Daily Archives: July 5, 2012

Refurb on a Brigham 2 Dot Lovat

Blog by Steve Laug

I just finished refurbishing this Brigham 2 Dot Lovat that I picked up in the estate pipe rack at a local tobacconist. This one was a challenge, but I loved working on it. It has the standard Brigham style rustication. It was in rough shape. The bowl was incredibly grimy and needed a lot of work. The grime had filled in most of the rustication to the point that it looked worn out and smooth. I soaked and scrubbed it for about an hour using a brass white wall tire brush to scrub out the grime caked on the outside of the bowl. The inside of the bowl was so badly caked that I reamed it back to the wood. Once I had it reamed and the scrubbing of the outside finished I dropped it in the alcohol bath overnight and went to work on the stem.


The stem was another story. It was given a soak in OxyClean to soften the oxidation. I find that OxyClean does not remove the oxidation at all, but it does soften it and make working on it much simpler. After the Oxy soak I went to work on the inside of the stem. Where normally there was to be a Brigham filter in the long metal tenon this time it was gone and the tars had built up to the point that the stem was totally closed off. I tried to blow through it but could not get any air through. I used an awl or ice pick to open up the stem and the tenon. Then I worked on it with bristle pipe cleaners and a shank brush. It took a lot of pipe cleaners and alcohol to get it clean. Then the outside was sanded with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper followed by the run of micromesh sanding pads. Once it was clean and shiny I set it aside and turned my attention to the bowl.

I took the pipe bowl out of the alcohol bath and went to work on it. I used the brass brush one last time to clean off the remaining grime and then dried off the pipe. There was no finish left on the pipe so I restained it with a cherry stain. I reinserted the stem in the shank and took it to my buffer and polished the entirety with Tripoli and White Diamond, finishing with a coat of wax.


Every restoration has a beginning…. – Chuck, aka Desertpipe on SF

Chuck posted this on Smokers Forums and I thought it merited posting here as well. I asked him for permission to post and use his photos. I copied the exchange from his side in writing about his cleaning process. I include it here as it is helpful to see another refurbisher at work.

It is one thing to restore pipes for yourself, and then later on start giving them to friends. It is quite another to restore as an adjunct to working as a Tobacconist, in a Brick and Mortar Shop. I am slipping into that position, as my pipes have been well received in our Estate Pipe (sorry Ben) display case. I find myself challenged, and we will see, together, the outcome. Here is a trio of pipes that were they to show up in a group from eBay, would go directly to my “Someday Box”. They are caked heavily and there is damage beginning to the structure of the bowls. The briar is tar soaked to the point that grain is no longer visible, and the bits cannot go further into the shanks, nor be withdrawn in one pipe.

Stay tuned over this weekend, as I see what can be made of these three.


Mike….I have practiced on a number of pipes that were badly caked, actually a few were my Dad’s handed down, and I even purchased a few off eBay in that condition. I use my “Someday Pipes” to increase my skill level. I have acquired seven specialized tools that I use to vanquish this demon cake. And I examine closely for any existing damage, pointing it out to the customer and explaining a worst case ending to the attempted restoration.

And I sure hope in these three cases they end up resembling a pipe….

After carefully removing the bits from the shanks, I went to work on the cake. As Mike pointed out, one has to be very careful, as a pipe caked to this extent is almost assuredly suffering from some damage to the briar.

Special note – New Mexico Environmental has informed me that they plan to insist that I get the certification required for coal strip mining, if I plan to continue to bring back pipes in this condition…..

Stage one of the “Cleanup”….Bits soaked overnight in my magic solution and then steel wooled while still wet. Total bristle clean-out of the airway and the tenon area. Two solution scrubs of the briar and clean-out of the mortise…..now on to sanding and briar repair.


I would have had these done Sunday evening, but with the temperature hovering around 100 degrees, we had a wide spread power outage on our side of the Mountain…..six hours later, we could check the update for fires, cool off and relax. The pipes had to wait….until now.

I did not restore the surface bite marks on the bits, as they were going back to the same owner. Leaving them as intact as they came to me, with no heavy sanding, allows him to retain much of the original thickness. Buffing them out and then resurfacing the finish has them looking good.


The customer had a funny response when he picked up his pipes today. He quietly picked them up, one at a time, and examined them for several minutes. He then looked up at me with a big smile on his face and said “Alright! What did you do with MY pipes?” Quiet for another minute, and then “They haven’t looked like this in 20 years.”

And then he paid his bill and added a tip to cover my lunch.

Refurb on a London Made Dainty Prince

This was a refurb I did last August while I was laid up with a couple of cracked ribs. I wanted to post it here because it gives a good idea of the process of refurbishing and taking grimy old pipes and bringing them back to life.

I am a bit laid up after a fall so I am sitting quietly in my shop instead of doing painting and trim on the house (original plan for the holidays). The great part of this is no guilt about not working on the house or yard. Because of that I am getting a bunch of old pipes I have in boxes cleaned up and finished.

The first one today (Aug. 1) is a nice little London Made Prince with a patented Flat Grip Stem. (I cannot remember who made these but I have had a few over the years). The stem is stamped Flat Grip and has a nice raised silver spot on the stem. The bowl is stamped London Made. It is a small pipe – 5 1/4 inches long but about a group one sized bowl.

From the pictures below you can see the state it was in after the reaming. I got into a groove and forgot to take pictures before I reamed it. But it was really dirty and caked – to the point that a pencil could not stand in the bowl. It always amazes me that in these small pipes, which hold very little tobacco any way, people let them get to the point where they hold even less tobacco. Just a few minutes of work and they would have had a clean bowl.

I reamed and cleaned the bowl and shank and put it in my alcohol bath for the morning. I have a pint jar filled with Isopropyl alcohol that serves as the bath for filthy bowls. In this case it sat in the bath for 3 hours before I got to work on it. It is a nice sized jar in that I can drop 4 or 5 bowls in it at the same time and work on the stems while they soak. Once it came out and dried I sanded the bowl all around and cleaned it once again to get any residual grime out. The airway was clogged so a paper clip took care of that and then a good scrub with a bristle pipe shank brush and repeated pipe cleaners. Once clean I stained it with a cherry stain that works with these old timers and brings out the colours of the briar. It was then buffed with Tripoli and White Diamond and waxed it with carnauba.

The stem was rough so I buffed and sanded and buffed and sanded and got the oxidation off and then sanded a bit more to get the teeth chatter off of the surface of the stem near the button. I always start with a 220 or 240 grit sandpaper in removing the oxidation and tooth chatter and then progress through 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper before finishing the progress with micromesh sanding pads – 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 4000 and 6000 grit. Once the sanding is finished I took the pipe to the buffer for a final buff with White Diamond before polishing the whole pipe with carnauba wax.

Before shots: (I reamed out the cake prior to this photo set)


Photos of the finished pipe: