Tag Archives: Dunhill Pipes

Reconstructing a Broken Stem on Dunhill Bruyere # 51671


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had just finished the first of the 30 pipes from my Mumbai Bonanza find, a Stefano “EXCLUSIVE”; here is the link to the write up; https://rebornpipes.com/2019/03/11/mumbai-bonanza-stefano-exclusive-restorationa-month-long-project/

How did I land up with this lot makes for an interesting read and one which I have written about in the above restoration. Here are pictures of the pipes that I received in this lot. This lot contains some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brand pipes and some mediocre pipe brands. Overall, with seven Dunhills, a Preben Holm #1, a couple of Made in England Pete System pipes, Charatan’s and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had hit a huge jack pot!!! Hence, I like to call this find as “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The pipe that I decided to work on is from this find and is marked in a red circle in the picture below. The stummel surface boasts of some beautiful bird’s eye grain on either side of the stummel while densely packed cross grain adorns the front and back of the stummel and also the shank top and bottom surface. It is stamped with “# 51671” towards the bowl and followed by “DUNHILL” over “BRUYERE” on the left side of the shank while the right side bears the COM stamp “MADE IN” over “ENGLAND” followed by underlined numeral “19”. Dunhill White Dot adorns the top of the vulcanite stem. The stampings on either side is deep, crisp and clear. The dating of this pipe is very straight forward and dates to 1979 (1960+19). However, deciphering the shape code, 51671, proved to be a challenge. The first digit 5 identifies this pipe as being Group size 5, second numeral, 1, identifies the style of mouthpiece as being tapered and this is where the ease ends and led to a lot of confusion with the next two digits. Though the shape appears as Zulu, it is not so since the shank is rounded. The profile of the pipe points towards it being a Horn shaped, but the shape code supports neither a Zulu nor a Horn!!! Well, another mystery which is likely to remain unresolved!!

With this information, I proceed ahead with the restoration of this handsome pipe, my first ever DUNHILL!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber is clean with a thin layer of cake which indicates that the pipe has been kept clean by its previous Steward. From what I can see, the chamber walls appear to be without any damage. The chamber is odorless. The inner rim edge show minor unevenness which should be easy to address. It is the outer rim edge that shows significant damage on the left side in 7 o’clock and 11 o’clock directions. This must have been caused due to hammering of the edge against a hard surface to remove dottle!! The rim top surface has a number of dents due to the same reason. The mortise is clean and so is the shank airway. The stummel surface is peppered with numerous dents and dings and scratches. Being a Dunhill, any issue of fills is never to be expected and hold true for this pipe too. These dents and ding are probably caused due to uncared for storage by the previous Steward and further contributed to by the trash collector who had sold the pipes to me. The stummel is covered in dirt and grime and is surprisingly slightly stick to the touch. The briar looks lifeless and dull which is nothing serious to address. The vulcanite stem shows significant damage to the button end, in fact, there is no button at all!! The stem end is missing, well, about half an inch of vulcanite. Heavy and slightly deep scratches can be seen extending upwards from the broken button side. The stem surface is very thin at the place where it has been chewed off by the previous owner. I intend to reconstruct/ rebuild this portion of the stem, including the slot, while maintaining the stem and general profile of the pipe. This will require major repairs. The quality of vulcanite is good. In this project, repairs to the damaged outer edge and stem rebuild will be a major challenge, the stem more so, as maintaining the tapered profile of the stem will need to be adhered to for overall appeal of this piece of briar. Having just finished the tedious restoration of the Stefano, I am aware of the challenges this restoration will be presenting enroute.

THE PROCESS
Since the stem has significant damage, and from my experience of stem repairs (Stefano nightmare!) this will be the most time consuming and laborious part of this restoration, I start this project by tackling the stem first. I was faced with two options in my approach to this stem repair; first was to recreate a new button around the broken part and maintain the existing stem profile with a straight slot and the second option was to cut away the damaged button and reconstruct an entirely new button with a straight horizontal slot, sacrificing the overall length of the pipe. I decided to take the former approach. This decision was partly dictated by the fact that I do not have a rotary cutting blade to cut the damaged button end and partly to my innate desire to maintain the originality of the pipe. It’s a Dunhill after all!!

