Daily Archives: June 21, 2015

Bringing a Dunhill Bruyere Bent Rhodesian 08 Back From the Brink


Blog by Steve Laug

This Dunhill Bruyere was part of the gift lot for sale for Nepal. It was in very rough shape and one that would never be fit enough to grace a collection. The Dunhill stamping is only visible under bright light with a lens. The stamping on the left side of the shank is Dunhill over Bruyere. On the right side it is stamped with 4 in a circle and an A. The rest of the stamping is very faint and reads Made in London England (At least that is what it looks like). The shape number 08 is gone except for the 0. The finish was gone. The double ring around the bowl was virtually ruined and the bowl itself was in very rough shape. The rim was beat up and out of round. There were burn marks on the rim, the left side and bottom of the bowl and on the left side of the shank. To me it looks like the pipe was laid in an ashtray and the cigarette burned the bowl. It was in very rough shape. The stem was badly oxidized and upon examination there was a small split in the button on the underside and the stem was thin and the edges of the button were rounded down.Dunhill1

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Dunhill4 I took some close up photos of the bowl to give a better picture of what I had to work with on this one. You can see from the photos the issues that I pointed out above. The ring was badly damaged and rough. The bowl was out of round and the rim was damaged. The finish was spotty and grimy.Dunhill5

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Dunhill9 I have one newer Bruyere in my rack so I kind of knew the colour this pipe should have been and it was not even close any more. I did a bit of searching on the web to see if I could find a finish chart and also one that would confirm the shape number that I was “speculating” on. I have included the next two charts for the information that I gleaned from them. The Bruyere was more dark/reddish coloured than this one was and the faint number was indeed 08 which was called a Bent Rhodesian.dunhill_pipe_finishes

dunhill_shape_size_chart The next two photos show the stem in some closeup photos. I wanted to show the oxidation and the split in the button on the bottom side of the stem. The fit in the shank was also worn. The tenon was sloppy fitting and could be wobbled side to side and up and down.Dunhill10

Dunhill11 I put off working on this one for a long time, choosing rather to work on pipes that I had some sense of what the finished product would look like. I had no idea if I could restore this one to any semblance of its original state let alone bringing back to “BEST QUALITY” which the Dunhill catalogue above said that Bruyere pipes stamped with the large “A” were supposed to be. This one was a challenge and I really drug my feet and postponed the test as long as possible. After looking at the photos above I hope that I have communicated the state of the pipe I was going to deal with. I have made no mention at all of the state of the inside of the shank and the stem. It was a mess as well – a thick black crud covered the inside of the airway in the stem and the shank and the mortise was almost clogged with the almost petrified tars of years of neglect.

So, yesterday I decided was the day to tackle this pipe. I had mowed the yard and done my weekend chores and needed some down time to relax. I suppose many of you would not call this relaxing but I still am under the illusion that it is restful…. Shhh don’t change my illusion please. I began with cleaning out the rings around the bowl. They were rough but they were also clogged with all kinds of debris. I used a sharp, thin blade pen knife that I have and use for this kind of thing. It works wonders and within a short time I had cleaned out the grime and the original red stain was showing in the bottom of the grooves.Dunhill12

Dunhill13 I scrubbed the bowl with cotton pads and acetone to remove the grime and the damaged finish. I also wanted to see the extent of the burn marks on the bowl, rim and shank. I wanted to see if they went deeper than the surface. Knowing that would help me decided what to do to address them.Dunhill14

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Dunhill16 With the grime cleaned off the rim I could see what I had to work with. The bowl was in rough shape. It was out of round but the inner edges did not have any char or burn. The rim had lots of dents and dings from someone using it as a hammer.Dunhill17 I decided to top the bowl to flatten out the rim and clean up as much of the damage as possible. I would then have to work on sanding the inner edge of the rim to smooth it out. I used the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper.Dunhill18

