Category Archives: Custom-Bilt/Custombilt

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.

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.

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. 

His Nibs ( Custombilt )

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The List

Everyone has his or her own, a list of pipes he or she desires to complete a collection. For me its Custom-Bilt and Custombilt pipes, I’ve been collecting these ugly, chunky, roughly carved pieces of briar for a long time and just recently stopped to take a look at what I really had. Originally it was Custom-Bilt pipes ( Tracy Mincer years ) and I had to have everyone I could get my hands on, I’ve redone many. Then Custombilt ( Eugene Rich years ) and a whole new line of pipes went on the list , many hard to find these days and finally the Wally Frank years still Custombilt but the nomenclature had changed, similar to the Rich era nomenclature but the standard S had been dropped for a cursive S. So this brings me to the His Nibs, introduced in 1947 by Mincer and Rich, at 4 inches long its certainly not the biggest Bilt but carved with the same care, retail price just $2.00, worth every penny. My wife picked this one up on Ebay, at last I could cross it off my list, many pop up but I’m picky the nomenclature is hard to find well stamped, sometimes its lightly stamped and other times its off and stamped half on the briar and half on the stem, this one is spot on beautiful. 

The restore

 

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The pipes was in great shape, very light chatter, a couple deeper tooth impressions, rim build up and one spot of filler.

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I started with chamber and my PipNet reamer starting with smallest and working up to the largest the chamber would except, in this case the third largest, it has a generous chamber for a 4 inch pipe. I took it back to bare briar to make sure things were solid.

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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 residue. Once the Method works its magic on the build up it is removed with Q-Tips and a children’s toothbrush. There was some rim burn percent after removing the residue, I used worn micro-mesh to lighten it up. ( 3200, 3600, 4000 and 6000 pads )

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With the rim complete I turned my attention to the internals of the pipe. Cleaning the chamber, airways and mortise using EverClear, shank & mortise brushes, stiff/soft pipe cleaners and Q-Tips, cleaning until my finial pipe cleaner came out as it went in.

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Now I gave the stummel a good cleaning with Method Wood For Good Polish and a children’s toothbrush to remove the oils and embedded debris in the briar.

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There was one spot of filler top left photo ) its hard to see but its there, once it was removed the pit was a perfect rectangle, I was tempted to leave it because it was unique but filling it would give it a cleaner look or as clean a look as a Custombilt could have. I cleaned the area to be repaired with EverClear and a Q-Tip,filled the pit with Gorilla Glue and briar dust, I then left it aside to dry. Once dry I lightly sanded the area with worn micro-mesh, re-stained with a dark touch-up marker, removing the excess with an alcohol dampened Q-Tip.

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After staining the filled area I realized the whole stummel could be re-stained, using a dark brown touch-up maker I stained the deep crags.

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While in the process of removing the excess stain I also re-stained the whole pipe, leaving the deeper carvings darker and the rest of the stummel a lighter shade. Handling the stummel while working on the stem colored the it further, the end result was perfect.

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The stem was a little oxidized and had a couple of deeper tooth impressions that needed filling. To remove the 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, adding more Soft Scrub as needed.    ( holding the stem under natural light will help to see if all oxidation has been removed ) I now gave the stem an EverClear wipe down before filling the tooth impressions. I mixed thick black CA glue along with a little charcoal powder to form a paste, I applied the paste with a toothpick, hitting it with accelerator to set the patch and leaving it over night to cure. The following morning I ran the stem though the first three micro-mesh pads 1500-2400 wet.

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I now ran the stem though the finial six grits of micro-mesh 3200-12000 dry  During the sanding I uncovered a few pores/bubbles in the rubber stem, there were far to many to attempt to fill, I’ll call them character marks.

Complete

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I finished up on the wheel with a few coats carnauba and a micro-fiber hand buff, buffing the stem with blue compound and carnuauba.

It was a pleasure to cross this one off the list.

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Happy Collecting, Restoring And Puffing.

Tim.

A Pipe For Poppy.

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Custombilt Oom Paul.