Now that I was clear about the path to be followed, I sand the stem end with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to erase the scratches and provide a smooth surface for the intended fill. I cleaned out the internals of the stem with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Once I was satisfied with the internal cleaning, I wiped the stem surface, particularly the damaged button end, with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove any traces of dirt and grime. To begin the stem repairs, I smeared a folded pipe cleaner with petroleum jelly and inserted it in to the stem airway. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and generously applied it over and extending beyond the broken surface and set it aside for curing over night. To be honest, I have not researched and measured the exact length that I had to reconstruct, but eyeballed the length using the longer left side of the stem (where a very tiny raised portion of the button is still visible) as a guiding length. Before moving ahead, I would like to mention here that I had applied this mix in layers, over the week, to achieve sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding while shaping the button and achieving the correct stem profile. Once I was satisfied that the fill had cured nicely, I moved ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. And then this happened… As you can see in the following pictures, not everything was lost. There remained a portion of the fill which was intact. Not one to give up and having the experience of the Stefano behind me, I persisted with the reconstruction. I made a fresh mix of activated charcoal and CA superglue, this time around increasing the amount of superglue, and reapplied it over the broken button end after inserting a petroleum jelly smeared a folded pipe cleaner. I continued with the layering technique of building up the fill.The next set of pictures show the progress of the stem rebuild using the layering technique. Slowly but surely, I am getting there!Once I had achieved the desired thickness and having let the fill cure for a few days, I proceed with shaping the button using flat head needle files. I am quite pleased with the way things are progressing at this point in restoration. However, fingers remain crossed and mentally remained prepared for disaster to strike anytime. At this stage, I am pretty satisfied with the profile of the stem, the thickness of the button and, in general, the overall progress on the stem rebuild. Also glad that there have been no further setbacks!!!! With this I proceed to shape the horizontal slot for the button. It is a long drawn process and a tedious one at that!! The inside of the slot needed to be smoothed out while maintaining the thickness of the button edge on either side. I build up the insides of the slot by layering it with superglue, letting it cure, sanding and then applying a fresh layer. I must have repeated this process for good about a week plus!!!! The external surface of the slot was also developed the same way and this helped in maintaining the thickness of the button edge.While the stem repair was progressing at its own pace, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel repairs. Given the size of the chamber, I reamed the chamber with size 4 head of a PipNet reamer. The cake was thicker at the bottom and used the size 2 head to remove the cake. I used my fabricated knife and scraped out all the remaining cake. The amount of cake reamed out of the chamber really surprised me as I was expecting minimum cake. I further used one folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to sand out the last traces of remaining cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage. This was followed by cleaning the mortise by scraping away at the dried gunk with my fabricated spatula and followed it up with further cleaning using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This eliminated all traces of old smells from previous usage. Continuing with the cleaning regime, using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the surface of the stummel and the rim top. The original reddish dye was also washed away to some extent. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The damages to the outer rim edge, uneven inner rim edge and stummel dents and dings are now clearly visible in the above pictures after the cleaning.

Next, I decided to address the dents and dings on the stummel surface and the damage on the rim outer edge by steaming them out. I heated my fabricated knife over the flame of a candle, placed a wet Turkish hand towel over the damaged areas and steamed out the dents by placing the heated knife over the towel. Though some dents were still observed, these were greatly reduced when compared to before steaming. The steaming method had raised to the surface all the major dents and dings. However, the outer edge of the rim still remained unaffected. The steaming method having failed to address the issue of the damaged outer rim edge, I decided to use a more aggressive method of topping the rim top. Personally, I prefer to avoid topping as I do not appreciate loosing even one mm of briar estate, but in this instance, I was left with no recourse but to top the rim. I topped the rim on a 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently the progress being made. The damage to the outer rim was so extensive that the even after what felt like ages of topping, the damage was still apparent. Finally, I just did not feel like topping any further and hence decided on another course of action. I would rebuild the outer edge with briar dust and superglue. Having decided on this course of action, I lightly top it on 600 grit sand paper to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the 220. The only benefit derived from this topping was that the inner rim is now perfect and I collected some briar dust!

