Dent Steaming a 1932 PATENT DUNHILL T197 Billiard with a VERNON STEM


Blog by Henry Ramirez

Saw this mousey looking pipe with a clicker stem on EBay.  Nobody seemed to want it so I took it home to practice my dent steaming.  The stem attaches with a loud click and some research told me it was named after Vernon Dunhill, who was responsible for the fitment’s design.  It was designed  to allow the stem to be separated from the bowl even when the pipe was hot from recent smoking.  It had the earlier square tip tube rather than the later angled tip. The stem had a funky downward cant before the button and it strongly resembled my Kaywoodie Allbriars.  Boy they nailed that briar stain to the oxidized Cumberland stem color! The bowl rim was dented/chipped and the surface scratched. The stem and the button were in fine shape so the usual soak in Oxyclean to remove the smegma followed by a trip to the oven to allow the stem to straighten itself.The metal tube is removable from the keeper which is part of the stem.  I have seen examples of the opposite where the keeper is integral to the shank.  These pipes seem to have been mostly billiard Cumberlands but some exceptions exist.  Both the tube and the keeper were polished with fine brass wool.  I did reface the tube with a carborundum disk.The shank stampings were crisp but there seemed to be personalized script on the bottom long polished off.The dent on the bowl’s rim was the major distracting feature.  I didn’t want to top the bowl and the briar dust/CA mixtures never seemed seamless to me.  So I tried to fatten up the cellulose fibers with hot steam using my hand held steamer.  This worked somewhat and had the advantage of pin pointing the area to be steamed. Not satisfied, I decided to fall back on the hot iron on a wet kitchen towel technique.  This did a better job, I think because it affected a larger area.  The problem then became one of restaining this larger area to match the rest of the pipe.

Restaining the pipe became somewhat of a chase your tail love’s labor, trying light brown, medium brown and the finally dark brown in various concentrations followed by isopropyl alcohol on a gauze sponge scrubbings.

So, I think I’m going to someday re-stain the whole pipe dark brown to try to better match the Cumberland stem while learning to love the residual dent on the rim.  The only home run here was the straightening of the stem to its original straight shape.  Thanks for looking, regards, Henry.

9 thoughts on “Dent Steaming a 1932 PATENT DUNHILL T197 Billiard with a VERNON STEM

  1. Henry Ramirez

    Steve, as happenstance would have it, I was wiping down a stem with Obsidian Oil the other night when some oil got on the briar. Instead of beading up, it soaked in giving the briar a juicy well fed appearance! Quite beautiful! Of course I stressed about compromising the briar’s “breathability” to diffuse the chamber’s heat. Nothing worse than a dang hot pipe! Personally as you know, that’s not a problem for me but I was thinking of future care takers. If you’ve noticed no adverse effect, then olive oil is the way to go because Obsidian Oil needs to have GOLD in its name due to price/ml. regards, Henry

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Henry I have found no residual problem with a dab of olive oil. It enlivens the briar and when smoked it does not seem to add heat. Just be conservative with it.

      Reply
  2. Troy W

    Always leave a old pipe as original as you can , that’s my thoughts anyway.Ups is correct the stem will just dull the finish after some buff and wax the color will come back. Smoking will darken it some as well.
    A great pipe and I would not refinish it unless the original finish is beyond saving.
    I think you did a superb job, less is more on a nice original pipe like that.Enjoy it.

    Reply
    1. Henry Ramirez

      Thanks Troy, for re-afferming my take on this old pipe. The original finish is in great shape and I didn’t even want to get medieval with a brass brush on the rim. I’m getting to like the dimpled effect… BTW I tried flipping the tube front-back but it only fits one way although the diameters differ only slightly. This was because the bowl end was slightly chewed up by a bowl scraper and if I removed the entire damaged end it wouldn’t reach into the bowl properly. regards, Henry

      Reply
      1. Troy W

        I have a old WDC with a tube insert and the end was muffed up some because of scrapping the bowl. Now I just let the pipe cool down and take out the stem before cleaning out the bowl to cause no further damage to it.

        Reply
        1. Henry Ramirez

          Good technique. I think this pipe wouldn’t smoke well without the tube and the eventual clean up would be a bear! regards, Henry

          Reply
  3. upshallfan

    Wow, Vernon-Fitment Dunhills are quite rare and valuable. I’d advise against restaining that one. You’ll never match the factory color and if you have hopes of ever selling it, it will be changed forever. I find after steaming, that a light buff with White Diamond and several coasts of carnuba wax usually restores the color. I also like the electric iron and a wet cloth for steaming dents, it generates a lot of steam in a wide area, which I think is more effective then pin-point steam (via knife tip, etc.) That is a fabulous pipe!

    Reply
    1. Henry Ramirez

      My Lazy Bone has no problem agreeing with you regarding re-staining the pipe. To tell you the truth, I think the stem/bowl color will match again beautifully once the Cumberland re-oxidizes. Of course, by that time I won’t be around to see it! Thanks for the tips on steaming. My next steaming project will feature my Vick’s Vapo-Rub sinus steamer prominently. regards, Henry

      Reply
      1. rebornpipes Post author

        Henry wipe the briar down with a little dab of olive oil and it should blend in better. Enliven the wood a bit! I have found that does wonders.

        Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s