Tag Archives: Brigham Algonquin pipes

Restemming and Restoring a Brigham Algonquin Dublin 247


Blog by Steve Laug

This pipe is the last of the nine that was dropped by my house for repairs. I was in rough shape for multiple reasons. The finish was dirty and spotty and the rim top was covered with overflow from the bowl. There was a thick cake in the bowl and there were some dark spots on the bowl sides toward the bottom of both sides at the bend. There were also some nicks in the heel of the bowl as well. The stem was missing a large chunk at the button on the right side. The Brigham hard rock maple filters come with an aluminum end and it had broken off deep in the shank near the entrance of the airway to the bowl. The mortise was very tarry and dirty. It would take some work to clean out enough to free the broken aluminum end piece. I took a close up photo of the rim and bowl to show the condition of the pipe when I started the cleanup. Underneath the grime on the bowl there was some nice cross grain and some birdseye on the front and back sides of the bowl.The stem was not salvageable as it stood. The missing chunk was large and the airway into the bowl was collapsed. I would need to fit a new stem on the shank. Fortunately for me the owner did not want a Brigham stem so I could use a regular push stem for the replacement.I went through my stem can, found a stem that was the same diameter, and close to the same length. I filed the diameter of the tenon with a file until it was close to fitting and finished with 220 grit sandpaper. I trimmed the edge of the tenon with my tenon turning tool by hand.When I finished smoothing out the tenon I inserted it in the mortise on the pipe bowl. The fit was snug. It looked good. I would need to do a few adjustments on the shank and stem as the shank was not perfectly round. I sanded the stem and the shank with 220 grit sandpaper to get a smooth transition between the two. I scrubbed the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the finish and the grime. I took photos of the cleaned exterior. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and the Savinelli Fitsall Knife. I removed the cake completely. I sanded the interior walls with sandpaper wrapped around my finger to smooth out the walls.I lightly topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board to remove the rim damage and smooth out the nicks and scratches. I sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish the surface.I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain. I had found that once the finish was removed there were quite a few fills in the bowl sides and shank. I wanted to blend them into the surface of the briar and try to make them less visible. I flamed the stain and repeated the process until the coverage was even. I set the bowl aside for the day and went to work.When I returned from work that evening I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent. It was still too dark but I had plans to take care of that in a different way. In the photos below the fills are very visible against the dark brown stain. I cleaned up the face of the stem with the PIMO tenon turning tool at the tenon/stem angle so that the fit against the shank would be smooth. Sadly, my drill died so I had to turn the stem onto the tool by hand. It still worked well, just more slowly, and I was able to smooth out the surface.While the drill was out, I removed the tenon turning tool and put a drill bit in the chuck that was just slightly larger than the airway into the bowl. I wanted to be able to grab a hold of the broken aluminum filter tip with the drill bit and pull it out. Once again, I did it without the benefit of power. I just twisted the bowl onto the bit until the bit locked onto the aluminum end. I careful turned the bowl off the bit and the broken aluminum end came out stuck to the bit. Whew!I cleaned out the mortise and airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I finally was able to get all of the tars and oils out of the extended mortise.I heated the new stem with a heat gun and bent it to match the broken stem. I took a photo of the two of them together. I took photos of the pipe with the new stem in place. Still a lot of work to do to polish both the bowl and stem but it is looking good. I set the stem aside and worked on polishing the bowl. I started by wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. The photos below tell the story. I set the bowl aside and polished the stem. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and rubbed it down after each set of three pads. After the last 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry.I buffed the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to polish out the last of the scratches on the stem. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the surface of both. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and by hand with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I think the owner will be pleased with the finished stem and bowl. It looks like it was made to order. The contrasting stain on the bowl highlights the grain and hides the fills at the same time. Thanks for looking.

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Repaired a couple of Brighams for a friend


Blog by Steve Laug

The pipe at the top of the photo is a Brigham Algonquin shape 265. It is a newer Brigham and has the nylon tenon and system. The second pipe is a Brigham 384 volcano. The stem of that one is shown in the photo below. A friend and reader of the blog, Joe Iacobellis sent me a note to see if I could help him out on these two. He had restored the bowls on both pipes but the stems were giving him fits. The Algonquin was completely restored and he put the stem on the finished pipe to have a look. When he took the stem off the tenon and system apparatus remained in the bowl. It was stuck and would not come out. The two brass dots or pins had come loose from the tenon and though the stem fit well the tenon would not come out of the shank or stay in the stem. The stem on the Volcano was a mess. There seemed to have been a coating of varnish or something on the stem and when he worked on it the surface came off pitted and scarred. He wanted me to help on these two issues so I had him send them to me.Brig1 When I came home from a recent trip for work the pipes were waiting for me. The issues that Joe had mentioned in his email were right on. The tenon on the Algonquin was torn where the pins had come free from the nylon. The tenon was stuck in the shank and would not move. I put the bowl in the freezer over night and let it sit. When I took it out in the morning I used a pair of needle nose pliers to carefully twist the tenon out of the shank. I cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol to make sure that shank was not the issue. I put the tenon back in place on the stem and it was fairly tight. I twisted it back into the shank and it fit well. When I removed the stem the tenon was once again stuck in the shank. I used the needle nose to twist it out again. I used an ice pick to push the pins further out of the inside of the stem so that the surface was smooth. I used some clear super glue and coated the end of the tenon and pressed it into place in the stem.

After the glue set I used the ice pick and a small furniture hammer to tap the pins back into the tenon. I tapped lightly so as not to damage the tenon or the stem. I pushed the stem into the shank and twisted it out several times to make sure that the fit was good and the tenon would remain in the stem instead of the shank. It worked! I then cleaned up the tenon and the stem with micromesh sanding pads to polish it. I buffed it on the buffer with Blue Diamond and then carnauba wax. I gave the rim of the bowl a light coat of cherry stain to bring it closer to a match on the bowl. I buffed the rim and gave it a coat of carnauba. The finished pipe is shown below.Brig2

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Brig8 The stem on the volcano took some work. The surface of the vulcanite was rough and somewhat ridged from the varnish or clear coat on it. I used some 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the surface of the stem and remove the oxidation around the shank/stem junction. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponges. I then wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I buffed it with Tripoli before dry sanding it with 3200-12,000 grit sanding pads to finish polishing the stem. Once completed I gave it a light buff with Blue Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax.Brig9

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Brig12 Joe, the pipes are finished. I will get them wrapped up and in the mail as soon as possible. I think they came out great and hope you will get a lot of use out of them. Enjoy! Thanks for sending them to me to work on, I enjoyed it.