Tag Archives: EUGENE RICH

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.


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



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



 Examples of Mincer Era Custom-Bilt Pipes 


 Straight & Saddle Bit Billiards 


 Flat Sided Billiards 




 Lovat & Canadian






 Squat Apple 


 Squat Pot 


 Small Bilts 



 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.

The tell-tale red dot of the patented filter.


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


 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. 


 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 

A Registered mark found on a few Rich era Bilts.






 Saddle Grain 


 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.



 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.



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


 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. 

 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. 


 Rich Era Masterpieces/Sculptured Bowls 

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


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







Military Mount

 Cased Sets



Custombilt reamers, pipe stands, pipe cleaners


 Courtley and Courtley Supreme 

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






 The Pipes



Other nomenclatures used during the Frank era.



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

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.



 Greenwich House Antique

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



 The Doodler




Yorkshire Pipes 

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


 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  


His Nibs ( Custombilt )


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



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


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.


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 )


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


Happy Collecting, Restoring And Puffing.


Custombilt ( Rare Stamping )


This stamping was a puzzler for Bill Unger, as he wrote in his book. It’s equally as puzzling for me, out of the thirty or so in my collection this is the only one with this stamping. Bill found that the stamping was used on what he thought was a Eugene Rich Era and Wally Frank Era Custombilt pipe. My example I could swear is Tracy Mincer Era.
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  I received two pipes from the same seller one marked with the standard Mincer stamp and shape stamp  of a triangle, the other pipe has the rare stamp and a shape stamp of a square. Both pipes are of similar medium size and deep rustication. I have seen sets with two pipes in a claim shell case and I think that’s what I have here, minus the case. Any Custombilt collectors with more information please leave a comment.
Pipe As Received.


Very well-loved, thick cake, oxidation, worn button, rim char, rim tar and worn finish.


I started with my Pipnet Reamer and the smallest attachment working up to the second largest. Finished with 400 grit sandpaper wrapped around a finger.


The rim was embedded with tars ,oils and char. I applied a generous amount of Method Good For Wood Polish to the rim and set aside to penetrate the build-up. I removed the build-up with Q-tips. I removed the rim char and darkening with worn micro-mesh until it faded.


The pipe was heavily smoked, I decided to run a retort using EverClear and cotton balls. I would repeat the process twice to get a good clean.


After the retort I cleaned the internals of the stummel and stem with EverClear, Q-tips, stiff/soft pipe cleaners, a mortise brush and a shank brush. Cleaning until the last pipe cleaner came out clean.


I now turned to the oxidized stem, I applied non-bleach Soft Scrub to the stem with a children’s toothbrush and left it to penetrate the oxidation. Once the Soft Scrub turns from white to a brownish color, I scrubbed vigorously with a rag until the oxidation was removed, finishing up with a damp Magic Eraser to remove the leftover oxidation.


The button was worn down and would have to be built back up. I first taped off the button portion of the stem with blue painters tape so my work would remain in one area. I mixed thick black CA glue and activated charcoal power into a paste .


 I applied the paste to the button with a toothpick, then removing the tape just before hitting with the accelerator. I left it aside for a few hours to cure.


Once the repair had time to cure, I could begin to form the new button. Using needle files I shaped the button to a suitable thickness. I finished up with 400 grit sandpaper wet to remove the file marks.


I now ran the stem through 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. Then finishing up with the rest of the micro-mesh pads 3200-12000 dry.


Just before hitting the wheel I applied Howard’s butcher block conditioner to the stummel with a rag and let it penetrate for a few minutes hand buffing off the excess with a clean rag. The change in coloring of this pipe was incredible after applying the Howard’s Conditioner. I use Howard’s butcher block conditioner on all my Custombilt, Tom Howard, BP Jum and Kaywoodie Handmade pipes before buffing.



 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.

Custombilt Convertibole

Advertisement courtesy of Bill Unger’s book. “As Individual As A Thumbprint” The Custom-bilt Pipe Story.