My daughter lovingly calls my father Poppy they have been inseparable since her birth 11 years ago , my fathers pretty incredible ,give ya the shirt off his back, drop everything to help in anyway and give ya his last dime if you needed it. Almost a year ago we had a scare, while hanging out at our house Dad suffered a mini-stroke. Doctors said it wasn’t as severe as other strokes but nevertheless it scared the hell out of all of us. It took him sometime to get back to the way he was before. Now doctors say hes as healthy as a horse ,so he has decided to take up the pipe once again after a thirty year hiatus. He picked a pipe from the wall to start with a bent Grabow with a spoon stinger , one of the first if not the first pipe I had redone years ago. I then told him I would like to redo a Custombilt that was similar to a Tom Howard he had liked. So that brings me to A Pipe For Poppy , a Wally Frank era Bilt Oom Paul. Shes been in the to do rack going on three years I would start but lose interest and put her back but now I had a reason to complete it. I gave him the pipe yesterday and his eyes lit up, needless to say he was very happy with finished pipe.

The Restoration.

 

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The pipe had been started and stopped a few times since I received it, so the reaming and internal cleaning had already been done previously. The chamber was free of pitting, there were a few tooth impressions and oxidation on the stem.The previous owner had carved a P into the bottom of the stummel. The pipe is for my farther and my daughter calls him poppy so the P is fitting but too tacky for my taste.

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My attention was drawn first to the P caved in the bottom of the stummel,  luckily it wasn’t to deep. Starting with 220 grit sandpaper I removed the bulk of the self carving, then moving to 400, 800 and finished with 1000 grit sandpaper.

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I lightly sanded the stummel with 800 grit sandpaper then gave the stummel a wipe down with an EverClear soaked rag to remove the fine sanding dust.

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Before hitting the buffer I applied a coat of Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner , I applied using a Q-Tip then leaving it aside to penetrate, removing the excess with a clean rag.

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I applied a generous amount of non-bleach Soft Scrub to the stem and  left it aside for the Soft Scrub to soften the oxidation. Once the Soft Scrub turns from white to brownish color its time to scrub vigorously 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 I focused on the tooth impressions , the rest of the stem was in good shape so I taped off the bit/lip area of work with blue painters tape so my sanding would remain in this area. I removed the deeper impressions with a flat sided needle file. I removed the rough file marks with 400,800 and 1000 sandpaper wet.

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I now ran the stem though the various grits of micro-mesh 1500-2500 wet and 3200-12000 dry ,polishing to a shine.

Complete.

20160525202327~220160525202354~220160525202422~220160525202443~220160525202452~220160525202507~2 I finished up on the wheel with white diamond , carnauba and a micro-fiber hand buffing. Buffing the stem with blue compound and carnauba.

I’m looking forward to the first smoke.

Thanks for everything Dad.

Thanks For Taking A Look.

Tim-

  

Custom-Bilt (90% smooth)

Custom-Bilt 

An almost completely smooth Custom-Bilt an oddity I’ve wanted for my collection for some time . I have read of completely smooth Bilts (which I have yet to see or find) and partially rusticated Custom-Bilts,  I’ve seen a few photos of the partially rusticated pipes but never had the chance to get my hands on one. So when this puppy popped up a few weeks ago on EBay at a reasonable price I jumped all over it. Now I won’t go into the history of Tracy Mincer and Custom-Bilt pipes as I have written a few posts on the subject in the past but I must say I’m more and more impressed with each one I receive.

The Restoration. 

 

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The pipe for its age was in pretty good shape, ether it was well taken care of or it has seen little use. The chamber was free of cake and the mortise was fairly clean, the rim was the only issue a little beat up. The stem was oxidized , had a few tooth impressions and a ding in the side of the stem.

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The chamber being as clean as it was, it would not need a reaming but just a quick sanding with 400 grit sandpaper to remove a little doddle .

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I attempted to steam out the dents in the rim using a household iron and damp rag but the indentations were to deep.

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The rim would need to be topped , I tape a sheet of 400 grit sandpaper to my work surface and began sanding the rim until smooth . I then sanded with 800 and 1000 grit sandpaper until I had a mirror finish.

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I gave the stummel and stem internals a good cleaning using EverClear , shank and mortise brushes , Q-tips , cotton balls and soft/stiff pipe cleaners. I un-roll cotton balls and form a swab then twist it tightly into the mortise , then fill the chamber with a little EverClear and allow the swab to absorb the alcohol. I leave it to sit for for a few minutes to brake up the old tars and oils in the mortise. 20160510_144933~2

Using furniture touch-up markers I re-stained the stummel and freshly topped rim , leaving it aside to dry. I removed the excess stain with an alcohol dampened rag.

