Blog by Steve Laug
With this Dunhill Bruyere I am turning again to work on Bob Kerr’s estate. This is the second of the smooth pipes in his Dunhill Collection. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection along with the Dunhills are a good bevy of Petersons, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.
I sorted the pipes into groups of the various brands and had a box of 25 different Dunhill pipes in different shapes, styles and sizes. I decided to work on the Dunhills first. It was a great chance to see the shape variety up close and personal. The photo below shows the box of Dunhill pipes.With the completion of the restoration on this one there are only 9 more Dunhills of the original 25 left to work on – all smooth finished pipes in a variety of shapes. I went through the box of the remaining smooth Dunhills shown above and chose a beautiful little straight Bulldog. It is stamped 48 over F/T followed by Dunhill over Bruyere on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped Made in England followed by 0 and a subscript1 Circle 4A – Group four size Bruyere made in 1960 and sold in 1961. The rich Bruyere finish is very dirty and there is a thick coat of lava on the out of round rim top. The inner edge of the rim is damaged on the front side of the pipe. The smooth Bruyere finish is dirty but like the other pipes in Bob’s collection there is something quite beautiful about the birdseye and cross grain on the pipe. The bowl had a thick cake and as mentioned above, thick lava overflows from the bowl onto the rim top. After cleaning I will know more. The diamond shank flows into a Fish Tail (FT) saddle stem that is oxidized and has tooth marks and chatter near the button. There is some calcification on the first inch of the stem ahead of the button and there is some light damage to the top of the button. I took pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show what I was dealing with. This Bruyere Bulldog had some damage on the inner edge of the bowl toward the front as can be seen in the photo. The cake in the bowl was quite thick and the lava on the rim top was also thick. The stem was dirty, oxidized, calcified and had a lot of tooth chatter on the top and underside for about an inch ahead of the button.I took a photo of the stamping on both sides of the shank. The stamping was very sharp and readable and confirms the information above. There is a little sloppiness to the second number stamp following the D in England. Under the lens it looks clearly like a 0 followed by a 1 that is dropped down below. In the photo there is some sloppiness to the stamp. The one has a slant and some nicks before and after so it looks almost like a 7 but I think it is a 1.Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them. Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.
I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!
I have included a photo of one of Bob’s wood carvings to give you an idea of what he daughter wrote about above. You can see his artistry in the carving that is patterned after British Columbia’s Coastal First Nations people. To me this is a sea otter but perhaps a reader may enlighten us.
Having already worked on other pipes from Bob’s estate I think I understood how he used and viewed his pipes. I had learned to tell which pipes were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. He really loved his billiards. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. I think this Bulldog also was one that went into the shop and I can almost imagine him reaming it out with a carving knife. In many ways it was as if he was standing over my shoulder while I cleaned up his pipes.
With that in mind I turned to work on this pipe. I reamed the bowl to remove the cake on the walls and the debris of tobacco shards that still remained. I used a PipNet pipe reamer to start the process. I followed that with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining cake in the conical bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. It smooths out the walls and also gives a good start to the process of bringing the inner edges back to round. I cleaned up the rim top and removed the thick lava coat in the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and a scrubbing pad to continue work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. The rim was quite damaged with the out of round section on the front of the inner edge and the burn mark that was there as well. It was going to take some careful work giving the edge a bit of a bevel to bring it back to round. The damage to the rim was very bothersome to me and in my opinion made an otherwise beautifully finished little Bulldog an eyesore. This is where I am sure some may differ with my decision but I decided to address the damage. I topped the rim on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to minimize the damage to the rim edge on the front. I topped it on a medium and a fine sanding sponge to remove the scratches and smooth out the rim top. Once I had flattened the rim top and removed some of the damage, I worked over the front inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed that by sanding the edge with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad. Through the process I was able to remove much of the damage. The rim top definitely looks better.Now comes the hardest part of the process in my opinion. It will either make the pipe look refreshed and beautiful or it will make it look very tacky and poorly done. I mixed three different stain pens and a black Sharpie pen to match to colour of the Bruyere stain. I used a Cherry, Maple and Mahogany stain pen – blending them together rather than letting each one dry. The colour is very close. I set the bowl aside to let the stain dry and put the stem in a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer to soak. That done I turned off the lights and called it a night.In the morning I took the stem out of the bath and rinsed it with warm water to remove the solution. I blew through the stem to clean out the insides and rinsed them with water as well. I rubbed the stem dry with a microfiber cloth to remove the remnants of oxidation. I took the following photos to show the condition of the stem at this point.I then picked up the bowl to examine the stain and get a feel for what it looked like in the morning light. It would need some polishing and touch up but the colour was looking very good to my eye. The inner edge of the rim also looked a lot better than it did when I began. Now to polish and blend the colours a bit!I decided to let the polishing wait and turned my attention to the internals of the pipe. I cleaned out the shank and airway to the bowl and in the stem with 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I cleaned both until the cleaners came out white. It was a dirty pipe.I polished the rim top with a microfiber cloth to work the stains together to blend it and touched up the light areas with a stain pen. I repeat the polishing with the cloth. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 10 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I am happy with the blend of the stain on the rim top and the overall look of the bowl at this point. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I also sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. The two papers combined do a great job removing the tooth chatter and remaining oxidation left behind after the stem soak. I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I buffed the stem with a microfiber cloth. I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 cross grain and birdseye grain that show up in the polished bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This 1960 Dunhill Bruyere 48 F/T Straight Bulldog presented some challenges in the restoration process but it was a fun pipe to work on. It really has that classic Dunhill Bulldog look in a Bruyere finish that catches the eye. The combination of red and black stains really makes the pipe look attractive. It is a comfortable pipe to hold in the hand and I think that as it heats with smoking that over time the finish will darken and look even better. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. If you would like to carry on Bob’s legacy let me know by email or message on Facebook. I still have 9 more Dunhill pipes with smooth finishes – Root Briar, Bruyere etc. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.