Custombilt Convertibole

The elusive Convertibole, its taken two long years to hunt this oddity down. They were always just out of reach. I have an addiction to Custom-Bilt / Custombilt Pipes but I’m not willing to brake the bank to add one to my collection. So I was pretty happy when this one went out cheap on EBAY. The Convertibole  first appeared in 1946 and was distributed by Eugene Rich, the interchangeable bowls made ease in changing between blends.  

As Received


She was in rough shape, well used but the price was right and I was up for a challenge. The shank was cracked, a band would have easily fixed the problem but it would also take away from the pipe itself. So a little unconventional fix would have to do.


Starting with the bowls chamber and my Pipnet reamer, I reamed the cake back to briar starting with the smallest attachment and working up to the third, she was free of any defects. I finished up with 400 grit sandpaper wrapped around a finger.


With the chamber reamed, I moved on to the rim and shank. There was a build up of tar/oils on the rim and where the bowl and shank met. I applied Method Wood For Good Polish to the rim and shank area with a Q-tip and let the Method penetrate the build up. Once the Method penetrated the tars/oils it was easily removed with Q-tips and makeup pads.


I did an EverClear and cotton ball soak on the bowls chamber, leaving it aside to allow the cotton balls to absorb the oils and tars.


The internals were next . I did an initial internal cleaning of the mortise and stem with EverClear,Q-tips and bristle/soft pipe cleaners to remove the loose debris. Now I un-rolled cotton balls to form a long swab , using the swab I twisted it into the mortise tightly and added EverClear until the cotton swab absorbed the alcohol and left it aside to pull the tars/oils out. After sitting I did one more good internal cleaning of the mortise and stem, cleaning the exterior of the stem with EverClear and makeup pads.


Now my unconventional shank fix. I cleaned the area of the crack with EverClear and Q-tips and allowed it to dry. I applied Gorilla Glue to the crack on the outer side of the shank and inner of the mortise with a toothpick then packed the outer shank side with briar dust and applied a hose clamp to the shank and tightened the clamp until the crack was closed. I now left it to dry overnight.


The following morning the repair had cured and I was able to begin work on removing the excess glue, first the mortise,leaving the hose clamp in place I used needle files and sandpaper to remove the excess glue until I had a clean surface for the tennon to be inserted once again. The crack had gone through a rusticated area of the shank which was good luck on my part as I was hoping I could blend the repair into the craggy rustication.( Above photo was attempt one to blend.)


 (Top photo was attempt two.) I used touch up markers ,briar dust ,Gorilla Glue and a X-Acto knife to recreate the rustication lost by the repair patch. By my third try I was happy ,it seemed to blend well.(lower photo)


Happy with the repair my attention now turned to the oxidized stem. I applied a generous amount of non-bleach Soft Scrub with a children’s toothbrush and left it aside to begin softening 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. Finishing with a damp Magic Eraser to remove the leftover oxidation.


Using a bic lighter I heated the bit/button portion of the stem to raise some of the chatter ( moving the flame at all times never leaving it in one spot too long). There were two impressions that wouldn’t raise with heat but were shallow enough to remove with sanding.


I tapped off the shank with painters tape so my sanding would remain on the stem and not damage the shank. Starting with the bit/button area and 1000 grit wet sandpaper I removed the stubborn impressions that didn’t raise with heat. I now ran the stem through the various grits of micro-mesh 1500-12000.


Just 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.




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 .

Custombilt Bent Billiard (Rich Era)

The scoundrel Pipes

The pipes I received from fellow blogger Clint of Pipe Scoundrel are complete. They have a new home and are ready to be enjoyed once again. This trio of Bilts has been an eye opener, I believe there will be many more Rich era Custombilts in my future.

The last pipe as received


The nomenclature was stamped unevenly but I could still make out the tell tail (S) of Eugene Rich era Bilts.


