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. His pipes are worn and dirty and for some folks 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.
When I wrote the blog on the Classic Series Dunhill and thinking about its travels, Farida sent me an email with a short write up on her Dad. She remembered that I had asked her for it so that I could have a sense of the stories of her Dad’s pipes. Here is what she wrote: My dad, John Barber, loved his pipes. He was a huge fan of Dunhill and his favourite smoke was St. Bruno. No one ever complained of the smell of St. Bruno, we all loved it. I see the bowls and they’re large because he had big hands. When he was finished with his couple of puffs, he would grasp the bowl in the palm of his hand, holding the warmth as the embers faded. The rough bowled pipes were for daytime and especially if he was fixing something. The smooth bowled pipes were for an evening with a glass of brandy and a good movie. In his 20s, he was an adventurer travelling the world on ships as their radio operator. He spent a year in the Antarctic, a year in the Arctic and stopped in most ports in all the other continents. He immigrated to Canada in the mid-fifties, working on the BC Ferries earning money to pay for his education. He graduated from UBC as an engineer and spent the rest of his working life as a consultant, mostly to the mining companies. Whatever he was doing though, his pipe was always close by.
She sent along this photo of him with his sled dogs in the Antarctic sometime in 1953-1954. It is a fascinating photo showing him with a pipe in his mouth. He is happily rough housing with his dogs. As a true pipeman the cold does not seem to bother him at all.Thank you Farida for sending the photo and the background story on your Dad for me to use on the blog. I find that it really explains a lot about their condition and gives me a sense of who Dad was. If your Dad was rarely without a pipe I can certainly tell which pipes were his favourites. As I looked over the pipes I noted that each of them had extensive rim damage and some had deeply burned gouges in the rim tops. The bowls seemed to have been reamed not too long ago because they did not show the amount of cake I would have expected. The stems were all covered with deep tooth marks and chatter and were oxidized and dirty. The internals of the mortise, the airway in the shank and stem were filled with tars and oils. These were nice looking pipes when her Dad bought them and they would be nice looking one more when I finished.
I finished two of the pipes and have written a blog on each of them. The first one was the Dunhill Shell with the oval shank pot (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/04/restoring-a-1983-dunhill-shell-41009-oval-shank-pot/) and the second was the Dunhill Classic Series Shell Billiard (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/08/faridas-dads-pipes-2-restoring-a-1990-lbs-classic-series-dunhill-shell-billiard/). The third pipe I restored from the estate was a Savinelli Autograph (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/15/faridas-dads-pipes-3-restoring-a-savinelli-autograph-4/).
I went back to the Dunhills today so I chose to work on a Dunhill Red Bark 43061 pot. It was so dirty it was hard to tell what it looked like under the thick grime. The blast itself was almost filled in with thick, oily grime. I wiped the grime off the underside of the shank to be able to read the stamping. It was worn but readable. On the bottom of the bowl is the 43061 shape number. Next to that it is stamped Dunhill Red Bark over Made in England 17. 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+17= 1977. (Pipephil’s site has a helpful dating tool for Dunhill pipes that I use regularly http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/redbark1.html). The bowl was thickly caked and the cake had flowed over onto the light sandblast finish on the rim top forming a hard lava that made the top almost smooth. The inner and outer edges of the rim were damaged. On the front of the bowl the rim had been scraped and damaged and then burned. On the back edge there was the same kind of damage that was on the other Dunhill pipes in this estate. This one however was not quite as deep so it would need to be dealt with a bit differently when I got to that point. The stem was oxidized and calcified at the button end. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides in front of the button. The Dunhill white spot was intact on the top of the stem. I took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before I started the cleanup work. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. The stem has tooth chatter and some deep bite marks on the top edge of the button and a deep tooth mark on the underside of the stem just ahead of the button. There is a lot of calcification and wear on the rest of the stem as well.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and I had to use three of the four cutting heads to clean out the cake. The bowl thickly caked so I started with the smallest of the three and worked my way up to the third which was about the same size as the bowl diameter. I took back the cake to bare briar. I took a photo of the cleaned bowl. I scrubbed the surface of the sandblast with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean out all of the dust. I worked on the top of the rim with a brass bristle wire brush and a brass bristle polishing brush to remove the lava on the rim. I scrubbed the stem with the tooth brush as well to remove the calcification and grime. I rinsed the pipe under warm running water to remove the dirt, grime and soap. I dried off the bowl with a soft rag. The cleaned and scrubbed pipe really made the rim top damage very clear. It looked to me that I would need to top the bowl. I cleaned up the reaming of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove the remaining cake that was on the walls around the airway and the lower part of the bowl.I topped the bowl to remove the damage to the top surface of the rim and clean up the damage to the edges. I did not have to remove a lot and repeatedly checked it to make sure that I had removed enough but not too much.I used a series of dental burrs on the Dremel to etch a pattern into the top of the rim to blend it into the sandblast around the bowl sides. It was not a deep sandblast so the pattern on the rim needed to be random looking and not deep. I wanted it to blend in the damaged area on the back side of the rim. The photo below shows the rusticated rim top and the three burrs that I used to create it.I restained the bowl and rim with a Mahogany stain pen. I wanted to match the colour of the Red Bark shown in the photo below. After I stained the pipe with the Mahogany and I used a red oil based stain. I rubbed it onto the finish and buffed it off with a soft cloth. I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish to clean, enliven and protect the new finish. It also evened out the stain coat and gave the stain a dimensional feel. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed it with a horsehair shoe brush. I buffed the bowl with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Once again I have gotten so used to Jeff cleaning the pipes before I got them I just I realized that I had not worked on the internals of the pipe. I looked down the shank and it was filthy as was to be expected. Arghhh. Went back to clean out the shank and airway in the stem and shank. I scraped the hardened tars on the walls of the mortise with a pen knife. I cleaned the mortise and the airway in the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was clean. I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth dents in the underside of the stem. It took a few swaths of the lighter and the dents lifted. There was only one small pin prick left next to the button that would need to be repaired. I repaired the remaining deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem with black super glue. Once it dried I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repaired tooth marks and chatter and removing the remnants of calcification and oxidation on the stem until the oxidation was removed.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish, using both the Fine and Extra Fine polishes to further protect and polish out the scratches. When I finished with those I gave it a final rub down with the 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. I buffed the stem with a more aggressive buff of Blue Diamond. 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 fourth of Farida’s Dad’s pipes that I am restoring from his 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 very soon. It should make a nice addition to your pipe rack if you have been looking for a reasonably priced Dunhill. When you add it to your collection you carry on the trust from her father. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this estate Autograph. More of his pipes will follow including some Charatans and more Dunhills.