I tried mixing briar dust with superglue, but to no avail. The moment the two came in contact with each other, the mix hardened. So I resorted to the layering method again, first I layered superglue over the damaged surface followed by sprinkling of briar dust and one final layer of superglue. I set the stummel aside to cure. The only problem with this method is the high probability of presence of air pockets.The next evening, the repairs to the edge had completely cured and I move ahead by filing and rough shaping with a flat head needle file. I further fine tune the blending by sanding it down with 220, 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. Here is how the repaired area appears at this stage. I am very pleased with the way this repair progressed.Steaming out the dents and dings from the stummel surface had necessitated that the surface of the stummel be evened out by sanding. I sand the entire stummel using 220, 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. The little dents and dings that remained on the stummel and outer rim edge were also evened out under this sanding process. This was followed by polishing with micromesh pads. I wet sand the stummel with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and follow it up by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the surface with a moist cotton cloth after every wet pad to check the progress. The repaired rim edge now appears shiny and glossy. This has got me a bit worried as it stands out from the rest of the stummel surface. I fervently pray that this is masked after I have stained it. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. I had hoped that the balm would work its magic on the filled area and help in blending it a bit, but that did not happen. I had simultaneously been working on the stem reconstruction by building up the slot and button using the layering technique. Though tedious, I have reached a satisfactory stage from where I can fine tune the slot and button edges. What followed were hours of tedious, back breaking and nerve wracking process of sanding and shaping of the slot and the button. Though the slot is not a perfect horizontal straight opening, rather a slight oval, I have managed to match the profile and dimensions of the original stem and the pipe is definitely smokable. Here are pictures of the progress.For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite. The repairs have blended in very well and the stem now looks a shiny black and beautiful. The internals of the stem was cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners. The finished stem is shown below. I kept the stem aside to let the stem absorb the oil and turn my attention towards the stummel. I decided to stain the stummel in cherry red stain which was the original stain true to the Bruyere line of Dunhill pipes. I use the powder variety of stain and mix it with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I heated the stummel surface with a heat gun and applied the stain with a folded pipe cleaner. As I paint the stummel with stain over sections at a time, I burn the dye using a Bic lighter that combusts the alcohol in the aniline dye and sets the dye pigmentation in the wood.  After fully saturating the stummel and covering the whole surface, including the rim top, I set the stummel aside to rest for several hours. By next evening, the stain had set nicely. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel (because I do not have felt cloth buffing wheels!!) on the Dremel and set the speed at about 40% of full RPM and apply red compound to the stummel. This does help in revealing the grains gradually; however, my fears had come true. The repairs to the outer edge of the rim did not absorb the stain and is encircled in yellow. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel (actually it is not the brand machine, but a local machine which is similar).  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs in this case, do not do justice to the appearance of this beautiful pipe, my first Dunhill. I cannot thank enough my friends Mr. Dal Stanton, Mr. Sam Vior, Mr. Victor Naddeo and Mr. Steve for helping me to research and complete this mysteriously stamped Dunhill pipe. PS: The readers would have observed the fact that the rim repair could not blend completely in spite of my best of efforts and still I have highlighted the flaw while the general tendency is to hide it. True, there are reasons for me highlighting the flaws; firstly, if I cannot hide it from myself, than why attempt to pretend it’s not there and secondly, the highlighting will encourage you to have a closer look at the flaw and maybe you could have an explanation for it in the first place and share it with me. This will help me in avoiding these mistakes in my future restorations. Third and most important reason is that a newbie somewhere who is not so fortunate like me to have friends and mentor that I have will also benefit from my mistakes.

 

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New Life for Farida’s Dad’s Final Pipe – a Dunhill 5203 Shell Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I have had the last Dunhill from Farida’s Dad’s estate sitting on a cupboard behind my desk and every time I sit down I look at it and think that I need to finish it up. I sold the rest of the estate and purchased this one myself so that I could have some time to work on it. Yes you are right, read between the lines – I wanted to put off working on it. Well, this morning I sat down at the desk and posted a couple of blogs and then turned and there it was looking at me. I decided then and there to pick it up and do the work to finish this estate.

The pipe came from the estate of an elderly gentleman here in Vancouver. I met with his daughter Farida over a year ago and we looked at his pipes and talked about them then. Over the Christmas 2017 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 Charatan Makes, and a Savinelli Autograph. This is the last of the lot – a lone Dunhill Billiard with a saddle stem. 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. The first photo shows the underside of the shank and its virtual illegibility under the tars and filth on the finish.You can see from the above photo the challenge that the pipe I am working on today will be. The stamping identifies it as a Dunhill Shell Billiard with a saddle stem. It is stamped on the underside of the heel and shank on a smooth flat area. On the heel is the shape number, a 4 digit number – 5203. I looked on Pipephil to get the lowdown on the shape number (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/shapes.html). I quote that below:

Dunhill pipes are stamped with a four digit code.