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Usually I wait till the end to buff the stummel and stem but this one I couldn’t wait to see finished . There are imperfections in the briar , a few pits and places that could have been filled but I decided it gave this particular pipe character.

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The stem oxidation was the next task, I appalled a generous amount of non-bleach Soft Scrub to the stem and left it aside 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. Holding the stem under natural light will help to see if all oxidation was removed.

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When I received the pipe the stem and shank fit were off , the briar inside of the mortise was pushed up by the tenon and forming a wall that the tenon could not pass in-turn leaving a gap. Using a half round needle file I removed the excess briar , the fit was better but not flush , I then filed down the tenon edge and rounded it off with 400 grit sandpaper to get the proper fit.

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I tried to raise some of the tooth impressions with heat to no avail. I mixed thick black CA glue and charcoal powder into a paste and applied it to the stem with a toothpick , hitting it with accelerator to set the glue , leaving it overnight to cure.

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The next morning after allowing time for the patch to cure I removed the excess glue with a flat needle file.

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I removed the file marks with sandpaper starting with 400 grit and ending with 1500 grit sandpaper. I started saving the windows out of selling packages for my stem/shank divider , like the kind in kids toy packaging. Its flexible and seems like I can get a little closer to the end of the stem , closer then I would with a washer.

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I now ran the stem though the various micro-mesh pads.

Complete.

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I finished up with white diamond , a few coats of carnauba and a micro fiber hand buff. Buffing the stem with blue compound and carnauba.

Thanks For Taking A Look.

Tim.

Custom-Bilt Dublin ( Mincer Years )

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The last of my medium Custom-Bilt refurbs . I have always enjoy the Dublin shape and in the Custom-Bilt carving it looks even better.
As Received.

 

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She was in well-loved condition, chatter, a couple of deep tooth impressions, rim tar and char and the nomenclature was worn to almost non-existent. The tell tail Custom is all that’s left .

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The chamber was pre-reamed by the previous owner/seller, I smoothed things out with 400 grit sandpaper wrapped around a finger. The chamber was free of damage.

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Next I tackled the caked rim I applied a generous amount of Method Good For Wood Polish to the rim with a Q-tip and allowed it to penetrate for a few minutes, removing the build-up with Q-tips and makeup pads. I would repeat this process a few times.

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The internals needed attention. Using EverClear, Q-tips , shank brushes and stiff soft pipe  I cleaned the internals of the mortise and chamber ,until the pipe cleaners came out as they went in.

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Using an alcohol dampened makeup pad, I wiped down the stummel to remove the dirt and debris.

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With the stummel clear of dirt and grime, I used a dark touch up marker to highlight the deep gouges, removing the excess with an alcohol dampened makeup pad. I could now move on to the stem

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I applied non-bleach Soft Scrub to the stem with a children’s toothbrush and left it 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 until the oxidation is removed.

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After the removal of the oxidation there were deep tooth impressions left. I attemped to raise some of the impressions with heat( moving the lighter at all times never leaving it in one spot too long ) to no avail. Instead they would need to be filled.

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Using thick black CA glue and activated charcoal powder I made a paste. I roughly sanded the area to be repaired with 400 grit sandpaper then wiped down with EverClear. I applied the paste with a toothpick to the impressions and hit it with accelerator to set the repair, I applied pressure with my finger to the patch pressing it into the impression just before it set. I now left it aside to cure overnight.

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The following morning I began sanding the repair with 400 grit sandpaper wet , with the patch blended into the stem I could move on to the various grits of sandpaper and micro-mesh pads.

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Using a washer between the stummel and stem to keep my sanding in one area, I now ran the stem through the various grits of sandpaper and micro-mesh pads starting with 800 grit sandpaper wet, 1000 grit sandpaper wet, 1500 mesh wet, 1800 mesh wet, 2000 grit sandpaper wet and 2400 mesh wet , then 3200- 12000 micro-mesh dry.

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Before hitting the wheel I applied Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner with a rag and let it penetrate for a few minutes, removing the excess with a clean rag.

