Restoring a Dunhill Root Briar EK Square Shank Panel Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is a Dunhill Panel Billiard. It is a smooth briar pipe that is very dirty. It has four panels around the bowl and the corners are rounded. The shank is square as well and ends with a square tapered stem. The briar is worn and tired with oils in the briar. The rim top had a build of tars and lave that flowed over it from a thick cake in the bowl. The shank is stamped on the left side EK followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. On the right side it is stamped Made in England with an underlined superscript 0 followed by a 4 circled followed by an R. The stem has the standard white spot on the top side. It was oxidized and had some calcification build up on the first inch of the stem that appeared to have come from a rubber pipe Softee bit. The stamping is easily interpreted. The left side EK is the shape stamp for a panel billiard. The ROOT BRIAR stamping is the line of Dunhill pipes. The right side stamp superscript O tells me that the pipe is dated to 1960. The circled 4 is the size of the pipe (group four) and the R is the stamping for a Root Briar. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff took photos of the top, sides and the bottom of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. The topside showed a thick lava build up flowing out of a thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know if there was damage on the outer or inner edges of the rim. The sides of the bowl show dents and wear but also some stunning birdseye and cross grain. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the pipe shank. It is faint but readable. It is as I wrote about above.Jeff took a photo of the stem to show the fit against the shank and the white spot. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter and marks as well as the calcification on the surface of the stem.I wanted to certify the date for myself so I had a look at the PipePhil site and looked the dating and stamping information (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1a.html). Using the charts there I was able to confirm that pipe was made in 1960.

I also looked on the Pipedia site and read as much information as I could find regarding the Root Briar line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). Here is what it said: The line was… Introduced in 1931 and highly prized because the grain is more pronounced in this finish. The Root Briar finish required a perfectly clean bowl with excellent graining. Therefore, it is the most expensive of the Dunhill pipes. Corsican briar was most often used for the Root finish, since it was generally more finely grained. This is a rare finish, due to the scarcity of briar suitable to achieve it. These pipes are normally only available at Company stores, or Principle Pipe Dealers…

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils, lava and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The rim was thoroughly cleaned and without the grime the finish had some rim darkening that hid the grain. The vulcanite stem would need to be worked on but I really like the profile it cast. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it.  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. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the damage and darkening around the inner edge. The vulcanite stem had tooth chatter and some light tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem both on the surface of the button and just ahead it. There was one deeper tooth mark on the topside near the button.I started my refurbing work by addressing the darkening on the rim top and inner edge. I first sanded the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I then lightly sanded the rim top with a worn piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I find that using a bit more tired piece of sandpaper works wonders on the dark edge without scratching the rim surface like a new piece. I followed that by wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh. I sanded the rest of the pipe with the micromesh at the same time. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped down the bowl after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain on the rim top began to shine through and the finish was in good condition under the darkened grain. I rubbed down the smooth briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar on the rim, sides and the bottom of the bowl with my fingertips. I wanted to make sure that the balm got deep into the briar to do its work. The balm works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rim looks much better than when I started but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. I sanded out the tooth chatter and tooth marks on the stem surfaces. I sanded the rest of the stem with the sandpaper to remove the oxidation on the stem surface.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I the polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax then 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. I left the some of the dents in place as I did not want to sand and ruin the patina. I think they are marks of the journey the pipe has taken. This turned out to be a beautiful pipe in terms of shape and finish. This is a nice looking Dunhill Panel Billiard pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this beautiful Dunhill Root Briar Panel. Thanks for looking.

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2 thoughts on “Restoring a Dunhill Root Briar EK Square Shank Panel Billiard

  1. David Goostree

    I have to wonder if this is the pipe I just received from my friend Donald. It’s odd that I’d receive an identical pipe.

    Reply

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