Digit 1: (from 1 to 6) denotes the size of the pipe (the group).

Digit 2: denotes the style of the mouthpiece (0,1=tapered, 2=saddle)

Digit 3 and 4: denote the generic pipe shape (in yellow in the chart on top)

Example: 5102 — (5 = size | 1 = tapered stem | 02 = Bent)

When 5 digits occur, the meaning of the 4 first remain the same

The one I am working on, 5203, is thus a SIZE 5 (Group 5), saddle stem (2) billiard (03) shaped pipe. The rest of the stamping is DUNHILL SHELL over MADE IN ENGLAND with the underlined superscript 34 after the D in ENGLAND. The number 34 tells me the date the pipe was made 1994.

My work on each of these pipes has already caused a lot of discussion on the Facebook Tobacco Pipe Restorers Group. The ongoing debate of Restoration vs. Preservation has filled a lot of ongoing airtime on the group. I do not care to relive or recount that as I am only following the directives of the daughter of the original deceased pipeman. She wanted them restored to usable condition so others can carry on her father’s love of these pipes. She is quite happy with the finished results and others of his pipes are now all over the world being enjoyed by the next generation of pipemen.

When first looked at the pipe here is what I saw. The bowl was thickly caked and the cake had flowed over onto the sandblast finish on the rim top forming hard lava that made the top uneven. There was a serious burn mark on the front edge of the bowl causing the rim to have a dip in the surface. It was hard to know if there was damage to the inner edge of the rim and I would not know until I removed some of the grime. The outer edge looked far very good all around the bowl except for the front. The finish was invisible under the thick coat of oils and grime that covered the bowl and shank. In fact at this point I had no idea what the stamping looked like because it was covered. I have wondered as I cleaned the other pipes in this lot if the oily build up was just a part of the life lived in the Antarctic. The stem was oxidized and very dirty. There was a thick sticky, oily substance on the surface of the stem and a calcification that I could scrape with my fingernail. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides in front of the button as well as damage to the edges of the button. I took photos of the rest 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 two photos. The damage to the rim top and the front outer edge is very visible even under the grime and lava. The inner edge looks like it has some damage on the backside. I won’t really know the full story until I remove the thick lava overflow on the surface. The stem had tooth chatter and some deep bite marks on the top and the underside of the stem just ahead of the button. The button itself also showed wear and damage. It has been a while since I have worked on the pipes that belonged to Farida’s Dad. I thought it might be helpful to remind us all of the background story of these pipes. Here is the material that I quoted in previous blogs. I have included both the written material and the photo that Farida included of her Dad. 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 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. A true pipeman, he seems oblivious to the cold. Thank Farida for sending the photo and the story of your Dad. I find that it explains a lot about their condition and gives me a sense of your Dad. If your Dad was rarely without a pipe I can certainly tell which pipes were his favourites. In fact the condition of the billiard I am working on now makes me wonder if it is not the one in his mouth in the photo below.As I looked back over all of her Dad’s pipes that I have restored each of them had 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 once more when I finished.

Here are the links to the previous seven blogs that I wrote on the rest of the finished pipes. The first was a Dunhill Shell oval shank pot (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/04/restoring-a-1983-dunhill-shell-41009-oval-shank-pot/). The second was a 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 was a Savinelli Autograph (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/15/faridas-dads-pipes-3-restoring-a-savinelli-autograph-4/).The fourth pipe was a Dunhill Red Bark Pot that was in rough shape (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/03/10/faridas-dads-pipes-4-restoring-a-dunhill-red-bark-pot-43061/). The fifth pipe was a Dunhill Root Briar Bent Billiard (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/07/07/faridas-dads-pipes-5-restoring-a-dunhill-root-briar-56-bent-billiard/). The sixth pipe was a Charatan’s Make Distinction https://rebornpipes.com/2018/08/22/faridas-dads-pipes-6-restoring-a-charatan-make-distinction/. The seventh pipe was a Charatan’s Make Belvedere https://rebornpipes.com/2018/12/05/faridas-dads-pipes-7-restoring-a-charatans-make-belvedere-48dc-pot/.