The last of the trio a large bent billiard. Much like the last shes in pretty descent shape. The cake is a little thicker, the tennon would need tightening, rim tar&char, there is a little filler present and light chatter.


I started off with the smallest attachment of my Castleford reamer and moving on to the largest that the chamber would except in this case it was one up from the first. I finished up with 400 grit sandpaper. The chamber was free of pitting or the start of a burn out.


Now for the rim, it was thick with tars and build up. I applied a generous amount of Method Good For Wood Polish to a makeup pad and left the stummel upside down so the polish could soften the build up. I would have to repeat this process a couple of times to remove all the debris, using a children’s toothbrush and Q-tips. I have also uncovered a couple of dents on the rim that I will address later on.


With the rim clean I moved to the chamber and mortise. I did a quick clean of the internals with EverClear and Qtips to remove the loose debris. Now the soak, I unrolled a cotton ball and formed a long swab, using the swab I twisted it into the mortise tightly. I now filled the chamber a quarter of the way with EverClear and allowed the swab to absorb the alcohol. Once the alcohol is absorbed I filled the chamber with two cotton balls and added EverClear to the cotton balls untill saturated. I now set the stummel aside while I worked on the stem.


I started the stem by cleaning the exterior first with EverClear and a makeup pad, then the internals with EverClear and stiff/soft pipe cleaners, cleaning until the pipe cleaner came out as it went in.


Now the oxidized stem I applied non-bleach Soft Scrub with a children’s toothbrush and left aside until the Soft Scrub turns from white to a brownish color.


Now the elbow grease, I  now scrubbed the stem vigorously with Soft Scrub and a rag to remove the oxidation


Finishing with a damp Magic Eraser to remove the leftover oxidation. The surface still has a rough texture and would need to be sanded.


The stem had a couple of tooth impressions, using a Bic lighter I heated the area of the impressions (moving the flame at all times never leaving it in one spot too long). I was able to raise a few but one was stubborn and would need filling.


I roughed up the area to be repaired with 400 grit sandpaper, then wiped the area with an alcohol dampened rag. I made a paste using thick black CA glue and activated charcoal power and applied it to the impression with a toothpick, hitting it with accelerator to set the patch.


After allowing time for the paste to cure I removed the excess using a needle file. I smoothed out the repaired area with 400 grit sandpaper .


I now ran the stem though the various grits of sandpaper and micro-mesh 1000-2400 wet and 3200-12000 dry.


The tennon was loose upon receiving the pipe. I used jewelers pliers and a Bic Lighter to expand the tennon from the inside out, by heating the tennon with the lighter and inserting the tip of the pliers into the tennon gradually untill a snug fit between mortise and tennon was achieved.


With the stem complete I moved on to the stummel. After sitting for an hours or so the cotton balls had time to absorb some of the tars. The chamber was clean but I would have to repeat the process on the mortise a few more times. Then finishing up the mortise and draught with  EverClear, Q-tips and stiff/soft pipe cleaners until the pipe cleaners came out clean.


Now to address the rim dents and darkening.


Using a hot iron and a damp rag I steamed the dents out and lightened the rim darkening with worn micro-mesh.


There were three spots of filler present that would have to go.


I applied Method Wood For Good Polish to the filler and let it soften up for a few minutes.


Using a pick and X-acto knife I removed the light colored filler.


I refilled with briar dust and Gorilla Glue and left aside to dry.


I removed the excess glue with worn miro-mesh, then stained the new fill with a touch up marker, lighting up the color to match with an alcohol dampened Q-tip.


I now wiped down the stummel with Method polish and let dry. Next Howard’s butcher block conditioner, using a Q-tip I worked the Howard’s into the crags and then applied Howard’s to the whole stummel letting it penetrate for a few minutes, hand buffing the excess off with a clean rag. She was now ready for a final buff.



Finished her up on the wheel with white diamond, a few coats of carnauba and a microfiber hand buff.


The Gang all together.