Dunhill19 With the rim flattened out once more and the outer edge more evenly set on the bowl top it was time to address the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the edge. I was able to greatly improve the “roundness” of the inner edge. While it was not perfect it was far better than when I started.Dunhill20 I cleaned out the shank and the airways with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I scrubbed and scoured and scraped the airways clean of the “fossilized” tars until the pipe cleaners and cotton swabs came back white. Since I was probably going to smoke this one myself I decided to not use the retort at this point. If it smoked rough I could always set up the retort and let it do its magic.Dunhill21 I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper, repaired the small split in the button on the bottom side and then sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I rubbed it down with some Obsidian Oil and put the pipe back together. I took a few photos of the cleaned up look. If you are getting the idea that I was postponing working on the double ring and the heavy damage there you are correct in your assumption. I was not sure I would be able to work any redemption on that area of the bowl. Time would tell.Dunhill22

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Dunhill25 I could not postpone dealing with the ring damage any longer if I was going to finish the pipe. I had read with interest Mark Domingues write up on restoring the rings on the Peterson 80 that he posted here recently. I spent time looking at how he rebuilt the centre briar ring between the two lines. I was ready to start. I cut a piece of note card the width of the back of the bowl and decided to address that damage first. I pressed briar dust into the damaged area of the ring and tamped it in with dental pick. When it was full I put some drops of clear super glue onto the briar dust. I did the same all around the bowl until I had a real mess on my hands. I was careful not to put the glue or dust on the places where the rings were in good shape. I would use these as guides to recut the lines later.Dunhill26

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Dunhill28 I used a flat, thin blade knife edge needle file to recut the grooves in the bowl. It took a lot of work to slowly and carefully recut them but it worked as the photos below show.Dunhill29

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Dunhill32 After the initial cutting of the grooves with the needle file I continued to use it to smooth out the grooves and the edges on the top and bottom. They took a lot of work to smooth things out. I also folded 220 grit sandpaper and ran it through the grooves on the bowl. Once they were smooth and cleaner looking than before it was time to clean off the bowl and then restain it with the first coat of stain. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to remove the excess briar dust and any remaining glue. I sanded the burn marks on the bowl and rim with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to minimize them. I sanded them again with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads to smooth out the scratches. I then gave it a coat of oxblood aniline stain, flamed it and set it aside to dry.Dunhill33

Dunhill34 The burn marks still showed with this first coat of stain and it was a little too red to my liking. I buffed it with White Diamond and then brought it back to the table to do some more work. I took some photos of the pipe after the buffing. I find that a couple pics help me focus on what needs some more work. In this case I could see that a little dark brown stain would work to tone down the red and also blend the dark spots in a bit more.Dunhill35

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Dunhill38 I used a dark brown stain pen to give it a top coat of stain. In the photos it looks streaky but I don’t worry too much about that as a buff once it is dry will take care of that.Dunhill39 I buffed the bowl with White Diamond and a light touch. It is looking better. The rings on the left side are better but are still a little rough. The rest of the way around the bowl they are looking really good. The dark brown stain did a better job of blending in the dark spots and toning down the red. I liked the colour and it seemed to match the chart photos of the Bruyere that I had found.Dunhill40

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Dunhill44 At this point it was time for a break. I put the stem on the bowl and loaded a bowl of Boswell’s North Woods and went to church with my daughters. I smoked a bowl as I walked with them and loaded another bowl on the way home. I sat on the porch and fired up a third bowl filled with Malthouse Reserve 12. This pipe really sang with English tobaccos. Even if it was still a bit ugly it smoked well!

When I finally went back to the shop I worked on polishing the stem. I put the plastic spacer/washer between the shank and the stem and worked on it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and rubbed it down again with the oil. I dry sanded with 6000-12,000 grit pads and then gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set it aside to dry.Dunhill45

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Dunhill47 The stem was looking really good. There was a rich glow to the vulcanite. These older Dunhill pipe stems really shine like glass when they are polished. I set the stem aside and did a bit more work on the bowl. I used a very small oval needle file to work on the rings on the left side and front of the bowl. I wanted to clean up the edges and sharpen the overall look of the rings.Dunhill48

Dunhill49 I followed the oval file with a flat rectangular blade needle file and cleaned up the edges of the rings some more. When I had finished with the flat file the rings looked far better than they were when I started.Dunhill50

Dunhill51 I gave the bowl another coat of stain with the dark brown stain pen and then buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond Plastic polish. I gave them both multiple coats of carnauba wax. Then I buffed the pipe with a clean flannel buff and polished it. The finished pipe is shown below. I think this one will stay with me as the nomenclature is almost illegible and the dark marks all over the bowl still show. The pipe smokes well so it will be a work horse pipe for me. It was well worth the time to clean up and I learned much in the process of reworking the rings.Dunhill52

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Dunhill55 Thanks for looking.