Like most work the refurbisher does, this walks a fine line between restoration and preservation. The deciding feature for me regarding this pipe was the wishes of the family. They wanted the pipe to be cleaned and smoked by someone who could carry on the pipe man’s legacy of their Dad. None of them was interested in the pipes for themselves. They had no desire to keep them and memorialize their Dad and Grandad in that manner. I understand that to work on this pipe the way they wanted meant changing the current state of the pipe to bring it back closer to the way it was when their Dad bought it.

I decided to change things up a bit in the routine on this one. Holding it in my hand to ream and clean was a dirty prospect so I decided to scrub the thick grime off the exterior of the bowl and shank. The grit was deep in the sandblast finish rendering the pipe almost smooth. I scrubbed it with a tooth brush, a brass bristle wire brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I worked hard to get the grime out the grooves and crevices of the blast. I also worked on the rim top to remove the tars and oils that had formed a hard lava coat on the rim top. I worked on the burn damage as well on the front top and edge of the bowl. I rinsed the bowl under running water to remove the debris from the scrubbing. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer. I used two of the four cutting heads to clean out the cake. The bowl was thickly caked I started with the smaller of the two and worked my way up to the second which was about the same size as the bowl. I cleaned the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and scraped it back to bare briar. I finished by sanding the inside of the bowl with a dowel wrapped in sandpaper. I scraped the top of the rim with the edge of the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove the lava. I decided to start with the rebuilding of the rim top the bowl. I wiped the rim top down with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to clean off the damaged areas on the front edge and on the rear inner edge. On the damaged front edge I started by laying down a coat of clear super glue on the gouged out burned area. On top of that I layered some briar dust with a dental spatula. I repeated the process of layer until the damaged area was level with the rest of the rim top. I used the brass bristle wire brush to texture the surface of the rim top over the repaired area to match the rest of the rim. I did the same layering process on the inner edge at the back of the bowl. When I had finished the rebuild I textured that area with the wire brush as well. The photos tell the story of the process. I worked over the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth it out and bring the damaged edges into round. The rim top was beginning to look normal. It would take a bit more texturing but it was looking a lot better.With the externals clean it was time to clean out the mortise and shank and airway into the bowl and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I scraped the mortise with a dental spatula and a pen knife to loosen the tars before cleaning. I worked on the bowl and stem until the insides were clean.I used a needle file to sharpen the edges of the button on both sides of the stem. I sanded the “crud” off the stem and the tooth marks out of the topside of the stem. The underside would take a bit more work so I spent a lot more time cleaning out the large tooth mark on the stem near the button with sandpaper and alcohol and cotton swabs.It took some work to clean out the damaged area on the underside of the stem. Once I had it clear of debris I wiped it down with alcohol. I  filled in the deep tooth mark on the underside and the small tooth mark and rebuilt the button on the topside using clear super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure.I decided to stain the bowl with a dark brown stain. It would go over the black stain that was in the grooves of the sandblast. Once it had set I would wipe off the excess stain and buff the bowl and rim to get the finish I wanted. The photos tell the story. I applied the stain and flamed it with a lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage. Once the stain had cured I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent. I wanted to be able to see the contrast between the dark brown and the black in the crevices of the finish. 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. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the repairs on the stem surface on both sides with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the vulcanite.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 with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it into the vulcanite with a cotton pad. When I finished 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 did not want to get the buffing compound in the sandblast finish. I buffed the stem with a more aggressive buff of Blue Diamond. I hand rubbed 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 last 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. This Dunhill Shell 5203 Billiard will soon be on the rebornpipes store if you want to add it to your rack. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over the last of her Dad’s pipes. With the completion of this one I have finished this estate. Thanks for walking through the restoration and reclamation of this lot of pipes. It has been an interesting journey for me and a continuance of my education. Cheers

Restoring Pipe #15 from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Root Briar 51021 Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