 Clint your generosity is greatly appreciated. The pipes are beautiful and right at home in my collection.

Custombilt Clean up (Rich era)

The scoundrel Pipes

Two down one to go it seems fitting to keep plugging away at the pipes I received from fellow blogger Pipe Scoundrel.


Custombilt Eugene Rich Years.


My original impressions of Custombilt pipes was anything post Mincer was not worth my time or efforts but I’ve been wrong before. The change of hands did not necessarily mean a change in quality, yes the dash was eliminated and the rustication was not quiet as deep but big , thick and chunky they still are. I now have four in my ever-growing collection drilled perfect and not one ounce filler to be found. Eugene J Rich INC definitely did the Custombilt name justice.

Pipe As Received


The next was in beautiful used condition and unlike the first was lacking any paint which would make for an easier start. A Little rim tar&char , thin cake and light stem chatter.


I started with my Castleford reamer working from the smallest attachment to the largest that the chamber would accept, in this case it would accept the largest. I brought the chamber back to briar to be able to see the start of a burn out, I found only slight pitting on the inner wall on one side. After reaming I sanded the chamber with 400 grit paper until the pitting smoothed out. I could now work on the build up on the rim. I applied a generous amount of Method Good For Wood Polish with a Q-tip to the rim and left it aside to penetrate the tars.


The build up on the rim was quite thick towards the shank and would need more time to sit. I applied another helping of Method polish to the rim and left the stummel upside down on a makeup pad for 20 minutes. After sitting the 20 minutes the rest of the build up was easier to remove. I was now left with a little rim darkening.


Using worn micro-mesh I was able to fade most of the darker spots.


With the chamber and rim free of crud I could now move on to the internals. I did a quick clean of the mortise and chamber with EverClear soaked Q-tips to loosen up the residual residue. Next I rolled two cotton balls, twisted them together to form one long swab and twisted it tightly into the mortise. With the swab inserted in the mortise I filled the chamber a quarter of the way with EverClear and allowed the swab to absorb the alcohol.


Once the swab absorbed the EverClear I filled the chamber with two cotton balls and added EverClear to the chamber until the cotton balls are saturated. I left the stummel aside  now so the cotton balls can absorb the tars and any ghosting.


With the stummel set aside I moved to the stem, first cleaning the externals with EverClear and makeup pads.


Now I applied non-bleach Soft Scrub to the stem with a children’s toothbrush and left it so the Soft Scrub could work its magic on the oxidation. I allow the Soft Scrub to turn from white to a brownish color before scrubbing vigorously with a rag. From the photo above you can see it removed 90% of the oxidation. I now used a damp Magic Eraser to remove the rest. The surface of the stem was left with a rough texture and would still need to be sanded. Before moving on I cleaned the internals of the stem with EverClear and stiff/soft pipe cleaners until the last pipe cleaner came as it went in.


There were shallow tooth impressions at the bit/button area that raised a bit by heating the area with a Bic lighter (moving the flame at all times never leaving it in one spot too long). The stem was now ready for sanding.


I sanded the stem first with 1000 grit wet sandpaper then 1800, 2000, 2400 wet moving on to the dry 3200-12000. Ready for the buffing wheel.


Moving back to the stummel,  after sitting while working on the stem it had time for the EverClear and cotton balls to pull the tars and old tobacco out of the mortise and chamber. I gave it a good cleaning now with EverClear, Q-tips, cotton balls and stiff/soft pipe cleaners, cleaning until the last pipe cleaner came out as it went in.


I now cleaned the exterior of the stummel with Method Good For Wood Polish and allowed it to dry.


With all my CustomBilts I add a little Howard’s butcher block conditioner just before the final buffing on the wheel. I used a Q-tip to get the Howard’s into the deeper crags


I then apply Howard’s to the whole stummel and allow it to penetrate for a few minutes and hand buffing off the excess. She could now receive a final buffing.



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

Another beautiful addition to my Custombilt collection and a pleasure to clean up.

( 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.