( EUGENE RICH ) Boxed Custombilt 1946-1952


My wife and father through a joint effort picked this one up for me, it arrived today and I was blown away . I’ve been trying to get my hands on a boxed Custombilt for a few years but they were always just out of reach. This beautiful bulldog is a Eugene Rich era Custombilt very lightly smoked, amazing condition and it came with the original box, paperwork and guarantee. The box was a little rough around the edges not unlike the pipes themselves. This is my first Rich era Bilt and not an ounce of filler, I’m starting to think it’s time to broaden my horizons.

 This is more of a standard clean up then a restoration. I decided to share this clean up because every collector/pipe smoker has there white whale. Whether it be a priceless one of a kind or an inexpensive hard to find piece.

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Sometimes it’s the packaging that needs the work.  This is my first pipe box refurb. Using Q-tips, Method disinfectant and a rag I carefully removed the mold/mildew from the box and set it aside to dry.

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The box is in pretty good shape for almost 70 years old.

( Pipe As Received)

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The pipe was in wonderful condition the mildew that had engulfed the box did not affect the pipe itself. Light chatter, little to no cake and the mortise was spotless. The nomenclature was well stamped , crisp and clear. On the right side of the shank there’s a circle stamped, I was unaware that these stamped shapes were used past Mincers era 1946. There is also the presence of a bowl coating, the first I’ve seen in a Custombilt .


I started with the bowl, cleaning the chamber and mortise with Q-tips, soft pipe cleaners and EverClear. It would not need a ream as I believe it was only smoked once or twice at most. The stem needed a quick once over, I wiped down the stems exterior with EverClear and a cotton ball and cleaned the internals with an EverClear soaked soft pipe cleaner.


The rim and shank needed a little attention. The rim had a small scorch mark and the shank an ink spot. I applied a small amount of Method wood for good polish to the rim and shank and allowed it to soak in for a few minutes, using Q-tips I worked the rim and ink spot.


I was able to completely remove the scorched area and fade the ink spot on the shank. My use of Howard’s conditioner and final buff would hide this spot completely.


Using a Bic lighter I carefully heated the area of the chatter to raise the impressions. (Moving the flame rapidly so not to burn the stem)  I would repeat this process in intervals until all the impressions had risen.


There was a little oxidation present and would still need micro mesh to smooth out the area but the button impressions had risen back to its original shape.( I neglected to take a photo of the oxidation removal ) I applied a generous amount of non-bleach Soft Scrub and scrubbed the stem vigorously with a rag until the oxidation was removed.


I ran the stem through the various grits of micro mesh. 1500-2400 wet and 3200-12000 dry.


I now applied a little Howard’s butcher block conditioner to the bowl with a rag, I let it soak a few minutes and removed the excess with a clean rag.


I finished up with white diamond, carnauba and a micro fiber hand buff.


Not one of my toughest refurbs but definitely one of my favorites.


8 thoughts on “( EUGENE RICH ) Boxed Custombilt 1946-1952”

  1. That is the most handsome Custombilt that I’ve seen. What a bonus to get the box and literature as well. It would have been a shame for that beauty to have languished in that moldy box. Enjoy it!


  2. Congats on a wonderful custombilt from this far end of the world.
    I love it; what is Method wood and what does it exactly do to the wood, bleach it ?
    Is the Howard’s conditioner some kind of oil ?
    Scorch marks are a pain and almost impossible to remove.


    1. Roland-

      Thank you, the Method wood for good polish seems to soften the area of the scorch and or build up ( tars/char ) without removing to much of the original stain. It takes quite a bit of scrubbing of the area to fad or remove the marks and with most pipes I will have to use worn micro mesh pads to remove the damaged area completely or close to it.I leave it to soak on the area I’m trying to remove from 10-20 minutes depending on the severity and I will usually have to repeat the process a few times and it doesn’t work on the scorching on all pipes. It depends on the way the pipe is finished ( clear coat/lacquered ) I’ve had my best results with almost complete removal with pipes like Custombilt or pipes with a similar natural finnish. Pipes with a clear coat or lacquer finnish it will help remove the rim build up without damaging what’s underneath. What it comes down to, there’s no miracle cleaner that works on everything. The Howard’s I only use on Custombilt or pipes similar to them,because its a liquid it gets into the craggy carved rustication on my pipes and its said that it prevents cracking . I’ve been using Howard’s conditioner for a long time in my home and curiosity got me,if it worked so well on the natural wood in my home then why wouldn’t it work on my naturally finished pipes. I’ve had good results and haven’t seen any negative ones yet with both products.

      I took the description for each straight from there web sites.

      Howard’s butcher block conditioner.

      Specialized wood care for butcher blocks, cutting boards, wooden bowls and utensils. The penetrating quality of food-grade mineral oil along with the water-resistant traits of beeswax and carnauba wax rejuvenates the wood and prevents drying and cracking

      Method wood for good.

      the non-toxic, plant-based formula even provides a protective shine.
      Special surfaces deserve special treatment. This non-toxic, plant-based polish safely conditions and revitalizes wood surfaces. And just to be extra nice, it even provides a protective shine. This product is perfect for finished wood surfaces, wood furniture, and cabinets.


      1. Hi Eugene,
        Thank you for the elaborate reply 🙂
        About the Method wood for good; is it the oil soap ( similar to Murphy’s, or the surface cleaner ?


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