With this Dunhill Root Briar my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s is taking a turn to the smooth finished pipes in the collection. This is the first 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 11 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 the 15th and first smooth finish pipe to work on – a smooth Root Briar Bent Billiard. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with the shape number 51021 followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in England 21 which tells me it is made in 1982. The 5 digit stamping gives a lot of pertinent information about the pipe. The first digit, 5 says that the size of the pipe is a Group 5. The second digit 1 identifies the pipe as having a tapered stem. The 02 identifies it as a bent pipe and the final 1 says it is a billiard. The bent round shank flows into a tapered 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. The smooth Root Briar finish is dirty but like the other pipes in Bob’s collection there is something quite beautiful about the cross grain on the pipe. The bowl had a thick cake and thick lava overflow on the rim top. The bowl appears to be a little out of round with slight damage on the front inner edge of the rim. After cleaning I will know more. 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 Root Briar Bent Billiard 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. You can see the cake and tobacco in the bowl. 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. Part of the stamping was very sharp and readable and other parts were fainter and needed bright light.Since this is the 15th pipe from Bob’s estate I am sure you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the 14 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 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 15 other pipes from Bob’s estate I think I understood how he used and viewed his pipes. I am just starting my work on the smooth finished pipes with this Root Briar. 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 would have been one of his resting pipes – not a shop pipe. 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 the 15th 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 helps bring 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 some worn 220 grit sandpaper and a 1500 grit micromesh pad to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. I worked over the damaged inner edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper to bring the bowl back to round and remove the damage. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. Each successive pad brought more shine to the rim top. I wiped the rim down with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. I used an Oak coloured stain pen to blend the polished rim top into the rest of the briar. The oak colour was a perfect match for the colour of the bowl.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 20 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 scraped out the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to break away the tarry buildup on the walls of the shank. (Sometimes I use a pen knife and sometimes a dental spatula depending on the diameter of the mortise.) I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. It was very dirty in the shank and stem but now it not only looks clean but smells clean.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned off the stem with a light sanding to remove the oxidation near the tooth marks. I filled in the deep tooth marks on the topside next to the button and the one on the underside as well with black super glue and set the stem aside so the glue could cure.When the repair had cured I used a needle file to redefine the sharp edge of the button and flatten out the patches. I sanded the repaired areas to blend them into the surface of 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 did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation and calcification. 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 also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end.  I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 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 Dunhill Root Briar 51021 Bent Billiard will soon heading off to India to join Paresh’s rotation. It really has that classic Dunhill Bent Billiard look that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 15th Dunhill Briar from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the estate. With this one I have begun my work on the smooth Dunhill Pipes. What will follow is 10 more smooth finished Dunhills – Root Briar, Bruyere etc. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.

Restoring the 14th and Final Shell from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Shell Briar 660 F/T Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

With this Dunhill Shell Briar my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s is truly making a dent. This is the last of the Shell and Tanshell 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 11 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 Dunhills shown above and chose the 14th and final sandblast pipe to work on – it is another Group 4 Shell Briar Billiard. It is stamped on the underside of the bowl heel and the shank with the following information. On the heel it is stamped with the shape number 660F/T and next to that Dunhill over Shell Briar. That is followed by Made in England 9 with an upside down 14 off to the right and above the England 9 stamping. Typically the second number was a stamp when it was sold which would make it a pipe made in 1970 and sold in 1975. I am not sure in this case if that is true the positioning of the second number is odd.  Next to the shank/stem union it is stamped Circle 4S – Group 4 size Shell. The round shank flows into a saddle fishtail 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. The Shell Briar finish is dirty but like the other pipes in Bob’s collection there is something quite beautiful about the pipe. There is grime and tars filling in much of the sandblast. The bowl had a thick cake and some lava overflowed on the rim top. There appears to be a little damage on the front inner edge of the rim but after cleaning I will know more. 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 Shell Briar Billiard was in decent shape all things considered. The cake in the bowl was quite thick and the lava on the rim top was also very present. You can see the cake and tobacco in the bowl. 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 the underside of the bowl and shank. It was very sharp and readable. The stamping on the heel was a bit lighter than the rest but still readable.I am sure if you have read the restoration work on the 13 previous pipes you have already read what I 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. 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 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 13 other pipes from Bob’s estate I think I understood how he used and viewed his pipes. I am coming to the end of the Shell and Tanshell pipes. This is the last of the sandblast 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. 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 the 14th of his pipes. 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 helps bring the inner edges back to round. Often when I get into the rhythm of the restoration I can easily move through the process without remembering to take photos along the way. This was one of those times. I was working on the pipe and just following my steps while listening to some favourite music and lost in the world of my own head. I cleaned up the rim top and removed the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and a brass bristle tire brush to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. I used it to also minimize the rim damage a bit. Sorry but imagination will have to do instead of photos.

