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1938 BBB Silver-Mounted Poker Restoration [Pic Heavy]

(46 posts)
  1. piffyr

    piffyr

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    Sometimes, a pipe can be loved too much. Take this 1938 BBB poker for example. It appears that the previous owner was so proud of it that he displayed it prominently in an area exposed to direct sunlight. That’s great for public viewing, but not so good for wood finishes and vulcanite stems. The stummel was extremely sun-bleached. The only areas that held their original color were the bottoms of the bowl and shank. Since I had been asked to restore the pipe to as like new condition as possible, those would areas would function as my color swatches to match the original finish.







    RESPECT THE PIPE!
    Posted 1 year ago #
  2. piffyr

    piffyr

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    The only structural damage was beneath the silver cap where there were significant cracks at approximately the 4, 6, and 8 o’clock positions.

    The cap had done a fair enough job of holding everything together thus far, but it was obvious that the it wasn’t form fitting at the very end. The space between the cap and the shank had allowed the wood to flex too far and fracture. So, two different types of adhesive were required to stabilize the cracks. The first was a thin epoxy that I could work into the fissures before clamping them together to bring the shank back into shape. The second was a gap-filling epoxy paste that was applied between the cap and shank. That would fill in the void and prevent any flex and stress in the future.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  3. piffyr

    piffyr

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    When all was said and done, this was the pipe…







    This pipe was part of a batch of four that came in for some restoration work and, believe it or not, it’s probably the runt of the litter. I’ll try to get the other three posted within the next few days.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  4. addamsruspipe

    addamsruspipe

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    That is some outstanding work. Very nice.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  5. jjmitchem

    Jim (Chap)

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    Beautiful!!

    - Chap
    “A pipe is the fountain of contemplation, the source of pleasure, the companion of the wise; and the man who smokes, thinks like a philosopher and acts like a Samaritan.”
    -Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
    Posted 1 year ago #
  6. nevadablue

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    I will say WOW! Beautiful work.

    Thank you so much for illustrating your repair methods too. This newbie is learning by looking at the pictures.

    ---
    Ken
    Posted 1 year ago #
  7. didimauw

    didimauw

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    This makes me happy. I love what you did with that pipe!

    However, I enjoyed the before pictures better! Muahahaha

    "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. pitchfork

    pitchfork

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    Anthony, that is amazing work. Wow.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. pitchfork

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    BTW, I'm almost certain that's a 1913/1914 BBB, not 1938/1939. The Birmingham O's and P's can be really hard to tell apart sometimes, but given the nomenclature, the color of the stain, and the design, I think that's an older one. Theoretically, the inside of the O should have straight sides on the 1913/14 letter and a more oval shaped middle on the 1938/9 O, but that's not always the case.

    This BBB with Glokar stem, for example, dates to 1913/14, but the O looks an awful lot like the later 1938/9 O. However, I've never seen a Glokar stem from that late and I think it went out of production sometime in the 20s.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. tslex

    tslex

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    What a tremendous job of work.

    Well done.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. georged

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    ^ standing ovation

    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 1 year ago #
  12. piffyr

    piffyr

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    @didimauw -- No worries, man. I like "before" photos too. I also like "cleaning" photos...

    Both can have a sort of dissonant beauty.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  13. piffyr

    piffyr

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    BTW, I'm almost certain that's a 1913/1914 BBB, not 1938/1939. The Birmingham O's and P's can be really hard to tell apart sometimes, but given the nomenclature, the color of the stain, and the design, I think that's an older one. Theoretically, the inside of the O should have straight sides on the 1913/14 letter and a more oval shaped middle on the 1938/9 O, but that's not always the case.

    Thanks for that, Wes! I had originally pegged the date as 1913, but when I looked at the date hallmark for 1938 I changed my mind. You're right, the hallmarks are very similar for those years. The other three pipes in the batch came from the same source and they are all late pre-war or early post-war pipes. So, I thought 1938 to be the most likely of the two, but now I'm not so sure.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  14. pitchfork

    pitchfork

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    The other three pipes in the batch came from the same source and they are all late pre-war or early post-war pipes. So, I thought 1938 to be the most likely of the two, but now I'm not so sure.

