Daily Archives: February 4, 2018

Restoring a 1983 Dunhill Shell 41009 Oval Shank Pot

Blog by Steve Laug

The next collection of pipes that I am working on comes from the estate of an elderly gentleman here in Vancouver. I met with his daughter Farida last summer and we looked at his pipes and talked about them then. Over the Christmas holiday she brought them by for me to work on, restore and then sell for her. There are 10 pipes in all – 7 Dunhills (one of them, a Shell Bulldog, has a burned out bowl), 2 Charatans, and a Savinelli Autograph.  He loved his pipes and she said that he was rarely seen without a pipe in his mouth. He traveled a lot and she remembers him having one of these pipes with him in the far north of Canada. His pipes are worn and dirty and for some they have a lot of damage and wear that reduce their value. To me each one tells a story. I only wish they could speak and talk about the travels they have had with Farida’s dad. Each of them has extensive rim damage and some have deeply burned gouges in the rim tops. The bowls were actually reamed not too long ago because they do not show the amount of cake I would have expected. The stems are all covered with deep tooth marks and chatter and are oxidized and dirty. The internals of the mortise, the airway in the shank and stem are filled with tars and oils. I took pictures of the Dunhill pipes in the collection. There are some nice looking pipes in the lot. The first pipe that I am working on is a Shell Oval Pot. I have circled in the above three photos in red to identify it for you. It is an interesting shape. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank with the shape number 41009 next to Dunhill Shell over Made in England 23. Dating this pipe is a fairly easy proposition. You take the two digits following the D in England and add them to 1960. In this case it is 1960+23= 1983. (Pipephil’s site has a helpful dating tool for Dunhill pipes that I use regularly http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/shell-briar1.html). It was in pretty rough shape. The bowl itself looked good and the finish was in decent condition. The top of the rim was rough and the inner edge was badly damaged. There were spots on the front of the rim top and at the rear that had deep burns into the briar. The briar was burned to a point where I could pick it out with my fingernail. The shank was so dirty that the stem would not properly seat in the mortise. The stem was not too bad – tooth marks on the underside near the button and lots of chatter on both sides. It was lightly oxidized and there was some calcification on the first inch of the stem. I took some photos of the pipe before I started to clean it up. I took close up photos of the rim top, bowl and the stem to show the condition the pipe was in before I started my clean up. The first photo shows the damage on the top of the rim and particularly the inner edge of the bowl. You can see the damage on the front edge and the back edge of the bowl. There was some major burn damage on the inner edge of the bowl. The rim top also had some tars and lava on the surface that would need to be addressed before I could work on the burned areas. The surface of the bowl was dirty and grimy with dust and oils ground into the grooves of the sandblast. The photos show the light cake in the bowl and the dust and grime on the finish. The stem photos show the oxidation and the tooth chatter and tooth marks on the stem surface. You can also see that the stem does not seat in the shank well.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer to cut back the cake to bare briar. I finished cleaning up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I used the knife to scrape away the soft briar from the burned areas of the rim top. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean up the grooves in the good portion of the rim top. I also cleaned out the burned areas. I wiped out the burned areas with cotton swabs and alcohol to clean out the remaining dust and leave it clean. I built up both areas with briar dust and super glue. I used a dental spatula to apply the briar dust to the glue. I built it up in layers until it was level and the inner walls were round.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the bowl. I worked on it to round the edges. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to smooth out the hard spots of dried glue and dust. I used the brass bristle wire brush to clean out the grooves in the rustication on the rim top. With the rim top basically finished (other than rusticating it with a Dremel and burr) I worked on cleaning out the internals in the shank. I used a dental spatula to scrape out the hard tars and oils that had lined the walls in the mortise. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the shank was clean.I used a dental burr in my Dremel to rusticate the top of the rim. I wanted to match the repaired areas to the rest of the rim top. I slowly and carefully put divots in the surface to match the rest of the surface of the rim. I restained the rim with a dark brown aniline stain and a cotton swab to get the stain deep in the recesses of the repaired rim top.I rubbed Before & After Restoration Balm into the deep grooves and crevices of the sandblast on the rim and the rest of the bowl. I rubbed it until it was deep in the briar. It was amazing to see the grime and dirt on the cotton pad that I wiped it down with. The balm brought life and a rich glow to the briar. I rubbed the bowl down with Conservator’s Wax and buffed the pipe with a shoe brush. I took it to the buffer and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a clean microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The photos below show the repaired and restored bowl. It has come a long way from the damaged pipe I started with when I began. I laid the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned the surface with alcohol and a cotton pad and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I scrubbed until the cleaners came out white. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tooth chatter and remove the tooth marks. Fortunately they were not too deep so they came out with a little elbow grease.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped them down after each pad with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine to take out some of the tiny scratches in the vulcanite. I finished by rubbing it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond being careful to not fill the grooves in the blast with the polishing compound. I used a regular touch on the stem to polish out any remaining scratches. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the first of six Dunhill pipes that I am restoring from Farida’s dad’s collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Farida thinks once she sees the finished pipe on the blog. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store as she wants to sell them for the estate. It should make a nice addition to a new pipeman’s rack that can carry on the trust from her father. The dimensions are; Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me it was a fun pipe to work on. Cheers.