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Midterm Exam #3: Restemming a Thermofilter Billiard


Blog by Anthony Cook

I’m turning in my third midterm exam today. This one is based on an old Thermofilter pipe. I’ve made plenty of mistakes while fumbling my way through the learning process of pipe restoration, but one of my biggest and earliest blunders was inflicted on this poor pipe.

Thermofilter seems to be one of those nearly forgotten brands that nevertheless still pops up on eBay on a fairly frequent basis. The best information that I can dig up on it comes from a comment that “emo” posted on the Dr. Grabow Collector’s Forum:

Thermofilter was made in Italy by Fratelli Rossi in Varese. Started about 1964 and continued till about 73/74. It was imported and sold by Mastercraft…. to, best I recall, Whitehall Products Co. in Wheeling WV… Division of CULBRO.

We had several “left over” and closed them out for $3.98 over a year or two… not as Thermofilter, but simply as a filter pipe, even though they were stamped Thermofilter. Pretty cheap stuff…

The pipe in my possession is a small billiard with carved rustication. The center letters of the stamping are very worn and faint, but there’s enough there to make out “THERMOFILTER” over “IMPORTED BRIAR” on the left side of the shank. The stem did not have any markings and the bit end had been hacked off. Below are some photos of the pipe that I took shortly after its arrival.Anthony1

Anthony2 You may have noticed that I used past tense when mentioning the stem above. That’s because I dissolved the original, plastic stem from the inside out. Yes, you read that right. When I was running alcohol dampened pipe cleaners through the stem to clean it out, the first couple came out covered with the thickest, blackest, and stickiest goo that I had ever encountered and I surmised that I was working on some serious tar build-up. I was surprised to find that the amount goo wasn’t diminishing as I worked, but actually appeared to be increasing. Eventually, I noticed that the bore of the airway seemed larger than I had originally thought it was. That’s when I realized the horrible truth. The alcohol on the cleaners was causing the cheap, plastic material of the stem to break down and it was disintegrating from the inside out. You can see for yourself in the comparison photos below.Anthony3 You’d think that I would have noticed it earlier, but I honestly wasn’t paying attention to the diameter of the airway. I mean, who thinks that their stem is just going to dissolve, right?

In any case, I didn’t have any extra stems to replace the original with. So, I tossed the poor, mutilated stem into the trash and dropped the stummel back into the box. It’s been wasting away in there for the past several months. For my third midterm exam, I decided to pull it out to see if I could do right by this old pipe, try some new things, and correct my past mistakes.

I started by giving the stummel an alcohol bath and wiping it down with acetone. This removed the lacquer coat and much of the old stain. It also revealed some really nice grain between the areas of carved rustication. Then, I topped the bowl with 220-grit and 320-grit papers. I used the same grits to rough out a chamfer around the rim to remove the gouges along the edge.Anthony4 Even though the pipe had been hand cleaned before being boxed up, I wanted to do a retort since I didn’t have one at the time. So, I placed the original, aluminum tenon into the mortise and attached the retort tube directly to that. I flushed the boiling alcohol through the shank 8-10 times before setting the pipe aside to cool, and then I dumped the amber-colored alcohol and repeated the process. After the second flush, the alcohol remained nearly clear and I was satisfied that the retort had done all that it could do. I gave the shank a final scrub using a few pipe cleaners, cotton swabs, and a shank brush and considered the pipe to be clean as it was going to get.Anthony5 The stummel had a few fills that needed to be dealt with. It also had a small, surface crack at the end of the shank that did not penetrate into the mortise. I had wondered about using black CA glue for fills for a while. When I saw Al’s work on the Chelsea pipe I knew that I had to give it a try. After picking the fill material out, I applied a bit of glue into the pits and crack with a round toothpick, and then packed in a little pre-stained briar dust that I had left over the Rogers pipe that I posted earlier. I repeated this until I had a good patch built up above the surface. When the glue was dry, I sanded it down with 220 and 320-grit paper. I also used a round, tapered needle file and 240/320-grit sanding needles to smooth and shape a patch inside the carved rustication.Anthony6 Once the fills and crack were repaired, it was time to do something about the stem. I had picked up a grab-bag batch of pre-made stems a short while earlier. I sifted through them until I found a decent match. I decided to trim the tenon rather refitting the old, aluminum one. So, I cut off the stepped end of the tenon with a Dremel, and then trimmed the tenon with the tenon turning tool chucked into the drill press. The tool was new to me and the first image in the picture below shows the result of my first cut. My speed was off and I didn’t take it up far enough to face it properly. No worries though, because it was still too large and the subsequent trims went much better.Anthony7 After each turn of the tenon, I tested the fit by inserting it partially into the shank. When I thought I was getting very close, I attempted to insert the stem a bit farther and heard a sharp “snap”. It was the unmistakable sound of the shank cracking. It seems that the surface crack that I had thought was insignificant had suddenly become significant.