    Hmm... that would give one pause. Still, the only "Own Makes" I've seen with that style of nomenclature that could be from the later period have had O's and Ps, which makes me think they're actually the older date letters that happen to be ambiguous, whether from wear or from the actual stamp used.

    Anyway, still just marveling at the transformation on this one.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  15. dmcmtk

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    Wes, the cartouche for AF&Co on your pipe looks a little smaller, and rounded at the corners maybe...? I'm also looking at the distance between the bottom of the O and the edge of the it's cartouche on both set of marks...? Thoughts? I might consider the relative positions of the BBB and AF& Co, but that would entail expecting consistency of the markings on British pipes...

    Dave
    Duke Street Irregular
    Posted 1 year ago #
  16. pitchfork

    pitchfork

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    Wes, the cartouche for AF&Co on your pipe looks a little smaller, and rounded at the corners maybe...? I'm also looking at the distance between the bottom of the O and the edge of the it's cartouche on both set of marks...? Thoughts?

    They look straight-edged to me. The cartouche is supposed to be the same for both sets of letters, though. As for the distance between the letter and the edge of the cartouche, I just never can tell. Your eyes are usually sharper than mine, though!

    I've seen so many look-alikes for Os and Ps, that I tend to go with what I think is the age of the particular design. Here's another Birmingham O that I'm fairly certain is an older pipe (i.e. 1913/14). I don't believe that BBB was making amber-stemmed, cased meers as late as 1938, but can't be sure. To my eyes, it just looks like it's an older pipe.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  17. saltedplug

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    The integrity of these pipes for enduring the degradations of time and their resurrection is truly to be admired.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  18. bluegrassbrian

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    Piffyr, I'm not calling you a liar but... are you sure that's the same pipe?

    Tobacco's a help because it clears the mind
    But like all your friends it is vilified
    They always say, the right amount's fine
    Posted 1 year ago #
  19. bonanzadriver

    bonanzadriver

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    Absolutely outstanding work!

    Kudos

    Dino

    Posted 1 year ago #
  20. scrooge

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    Pure Artistry in motion.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  21. wizhunter

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    You are one Talented guy Piffyr, that pipe looks amazing,i looked at the rim in one of the first pictures and thought it would never clean up,i have turned away Grabows (that i really want) because they have had rims that actually looked better than the one you have done.I would love to be able and confident enough to do work such as yours...Bravo.

    Wiz

    Posted 1 year ago #
  22. barepipe

    barepipe

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    Beautiful job man! That looks great.

    Bare Pipe

    Twitter: @Barepipes
    Posted 1 year ago #
  23. ssjones

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    Gorgeous, I can't wait to see the Comoy's for those stems!

    Al

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    achtman

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    They look straight-edged to me. The cartouche is supposed to be the same for both sets of letters, though. As for the distance between the letter and the edge of the cartouche, I just never can tell. Your eyes are usually sharper than mine, though!

    I've seen so many look-alikes for Os and Ps, that I tend to go with what I think is the age of the particular design. Here's another Birmingham O that I'm fairly certain is an older pipe (i.e. 1913/14). I don't believe that BBB was making amber-stemmed, cased meers as late as 1938, but can't be sure. To my eyes, it just looks like it's an older pipe.

    Hi Wes, since both of them are my pipes, and I've actually had a chance to look at them, let me put in my two cents.

    I don't think I could tell the difference between the shape of the O used in 1918 or 1938. And BBB was making pokers that looked identical to this shape in several sizes back in the 1912 catalog. So it could be 1918. But the slot in the button looks too modern. It is not orific or semi-orific or anything like the slots in any of my older BBB's. And the button looks very modern as well. Anthony has included pictures of the slots in both the pre- and post-pictures.

    If you need pictures of other BBBs from the interim period, there are some pictures of my older BBBs on Pipedia under BBB.
    And if this works, here are some photos
    My old BBBs. Bottom row is port 1940

    Now if this were a Dunhill, I probably wouldn't be as sure because as far as I can tell their slots looked modern back in 1923. But my feeling about BBB is they were sort of slower.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  25. cynicismandsugar

    Jeffrey Deal

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    Amazing work! And that pipe is gorgeous.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    achtman

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    Gorgeous, I can't wait to see the Comoy's for those stems!

