Refreshing an Elder Statesman – a KB&B Blueline Bakelite Cased Bulldog

I recently wrote about the work done to restore a vintage Frank Bulldog. Today’s patient is of a slightly older vintage but where the Frank needed structural work to bring it back to life, this Kaufman Brothers & Bondy pipe arrived in pretty good estate condition.

The pipe was in need of a good general cleanup but, somewhat miraculously, I saw no obvious damage when I first brought the pipe to the bench and took this initial series of images.

Inside the case are two labels. This first features the Kaufmann Brothers & Bondy (KB&B) Cloverleaf logo over “Bakelite” over” Blueline”. The second reads “Sterling Silver”

As you can see, the pipe carried the small handling marks of decades, and the silver shank band was tarnished. The Bakelite stem showed some tooth dents and, more importantly, wobbled in the shank mortise. The chamber showed a very light amount of carbon cake, while carbon deposits on the rim gave the pipe a slightly disreputable appearance.

The pipe is stamped with markings that match the case labels. The left upper facet of the diamond shank is marked “Blueline” over the KB&B logo over “Bakelite”, while the silver shank band also carried the Cloverleaf logo over the word “Sterling”.

After a bit of research, I was able to determine that the pipe was made sometime between about 1908 (Bakelite was invented in 1907) and about 1915 when Kaufmann Brothers & Bondy introduced their soon to be famous Kaywoodie brand. Again I was impressed with the pipe’s condition, given its nearly 115-year history.

The most glaring issue with the pipe was a loose stem. After unscrewing the Bakelite stem from the shank, I discovered that the bone screw tenon had been wrapped with plumber’s tape in an effort to beef up the threads.

I removed the tape from the tenon and was pleasantly surprised to see that the bone screw was in pretty good shape – dirty and a bit worn but otherwise whole.

Before I got too far ahead of myself, I took a few minutes to clean the stem’s airway. A pipe cleaner dipped in 99% isopropyl alcohol came out rather clean.

Likewise, the shank and airway through the stummel was free of major tarry deposits. This pipe had likely been cleaned before it was sold to its current steward. No argument from me!

I removed the carbon deposits from the chamber walls with a bit of sandpaper wrapped around a dowel, then used some micromesh sanding pads to clean and polish the rim of the bowl. I didn’t go all out in an effort to remove every blemish – a pipe this old deserves to show its battle scars.

To finish off the stummel, I scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a toothbrush, paying particular attention to the dirt and wax jammed into the bowl’s twin trim rings. A wipe of mineral oil after the cleaning added some moisture to the old briar and brought the finish back to life.

A preliminary wet sanding of the stem with 800-grit sandpaper highlighted the deeper tooth dents. A few drops clear CA glue in the depressions filled the dents. When the glue had cured, I sanded the patches smooth.

Then it was time to adjust the stem fit. Instead of teflon plumber’s tape, I used several coats of clear nail polish on the bone screw tenon to beef up the threads for a more secure fit to the shank.

I also discovered that the stem was slightly out of alignment with the shank. To correct this, I warmed the tenon carefully over a lighter flame to soften the glue holding the bone screw into the stem face. When it was pliable, I used a set of pliers with the jaws padded out with tape to gently turn the tenon into the proper position. Left to cool, the glue re-set to hold the stem in the new alignment.

All that was left to do now was to take the complete pipe to the buffer for final polishing with Red Tripoli and White Diamond compounds followed by a few light coats of Carnauba wax to add shine and a layer of protection to the refreshed pipe. I was impressed with how nicely the old Bakelite took a polish.

The finished pipe is now ready and able to provide its new steward with another lifetime or two of smoking companionship. With proper care and maintenance, this old KB&B Blueline Bakelite Bulldog could well be in active service for another 115 years.

Thanks for joining me for this interesting estate pipe restoration. While working on these Elder Statesmen comes with a unique set of challenges, seeing them put back into regular service is quite rewarding.

Until next time, Happy Piping! Here’s the finished pipe.


3 thoughts on “Refreshing an Elder Statesman – a KB&B Blueline Bakelite Cased Bulldog”

Comments are closed.