I quickly moved on, scrubbing the sandblast finish with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. Using a tooth brush I worked over the sandblast finish on the bowl, shank and rim. I spent extra time working on the rim top to make sure I was able to remove all of the grime. I rinsed the pipe under running water to remove the grime. I dried it off with a soft towel. If you have followed me long you will recognize that this is the process my brother and I use in cleaning all of our pipes. The pictures below show the finish after scrubbing and rinsing. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast surface with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth and then polished it with a horsehair shoe brush. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a pen knife to break away the tarry buildup on the walls of the shank. I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. It was very dirty in the shank and stem but now it not only looks clean but smells clean.  I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush after each coat of wax to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good at this point. The sandblast grain just shines and is showing all of the different layers of colour that make up a Dunhill Shell Briar finish. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the majority of the marks and tooth 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 did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation and calcification. 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 also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end. I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 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, the nickel band and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 contrast of colours that show up in the sandblast of the Shell Briar bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This Shell Briar 660 F/T Saddle Stem Billiard will soon be posted on the rebornpipes store. It really has that classic Dunhill Shell Briar Billiard look that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 14th Dunhill Shell Briars and Tanshells from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the estate. With this one I have finished the last of the sandblasted Dunhill Pipes. What will follow are 11 smooth finished Dunhills – Root Briar, Bruyere etc. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.

Restoring the 13th Pipe from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Tanshell FE F/T Prince


Blog by Steve Laug

In my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s Estate I feel like I am finally making a dent. I am working my way through the Dunhills in his collection – the Shell and Tanshell pipes. 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.

I am making progress on the 25 Dunhills with only 12 more to go. I went through the box of Dunhills shown above and chose the 13th sandblast pipe to work on – it is another Group 4 but this time a Tanshell Prince. It is stamped on the underside of the bowl heel and the shank with the following information. The letters FE F/T which make this a Prince shape with a Fantail stem are followed by Dunhill over Tanshell. Next to that it is stamped Made in England 7 – which dates it as being made in 1968. That is followed by a Circle 4T – Group 4 size Tan Shell. The round shank flows into a tapered fishtail 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. The Tanshell finish is dirty but nonetheless there is something quite beautiful about the pipe. There is grime and tars filling in much of the craggy finish. The bowl had a thick cake and some lava overflowed on the rim top. There appears to be a little damage on the front inner edge of the rim but after cleaning I will know more. 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 Tanshell Prince was in decent shape all things considered. The cake in the bowl was quite thick and the lava on the rim top was also very present. You can see the cake and tobacco in the bowl. 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 the underside of the bowl and shank. It was very weak but still readable under bright light with a lens.I removed the stem and was surprised to find that a repairman had replaced an obviously broken tenon with a white nylon/Teflon tenon. It fit perfectly but was a surprise nonetheless.I am sure if you have read the restoration work on the previous pipes you have already read what I 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. 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 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 12 other pipes from Bob’s estate I had a pretty well knew how he used and viewed his pipes. I am coming to the end of the Shell and Tanshell pipes (1 more Shell Briar billiard to go). I had learned to tell which pipes were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. In many ways it was as if he was standing over my shoulder while I cleaned up his pipes. This particular pipe was tired but the cake and lava on the rim should have been more. With the stem off and seeing that it was a repair pipe I could understand why. This one would have been an earlier repair than the billiard I just finished.With that in mind I turned to work on the 13th of his pipes. 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 helps bring the inner edges back to round. With the bowl reamed it was time to work on the rim top and remove the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and a brass bristle tire brush to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. It also worked to minimize the rim damage a bit.With the bowl reamed and rim top cleaned I scrubbed the sandblast finish. This is pretty much my process in cleaning either sandblast or rusticated finishes. I scrubbed it with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the grooves and canyons of the blast. I worked over the tarry lava overflow on the rim with the tooth brush and a brass brush. I rinsed the pipe under running water to remove the grime. I dried it off with a soft towel. The pictures below show the finish after scrubbing and rinsing. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast surface with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth and then polished it with a horsehair shoe brush. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to break away the tarry buildup on the walls of the shank. I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. It was very dirty in the shank and stem but now it not only looks clean but smells clean.   I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush after each coat of wax to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good at this point. The sandblast grain just shines and is showing all of the different layers of colour that make up a Dunhill Tanshell finish. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the majority of the marks and tooth 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 did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation and calcification. I cleaned up the Teflon/Delrin white tenon as much as possible without changing the diameter.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 also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end.  I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 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, the nickel band and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 contrast of colours that show up in the sandblast of the Tanshell briar bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This Tanshell FE F/T Prince will soon be heading to India to be enjoyed by the next pipeman who has taken on the trust of Bob’s pipes. It really has that classic Dunhill Prince shape that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 13th Dunhill and the 2nd Tanshell from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the estate. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.