Reworking and Restemming What Looked Like a Lost Cause

Blog by Ryan Thibodeau

I have been following Ryan’s work on FaceBook’s Tobacco Pipe Restorers Group and have been impressed with his work. When he posted the work on this old Canadian stummel with a lot of issues I wrote and asked if he would be willing to post it on rebornpipes. He said sure and sent me the following write up. I am happy to welcome Ryan to the pages of the blog. It is a pleasure to have you here. Without further ado I will let Ryan introduce himself to you all. — Steve

My name is Ryan Thibodeau, I live in the Hamilton Ontario region I stumbled upon this hobby by accident. When my Father learned of my new hobby, he gave me his 1959 Dunhill shell briar pipes. They hadn’t been smoked in 38 years and needed some TLC. I had them restored and they were the first two pipes in my rack.

From there I joined various Facebook Groups and happened upon Steve’s blog “Reborn Pipes”, I was inspired immediately. Since that time I’ve been collecting tired worn out pipes and testing my ability to return them to a condition that I would be proud of. It is a wonderful hobby, that doesn’t require a lot of space to do.

Every pipe has a story! Usually the smoker who owned it, and their story, is more interesting than the pipe itself.

I purchased this pipe in a lot of 12. There were only one or two pipes in the lot that I really wanted and the price was right, so I wasn’t heartbroken if the rest came to rest in the bottom of my box of pipes. One of them came in a case that was meant for a meerschaum, and it looked decent when in the picture, but further investigation revealed a lot of issues that would need to be repaired. I started by removing the silver band, which came off without any effort and used Heirloom Stripper to remove all the dirt, grime, old finish and lift some of the stain. This allowed me to get a real good look at the damage to this pipe. Next I used my Castleford reamer to remove all the cake out of the bowl. There was very little cake lining the bowl, however; once I removed the cake I found that walls of the tobacco chamber were severely charred. I suspect this pipe was smoked very hot and the briar was charred to charcoal. I wanted to see how much of the chamber was damaged ( I prefer to ream my bowls right back to fresh briar. This way I can see if there are any heat fissures or major issues that would make a restoration go sour after the first smoke)

I removed the charred wood. The reamers will shave away the charred wood, once you feel the resistance of the blades rubbing the fresh briar you know you’ve removed the charring.I used a combination of Briar dust and CA Glue to create a patch for the gouge on the side of the bowl. Using a flat file, I filed the patch down to the profile of the pipe. Afterwards I topped the bowl to level out the rim and the patch. The bowl was also over reamed by its previous owner so I added a bevel to the inside of the bowl at the rim to blend everything in.

There was a lot of filing and sanding through this process to get it just right. Unfortunately I get hyper focused during this process and forgot to take step-by-step pictures.

The grey patches you see inside the bowl is a product called JB Weld. I mixed up a batch and filled the problem areas in the chamber, afterwards I sanded it down to blend with the rest of the chamber. In my experience the product is completely inert once cured. It is handy for a reconstruction of this kind, but I’d recommend adding a bowl coating as an added barrier.This pipe came to me without a stem. Fortunately I had a stem that would be the perfect length, I just needed to shape the tenon to fit the pipe. For this I used the Pimo Tenon cutter from Vermont Freehand.

I also used the opportunity while I was at this end of the pipe to drill a hole ahead of the crack in the shank and filled used briar dust and CA Glue. As sometimes happens with restorations, I thought I stopped the crack from spreading, well I was wrong and it continued from the patch further up the shank about ¼ of an inch. So I drilled another hole and patched it again. This time I seemed to have everything under control.

The stem was quite simple to shape to the profile of the pipe and was a welcome change from the frustrations of the other repairs that didn’t go according to plan.

Once I had all the parts and repairs completed. I sanded the entire pipe and stem with 320 grit sandpaper up to 8000 grit (1500-8000 with micro mesh pads) Rustication

At this point I had to consider how I was going to finish this pipe. Originally this was a smooth finish Canadian Billiard, but those days were long behind this tired old pipe. I originally thought of using a really dark stain to hide all the imperfections, polish it and call it a day, then I thought I’d take a risk and create something new, and breath new life into this pipe. For all the effort I put into this pipe up to this point I figured I’d let my creativity flow.

I decided that I would rusticate this pipe and leave a smooth patch somewhere, where I hadn’t determined yet. Using a Dremel and a 107 Carving bit I started to rusticate the shank and worked my way to the heel, then up the stummel. Halfway up the stummel the pipe revealed its final design-leave the top of the bowl smooth! I wasn’t sure at first because it would mean I had to blend in that CA patch, but I now avoided trying to rusticate it.

I was very pleased with the result.

Staining & Finishing

I used Fiebings Dark Brown alcohol based dye over the entire pipe as a base, then wiped on Fiebings Oxblood till I achieved the colour I wanted. To seal the stain in the pipe I applied a thin layer of shellac which gave it a glossy look I didn’t like. I left it, and just stayed the course with this experiment to see how it turned out.

In the morning the Shellac had cured. I began the polishing process at this point. I don’t have a buffing wheel yet, so I use cotton wheel buffing bits that fit to my dremel.

I started with Tripoli and thoroughly went over the entire pipe and stem. The tripoli did a good job of taking down the shellac, and making it less pronounced. I followed that up with white diamond and then finally carnauba wax.  I used a fluffy felt bit to polish the whole pipe.

Bowl Coating

You will find a variety of recipes and opinions on bowl coatings. I use them when needed and I prefer the waterglass recipe that a pipe maker shared with me. It is a combination of Sodium Silicate, Activated Charcoal and White Pumice. Once cured it provides a refractory layer on the inside of the bowl, and it feels like 800 grit sandpaper which promotes new cake build up without putting a lot of heat stress on the worn out briar.

This pipe definitely tested the limits of my abilities  and I learned some new techniques that I had only seen others use. Here’s the finished pipe!