To repair the crack, I smeared petroleum jelly over the tenon and inserted it into the mortise to spread the crack open. Then, I applied CA glue (clear, not black this time) into the crack and removed the stem to allow the crack to close. I squeezed the shank tightly together with my fingers for a couple of minutes until the glue had set.Anthony8 I wasn’t going to do anything more with the stem until I added some support to the shank. I considered trimming down the original, aluminum tenon to use an internal splint, but decided against it. Since the new crack had run longer than the length of the tenon. So, I decided to band the shank.

I had some trouble finding a band that would fit properly. A 13mm would slide most of the way up the shank easily, but a 12.5mm band wouldn’t even start over the end. So, using the 13mm as a guide, I marked off an area that was the width of the band and sanded it down until the 12.5mm band would just barely slide onto the shank. Then I held the band attached to the stummel over a heat gun to expand it. In less than a minute it had expanded enough that I could push the band the remaining distance up the shank by pressing the end into a soft cloth on a hard surface.Anthony9 With the band in place, I could continue working on the tenon. I continued to slightly reduce the diameter of the tenon with 220-grit, 320-grit, and 400-grit paper until the stem was held tightly in place but easily removed.

The stem was already a pretty close match to the width of the stummel but it needed some refinement and the artifacts from the mold needed to be removed. I kept the stem attached to the stummel and wrapped a strip of painters tape around the band to keep from dragging fine metal shavings into the vulcanite (which dulls it). Then, I began shaping the stem and removing the extra material with sandpaper and sanding sticks. I began roughing it with 220-grit and 320-grit (results in first picture below) and refined it with 400-grit and 600-grit (results in second picture below).Anthony10 I used a set of needle files and sanding needles to open the slot and funnel it. This was my first time trying my hand at this and I’m going to need some more practice because the results were rough. I also funneled the tenon to remove the whistle when the stem was drawn on. Finally, I lightly sanded the entire stem with 1200-grit paper before polishing with micro-mesh pads 1500-12000. The final stem, along with a whole lot of lint, can be seen in the bottom image below.Anthony11 Between the large areas of carved rustication (blech!) on the stummel there was some really nice grain. I can appreciate straight grain for its rarity, but I love a good bird’s eye. When it’s stained well, it has a depth that’s almost like looking at an x-ray of the briar. So, I wanted to do everything that I could to accent that grain and take your eyes away from the ugly, carved, tobacco leaf swirls.

Three main stains were used to achieve the final look of the pipe; black to accent the grain, mahogany to give the overall tone, and ox blood at the end to add a bit of vibrancy. The first two colors were mixed at a 3:1 ratio of isopropyl alcohol to stain. The final color was mixed as a thin wash that I just eyeballed. The stummel was sanded between each staining; starting with 400-grit after black, 600-grit after mahogany, and 1200-grit after the ox blood wash, and then a micro-mesh polish 1500-12000. I also did a lot of grain massaging between each stain using a variety of tools including liner brushes and markers and inks and dyes of a few different colors. You can see how the staining progressed from start to finish in the pictures below.Anthony12 When the staining was complete, I reattached the stem and buffed the entire pipe with White Diamond, gave it several layers of carnauba wax, and added a bowl coating to the well worn chamber. Here’s the pipe that I’m turning in for my third exam.Anthony13

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Anthony16 Thanks for looking!