    Al

    Hi Al,
    here is a glamour teaser from the three Comoy's. I'll let Anthony post the other pictures because it was his work.

    Comoy's Extraordinaire 499

    Mark

    Posted 1 year ago #
  27. ssjones

    ssjones

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    That 499 looks incredible

    Posted 1 year ago #
  28. piffyr

    piffyr

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    That 499 looks incredible

    That's not even its good side, Al.

    Coming soon...

    Posted 1 year ago #
  29. theloniousmonkfish

    theloniousmonkfish

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    Top notch work on a stout beauty. Wouldn't expect any less.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  30. danielplainview

    dave g

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    Good lord! That’s a stunner.

    Make aromatics great again.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  31. cynicismandsugar

    Jeffrey Deal

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    I can't stop coming back to this post to sneak another peek at that poker. You did an outstanding job, sir.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  32. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    Hell, yeah. Extraordinary!

    Was the stem loose in the mortise? Do you think the cracks were perhaps caused by drying over the years?

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  33. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Anthony, that is just such a stellar job. And what I really appreciate is the level of expertise you show in every piece and the careful and sensitive respect for the materials and surfaces. There are a lot of guys who can make a pipe look pretty, but there aren't many who can repair structural damage, and THAT'S what a restoration is. It's not just applying rouge to the corpse.
    If we had an applause emoticon I'd be posting it. Well. we do. but it's kinda lame. Stellar, just stellar.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 1 year ago #
  34. piffyr

    piffyr

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    Was the stem loose in the mortise? Do you think the cracks were perhaps caused by drying over the years?

    No to both.

    Being a military mount, the stem has a continuous taper. So, it would just continue to seat further and further in until it either bottomed out or the silver cap split. The latter being far more likely than the former.

    The shank was doomed to failure from the day the pipe was born. The wood is whisper thin at the very end shank and doesn't have a lot of strength on its own. That may not have been a problem if there had been firm surface-to-surface contact between the shank and the inside of the cap for support, but that wasn't the case here. There was a small gap between the two at the end that allowed the wood to expand beyond its tolerance. If you've ever used a wedge to split a log, same concept. Filling in that gap prevents that sort of movement in the future.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  35. danielplainview

    dave g

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    Back for a second look.

    Jesse is right. Your eye for detail is second to none.

    I’m still trying to figure how you get the inside of the stems jet black when they are so badly oxidized like this one.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  36. georged

    georged

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    I’m still trying to figure how you get the inside of the stems jet black when they are so badly oxidized like this one.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  37. danielplainview

    dave g

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    ^ witchcraft

    Posted 1 year ago #
  38. piffyr

    piffyr

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    ^^ patience

    Posted 1 year ago #
  39. georged

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    Posted 1 year ago #
  40. danielplainview

    dave g

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    Dang it. I knew I was doing it wrong.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  41. ssjones

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    The magic is not getting off the oxidation, it's keeping the stem close to the original dimensions and profile.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  42. piffyr

    piffyr

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    The magic is not getting off the oxidation, it's keeping the stem close to the original dimensions and profile.

    That's doubly critical on a military mount unless you don't mind shoving half the stem into the pipe.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  43. snagstangl

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    Back for a second look.

    Jesse is right. Your eye for detail is second to none.

    I’m still trying to figure how you get the inside of the stems jet black when they are so badly oxidized like this one.

    Rouge + churchwarden pipe cleaners + table top vise

    Posted 1 year ago #
  44. cynicismandsugar

    Jeffrey Deal

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    How did I end up here again?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  45. fitzy

    fitzy

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    Holy shit man. What a restoration. I find it hard to believe it's the same pipe. I thought maybe the stem was new.

    "These are ghosts that are more at home in a girdle-filled drawer than one of my pipes." Quote by Neil Archer Roan on lakeland ghosts
    Posted 1 year ago #
  46. markthelad

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    That is a fantastic looking pipe and you awesome job on the resto! You have resurrected it and healed it's soul.
    Great pics too by the way, thanks for sharing!

    "I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself."
    Johnny Carson
    Posted 1 year ago #

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