A Surprise Find – A 1980 Dunhill Shell Group 5 Saddle Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

When my brother and I went to visit the “older than me” pipeman on a recent trip to Idaho to buy estate pipes from him he had this rack of pipes on his counter top. I picked through them and my attention was caught by the White Spot stem that shows up on the right side of the rack in the photo below circled in red. It was a large pipe and when I picked it up and examined the underside of the shank it was stamped 52031 followed by Dunhill Shell over Made in England with a superscript 20 next to the d of England. That told me I was dealing with a pipe from 1980. The blast on it was quite stunning and the finish was in decent shape. The bowl was caked with a thick aromatic cake and smelled exactly like the pipe the man was smoking while we were there – Lane 1Q. There was lava spilled over the back side of the rim top and inner edge but the edges of the bowl were still in round. The bowl had a bit of an odd shape to it – kind of asymmetrical. That may be because of the sandblast. It has a good thick bowl and the shank is quite large. The saddle stem was oxidized and had some calcification on the back-end near the button from a rubber softee bit. There were some tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem. The slot in the button was half clogged with debris. The fit of the stem against the shank was snug but the underside where it had been flattened to match the bowl was slightly off. The finish was good so I would not touch that area but it was interesting to note. I did know that under the grime and dirt there was a beautiful large Dunhill residing that with just a little effort would come to light.Dunhill1I took some photos of the pipe once I got home to Canada and was going to work on it. You can see the beautiful grain in the blast and the state of the stem and finish in the photos.Dunhill2 Dunhill3 Dunhill4 Dunhill5I took some close-up photos of the bottom of the shank to show the stamping and of the rim to show what the overflow looked like. Most of the blast on the rim was filled in with lava and the cake was uneven in the bowl. Dunhill6 Dunhill7I used a needle file to clean up and sharpen the edge of the button and to remove the tooth marks on the stem.Dunhill8 Dunhill9I had field reamed the pipe in Idaho using a PipNet Reamer to remove the majority of the cake. When I worked on it in Vancouver I scraped out the bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife and took the remaining cake back to bare briar.Dunhill10To clean up the oxidation and calcification on the stem I used some Meguiar’s Scratch x2.0 and scrubbed the stem with cotton pads. It took the majority of the oxidation off and removed the calcification around the button.Dunhill11 Dunhill12I scrubbed the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean out the grooves in the blast finish. I also used a brass bristle brush to scrub the rim surface and remove the lava. I had to use a dental pick to clean out the deeper grooves after the bristle brush.Dunhill13I rinsed and dried off the bowl with a cotton towel. The dried and dull pipe is shown in the photos below. It is clean on the outside and the rim is “lava-less”.Dunhill14 Dunhill15 Dunhill16 Dunhill17I used a dark brown stain pen to touch up the edges of the rim and blend it in with the rest of the bowl. I scrubbed the airway and mortise in the bowl and the airway and slot with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I picked out the slot with a dental pick and ran pipe cleaners through the grooves to clean out the debris.Dunhill18 Dunhill19I wetsanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads as is usual and then dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. When I finished sanding I gave it a final coat of the oil and let it soak into the rubber.Dunhill20 Dunhill21 Dunhill22I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand applied some Conservator’s Wax to the bowl and then hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I finished buffing with a clean buffing pad and a microfibre cloth to raise the final shine on the bowl and stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. If you are interested in this one it will be for sale on the blog soon. Contact me and it can be yours. Thanks for looking.Dunhill23 Dunhill24 Dunhill25 Dunhill26 Dunhill27 Dunhill28 Dunhill29


2 thoughts on “A Surprise Find – A 1980 Dunhill Shell Group 5 Saddle Billiard

  1. Mike Zarczynski

    Great work, I restored a 1966 4s of the same shape and it’s been in my rotation ever since. I love getting “estate” pipes for the simple fact I can get them cheap, but I can still get expensive brands.


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