Complete

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I finished up on the wheel with white diamond, a few coats of carnauba and a microfiber hand buffing. Buffing the stem with blue compound.

Thanks For Taking A Look.

 

Custom-Bilt Billiard

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Many of the Custom-Bilt pipes in my collection are on the larger side but lately the medium size Bilts have caught my eye. This billiard is the first I’ve seen and I couldn’t wait to see her finished.
As Received.
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She was in rough shape when I received her.  Most disappointing was the cracked tennon,  thankfully it still had its little rubber filter insert and I thought it might be salvageable.  The bit had deep tooth impressions that almost punched through. The button was worn down and the stem was oxidized. The rim was caked with dirt,oils and char. The chamber had a thick crumbling cake and the mortise was plugged with old tobacco and tars.
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I started with my Pipnet Reamer and the smallest attachment working up to the second largest, finishing up with 400 grit sandpaper wrapped around a finger. The chamber was well-preserved from the thick cake.
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Next I tackled the caked rim. I applied a generous amount of Method Good For Wood Polish to the rim and set it aside to penetrate the build-up for a few minutes removing the build-up with Q-tips , I would repeat this process a few times. After the removal of the rim build-up There were a few dings in the rim. Using a household iron on medium high/ heat and a damp rag I steamed out the imperfections working in intervals until the imperfections were almost gone. I finished up with worn micro-mesh until the rim was free of darkening and dings.
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Next was the cracked tennon, I fit The opposite end of a 3/16 inch drill bit into the tennon, making sure I had a tight fit.I mixed thick black CA Glue and activated charcoal power into a paste I then applied a generous amount of chapstick to the drill bit end so the CA Glue would not adhere to the bit but would adhere to the tennon only. I applied a thin layer of the CA Glue mixture to bridge the gap where the missing tennon piece was , hitting it with accelerator to set up the glue, I removed the drill bit at this time.
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With the drill bit removed I now applied several layers of the CA Glue mixture to build up the missing section of the tennon, spraying with accelerator in between each layer I added, until I had a close match to thickness of the existing tennon.
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Once my thickness goal was reached I left the tennon to cure for a few hours. After curing I worked the new tennon with needle files carefully removing the excess glue until I had a close match to the remaining section of the tennon.
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I now worked the new tennon with 400 grit sandpaper until I had a close fit between mortise and tennon, making my finishing adjustments with 1000 grit sandpaper until I had a snug fit between mortise and tennon. I then re-worked the inner of the tennon with a round needle file and rolled-up 1000 grit sandpaper so I could re-fit the rubber filter insert.
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This Custom-Bilt had two spots of pretty visible filler. Using Method Wood For Good Polish to soften up the filler and a X-ACTO knife, I removed the filler.
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I cleaned the area to be repaired with EverClear and Q-tips. I filled the pits with Gorilla Glue and briar dust and left aside to dry. Once dry I removed the excess glue and dust with worn micro-mesh until the repair disappeared into the rustication.
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I used a  dark furniture marker to darken the rusticated area’s of the stummel to further guarantee my repair would stay hidden.
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With the outer of the stummel complete I moved to the internals, cleaning the mortise and chamber with EverClear, Q-tips, shank brushes and stiff/soft pipe cleaners, cleaning until the last pipe cleaner came out as it went in.
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I attempted to raise some of the deep tooth impressions with heat, some of the button raised but most of the impressions would still have to be filled.
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Next the stem oxidation, I applied a generous amount of non-bleach Soft Scrub to the stem with a children’s toothbrush and left it aside to penetrate the oxidation. Once the Soft Scrub turns from white to a brownish color its time to scrub vigorously with a rag until the oxidation is removed.
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The deep tooth impressions had to be repaired, I roughly sanded the area of repair with 400 grit sandpaper and wiped down with EverClear. I mixed thick black CA Glue and activated charcoal power into a paste .
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I applied the paste to the impressions and worn button using a toothpick hitting it with accelerator to set the patch, I set the stem aside now to cure overnight. The following morning after the paste had time to cure, I used needle files and sandpaper to remove the excess glue until I had a uniformed shape.
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I sanded the entire stem with 400 grit sandpaper wet to remove the file marks and then moved on to the various grits of sandpaper and micro-mesh. 1000 grit sandpaper wet, 1500 mesh wet, 1800 mesh wet, 2000 grit sandpaper wet and 2400 mesh wet. Runing though the remaining micro-mesh pads dry 3200-12000.
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My final step for all my Custombilt pipes is to apply Howard’s butcher block conditioner to the stummel before buffing. I apply Howard’s butcher block conditioner with a rag and allow it to penetrate for a few minutes hand buffing off the excess with a clean rag.
Complete.

