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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.