NOT THIS CENTURY'S PIPES!
These pipes are made using vintage machinery, techniques and craftsmanship.
Many of the pipe shapes being produced on this equipment have not been remade in over half a century.
You may no longer have your grandfathers pipes, but you can own the closest thing to it!
Two main machines that are involved for producing a working pipe stummel in a factory setting are a frasing (or frazing) machine, and a boring machine (either horizontal or vertical). While non-repetitive (and smaller) production can be accomplished today on a lathe, these two pieces allowed factories to produce many more pipes during the pipe making boom.
Patented in 1892 by Alexander A. Barthelmes the Frasing machine (Fraser) was later adapted to make pipes using a metal blank as a guide. This would allow the user to make several almost identical pieces once setup and allow for the parts to be carved on all sides at once. Very few of these original machines remain, and most were scrapped as pipe factories closed down or machines were upgraded over the years.
The machinery used for Milwaukee Vintage Pipes (MVP) started at the Arlington Briar Pipes Corporation from Brooklyn New York founded in 1919. Based on labels and markings, it appears the equipment was custom manufactured in 1926 for their pipe making needs. This included the frasing machine, and a large vertical boring machine.
Arlington eventually closed down in the early 70's, but by that time, the equipment had been purchased and put into service at Albert-John Briars, Ltd. in Milwaukee. There it continued to produce shop pipes for The Uhle's Tobacco Company in Milwaukee. After Albert-John Briars closed down in 1987 most of the equipment was sold off to EA Carey. The few machines that were not purchased ended up in the basement of Uhles and from there the equipment sat relatively untouched under the streets of downtown Milwaukee.
Stem and Briar acquired the equipment in 2018 and began its much needed restoration, repair and cleaning. Several pieces needed to be disassembled, inspected, measured, reassembled and cataloged. This included the 80+ frasing blanks, and 20+ boring heads. Many of these belong to some pipe shapes from manufacturers that have not been produced in some time, and we are excited to bring back!
Unfortunately neither Arlington, Albert-John or Uhle's saved an owners manuals, and it's doubtful one ever existed. Research on setup and operation has also been a challenge since this equipment it almost 100 years old, and hasn't been been operated in the last 35+ years. It seems my background as a Mechanical Engineer and machine builder have been put to good use!
ABOUT THE PIPES
What can I say? I'm very excited to make and produce these pipes with this equipment. It's not every day you get to fire up and old piece of functional equipment and still produce a modern day product. Keeping in mind that this is still a very manual operation with a lot of hand setup and finishing steps required to produce a quality briar pipe. I think it's well worth the effort for a pipe that will last well into the next century if treated right.
I appreciate everyone's interest thus far with this project. When pipes become available, they will be listed in the "NEW Pipes For Sale" Section of this site. Currently I am still working to get my shop cleaned up and everything in working order as well as staying on top of the regular repairs for Stem and Briar.
Vintage Vertical Milling Machine
Unsorted Vulcanite Stems in Various Shapes
Pre-Cut Briar Blocks