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I finished her up on the wheel with white diamond, a few coats of carnauba and a microfiber hand buffing Buffing the stem with blue compound.
Thanks For Taking A Look.

CUSTOM-BILT / CUSTOMBILT CRAZY

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    Collecting focus- everyone needs one, right ? I’ll be the first to admit I might have a problem, but when I first started I had no direction, just buying up lots of estate pipes Willy Nilly. Two years ago I had over 300 hundred pipes, a few of them Custombilt ( before the bug really bit ) but nothing to right home about, nothing eye-catching, no real attachment. So my first step was to unload the clutter, donating and selling off what didn’t belong. I’ve never been a fan of dainty pipes, I’m a big guy and well it just looks silly, its kinda like
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So smaller pipes would go first. What was left was starting to grab me. My introduction into large pipes began with Ropp cherrywood pipes, the rustic look originally sold me, being from the Adirondacks it seemed fitting but with time things loosened up at the shank and bowl. I have one un-somoked large cherrywood Ropp left. Than came Tom Howard and B P Jum  pipes, this was the turning point, large and interesting, fit my face pipes. The only draw back was the overuse of filler in both Howard’s and Jum pipes, riddled like bullet holes. Then finely Custom-Bilt it was like being a kid again I couldn’t resist large, ugly and roughly carved. I had to get them all, each one no mater how closely they resemble one another are completely different. The next few refurbs will be Custombilt pipes as I have many waiting in line to be revived. I need to take photos of my complete collection, I’m not really sure how many I have at this point. 
Heres one more.
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Overall she was in good condition,  uneven cake, a chip out of the side of the bowl, stem oxidation and faded finish.
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I started with my Pipnet Reamer and the smallest attachment and working up to the second largest. The chamber was free of burn out or pitting, I smoothed things out with 400 grit sandpaper wrapped around a finger.
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With the chamber reamed I moved to the rim build up, the rim was built up with tars and char. I applied a generous amount of Method Good For Wood Polish to the rim and set aside to penetrate the build-up for a few minutes. Using Q-tips I removed the build-up, I would repeat this process a few times.
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To remove the char and darkening I used worn micro-mesh until the rim darkening was faded. I now cleaned the internals of the stummel and stem with EverClear, Q-tips, shank brushes and stiff/ soft pipe cleaners. Cleaning the mortise and chamber until the pipe cleaners came out as they went in
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I gave the stummel an alcohol wipe down with EverClear and makeup pads to remove the dirt and debris
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The chip in the side of the bowl would be repaired with Gorilla Glue and briar dust. I cleaned the area of repair with EverClear, Q-tips and let dry. I filled the crack with Gorilla Glue and briar dust and allowed it to dry, I removed the excess glue and dust with worn micro-mesh.
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I stained the repair patch with a dark furniture marker allowed it to dry and removed the excess stain with an alcohol dampened rag.
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Now for the stem oxidation, I applied a generous amount of non-bleach Soft Scrub to the stem with a children’s toothbrush and set aside to penetrate the oxidation.Once the Soft Scrub turns from white to a brownish color its time to introduce the old elbow grease and scrub vigorously with a rag until the oxidation is removed.
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With the oxidation removed I could now run it though the various grits of sandpaper and micro-mesh pads. 1000 grit sandpaper wet, 1500 mesh wet, 1800 mesh wet, 2000 grit sandpaper wet and 2400 mesh wet. The remaining micro-mesh pads dry 3200-12000.
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I don’t typically stain my Custom-Bilt pipes but I thought I’d give it a go. Using a dark furniture marker for the rusticated area’s of the stummel and a lighter color marker for the rest of the stummel, removing the excess stain with an alcohol dampened rag.

Complete.

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Finished her up on the wheel with white diamond, a few coats of carnauba and a microfiber hand buffing Buffing the stem with blue compound.
Thanks For Taking A Look.