is red but I have seen black used as well, it can be difficult to spot on heavily rusticated pipes as it was on this Bilt being restored here. This particular Bilt I had an idea was a Patented Filter as it resembled some of the others in my collection but I could not see the tell tale red dot in the photos. The only draw back I’ve found to this Mincer line of pipes is the reverse style tenon, it can be difficult to achieve a tight fit between tenon and stem once the pipe is restored. 

The Restore

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This Custom-Bilt was available in the pipes under $100 section at Briar Blues , when I received the pipe it was partially cleaned, the oxidation had been removed from the stem, the stummel had been buffed and the chamber reamed. The condition of the pipe was decent no major problems, the nomenclature worn but you can still just make it out, the star shape stamp was well stamped on the right side of the shank, very light chatter and a little rim darkening. The internals on this line are a little difficult to clean well due to the filter system and would need a bit more attention.

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 For the most part the rim was clean just a small burn at the back end of the rim and overflow in-bedded in the carved rim. I applied Method Wood For Good polish to the rim and left to penetrate the embedded crud. Once the Method softened the build up I used Q-Tips, a toothbrush and a pick to remove the debris.

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The chamber was pre-reamed when my wife purchased the pipe but there was still a bit of old cake remaining, my first thoughts it could be a burnout but thankfully it wasn’t. Using the old Castleford reamer I removed the last bit of leftover cake, I then gave the chamber a quick once over with EverClear and Q-Tips. Before moving on to the internal cleaning of the mortise and stem I ran a retort to loosen up the old tars and tobacco.

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After the retort I cleaned the internals of the airway, mortise and stem using EverClear, mortise/shank brushes, stiff/soft pipe cleaners and Q-Tips cleaning until my final pipe cleaner came out as it went in. I cleaned the inner of the stem with EverClear and cotton balls.

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The stem oxidation was removed prior to my receiving the pipe but there was still a few tooth indentations, the rest of the stem look good so I taped off the bulk of the stem so my sanding would remain in the damaged area of the stem. I sanded the stem with 800, 1000, 1500 grit sandpaper wet to remove the indentations. I then ran the stem though the various grits of micro-mesh pads 1500-2400 and 3200-6000 dry, I removed the tape before sanding the whole stem with 8000 and 12000. ( There will be a noticeable difference in the finish of the stem after sanding one portion of the stem and leaving the other untouched, I buffed the stem with blue compound at low a speed to remove the fine sanding marks, I’ve had  great results using this process, once buffed the two sides blend perfectly.)

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 After cleaning the old tars from the recessed stem the fit was no longer snug. I use the same process as I do with a standard tenon stem but instead of expanding the vulcanite tenon I am contracting the recessed stem,  I lightly heated the tenon end of the stem with a Bic lighter to contract the vulcanite and checking for a snug fit each time its heated (you have to take your time here as overheating with cause a non-fitting stem quite fast), I had to play with it a bit to get the right fit. For the saddle bit  Patented Filter Custom-Bilt pipes in my collection I use a heat gun on the lowest setting as the stem martial is thicker and more difficult to get it to contract.

Complete

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I finished up on the buffer with carnauba, a round on the nude wheel and a micro-fiber hand buff. Buffing the stem with blue compound.

Thanks For Taking A Look.

Tim. 

Patching A Bite Through

Things have been crazy busy around here the past month, its a little calmer now so I have some time to put up a few posts. Last week A friend messaged me to put together a quick tutorial on stem repair, specifically patching a bite through hole at the bit end. I’ve been re-stemming most pipes so I had a few that would fit the bill. I focused on the patch repair and not so much on the entire stem as I said its out of the junk box so the stem is far from done but I think what lies below will help. Sorry it took so long to put up.

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Before getting started I cleaned the stem inside and out with EverClear, pipe cleaners and makeup pads.

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Next I roughed up the area to be repaired with a flat needle file and 220 grit sandpaper, cleaning the area once again with EverClear to remove the sanding debris.

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Before the damaged area can be repaired the airway must be plugged to prevent it from being glued shut. I use card stock or index cards, folded over on it’s self and cut to fit the airway, once a good fit is achieved I applied a generous amount of original chap-stick to the card stock to keep it from being glued into the airway. ( Vaseline is also good)

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With the stem roughed up, airway plugged and the stem wiped down with EverClear I now mixed thick black CA glue and charcoal powder together to form a paste. I used a 50-50 mix of glue and charcoal powder but you may have to play around with it a bit to get the right consistency.

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You have to work quickly once the paste is mixed as it has a tendency to harden rapidly, with my cardboard plug in place I applied the paste to the damaged area with a toothpick working from the outer edge of the damage to the middle of the hole building it up in layers. Hitting it with accelerator to set the repair, I now left it over night to cure. The end result is much more patch material then was needed but this what you want.

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The next morning after cure time I began to remove layers of the patch with a flat needle file working until I could see a difference in color between the patch and stem material , shaping the button at the same time.

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It’s easy to make a mistake reshaping the button or you may uncover small bubbles in the patch itself, using straight CA glue will cover up any imperfections. Apply the CA glue to the area and hit it with accelerator, this can be reworked right away as long as the area of work is not too deep, in the case of deeper holes more time will be needed to cure.

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Once I achieved the shape I’m looking for I ran the stem through 220 grit sandpaper to remove the deeper file marks, then 400, 800, 1000 and 1500 grit sandpaper wet. Finally I ran the stem though the various grits of micro-mesh 1500-2400 wet and 3200-12000 dry.

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Final step buffing wheel, I buffed with blue compound, carnauba and a round on a nude wheel .In the end the patch blended pretty well but its not always the case.

Hope this helps any questions shoot me a message.

Tim.

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