Blog by Henry Ramirez
Henry and I have been emailing back and forth on all things pipe repair and I have to say I enjoy each missive he sends me. He is a creative guy who is using his dentistry expertise to work on pipes. The kind of repairs he does and the equipment he has both built and gathered is unique and certainly adds some new ideas to the hopper for refurbishers like me. I don’t want to bore you with all kinds of introduction on Henry. I will let his restoration of this old Dunhill speak for itself. Welcome and thank you for your contribution Henry. – Steve Laug, rebornpipes
I’d seen this old pipe bought and sold several times on Ebay, each time gussied up a little more but still tap dancing around the issue of the split shank repair band. Being the sucker that I am for gnarly old patent Shell Dunhill’s, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to see what was under the band and possibly date this old codger.
Using 10x’s loupes with a parallel headlight source, I sectioned the band to find, to my lucky surprise, NO CEMENT! Just popped off, pretty as you please with no clean-up necessary. I used a fine carborundum wheel to initially trough the metal and then finished with a sharp new #2 carbide round but in an electric lab hand piece by Kavo. The Kavo or less expensive Medidenta hand pieces are ergonomic and very smooth running when compared with dremels. I would not try such a procedure for fear of scaring the briar without a hand piece I fully trusted.The newly exposed underside of the shank was faintly stamped with an incomplete patent number starting with 116(989/17) which would place this pipe from 1925-1934. No closure here since the date stamp was completely sanded off when the band was fitted.I was also pleased with the stem’s sizing to the shank. Still there was enough of a suggestion of the shell finish to complement the rest of the pipe.The 8mm stem orifice leads me to think this was a filtered pipe.The usual chamber cake removal (different pipe). I also use drill bits by hand to router out the mortise to bowl.When I want to conserve the original briar’s finish, I plug the bowl with a cork after stretching a latex or nitrile glove over the rest of the pipe. I then snip the tip of one of the fingers and poke the shank through the finger and out the hole. I tie off the glove and scrub the mortise and shank submerged in a Tupperware container filled with 91% isopropyl alcohol or vodka. Black muck floats out with every agitation of the shank brush.Drilling the micro-pin channel across the fissure. Once threaded into place, the pin shears off and the driver/carrier is removed. Of course I want the pin in the center of the thickest part of the shank through which the crack runs.The X-ray below shows not only the pin but also some of the composite plug. The composite plug was done at the end of the crack to prevent propagation.Pin hole back filled with black CA. Also spread some for aesthetic purposes on the composite plug. The stem was then buffed with four of pumice, Tim West’s green & red abrasive bars, White Diamond, Bendix plastic polish, Paragon wax and then a clean wheel and micro fiber towel. The bowl rim was gently micro-etched (Danville sand blaster) and polished with a Robinson bristle wheel brush. Luckily, the pipe was dark in general and the wax darkened the rim so that it blended. I flamed the wax to melt it into the rustications and buffed using a shoe polish brush supported by the bench pin. I ozonated the pipe for a night to remove any ghosting.Hope I don’t bore you with my Magnificent Obsession of resurrecting old pipes with the tools at hand. BTW, the light spot on the shank is an artifact of my flash. I’m going to deep six my crummy point and shoot and use my iPhone camera now that my MacBook can again see it as a drive. If you’re having the same problem, download Sierra operating sys from Apple for free.