Restoring the 12th Pipe from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Shell Briar 197 F/T Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

In my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s Estate I seem to be making a dent. I am working my way through the Dunhills in his collection – the Shell and Tanshell pipes. 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.I am making progress on the 25 Dunhills with only 13 more to go. I went through the box of Dunhills shown above and chose the 12th sandblast pipe to work on – another Group 4 Shell Billiard with a long repair band. It is stamped on the underside of the bowl heel and the shank with the following information. The shape number 197 F/T is on the heel followed by Dunhill over Shell Briar. The Made in England stamp and any size or date stamp has been obscured by the long repair band on a cracked shank covers the rest of the stamping so I cannot date it. The nickel band is split but since it is glued in place it is not movable and will be left as is. The nickel band is a bit overwhelming in terms of it being the first thing that catches the eye. There is not much to be done with that. The round shank and band however flow into a tapered fishtail 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. The Shell Briar finish is dirty but nonetheless there is something quite beautiful about the repaired pipe. There is grime and tars filling in much of the craggy finish. The bowl had a light cake and some lava overflowed on the rim top. Bob had gone to a lot of work to repair this one and keep it in his rotation. I think there is still a lot of life left in this little billiard. With a little work this pipe would look good once again. I took pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top, stem and the banded shank to show what I was dealing with. Judging from the condition this little billiard was in and the amount of work that went into banding and repairing the shank, I think I can safely say that it was another one of Bob’s favourite pipes. The cake in the bowl not quite as thick and the lava on the rim top was less so it makes me wonder how long after he repaired it that he actually used this pipe. You can see the cake and tobacco in the bowl. 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. You can see the length of the nickel band on the shank but what you cannot see is what is visible with a light down the shank. The band holds together several cracks in the shank. They have been well repaired and the band has been glued in place and fitted nicely to the shank.I took a photo of the underside of the band to show the split in the nickel. It is smooth and has been glued to the shank so it is not easily removable and also not necessary to remove. I will need to fill in the crack and sand and polish it smooth.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. It was weak but still readable.

I am sure if you have read the restoration work on the previous pipes you have already read what I 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. 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 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 11 other pipes from Bob’s estate I had a pretty good feel for how he used and viewed his pipes. I am coming to the end of the Shell and Tanshell pipes (2 more to go). I learned to tell which pipes were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. 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 the 12th of his pipes. 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 helps bring the inner edges back to round. With the bowl reamed it was time to work on the rim top and remove the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and a brass bristle tire brush to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. It also worked to minimize the rim damage a bit.With the bowl reamed and rim top cleaned I scrubbed the sandblast finish. This is pretty much my process in cleaning either sandblast or rusticated finishes. I scrubbed it with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the grooves and canyons of the blast. I worked over the tarry lava overflow on the rim with the tooth brush and a brass brush. I rinsed the pipe under running water to remove the grime. I dried it off with a soft towel. The pictures below show the finish after scrubbing and rinsing. The outer edges of the rim were in good condition but the finish was worn off so I used a Mahogany stain pen to touch up the rim top and edges. I have found that particular stain pen matches the colours on the Shell Briar quite well. It is transparent enough to let the other under colours show through and blends in well with the existing stain.I decided to work on the crack in the nickel band first. I fill in the small open areas with clear super glue. It has the advantage of not only being clear but will also flow underneath the band bonding it to the briar. Once the glue cured I sanded the repaired area with micromesh sanding pads to smooth it out. I polished the band with the micromesh pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the band down with a cotton pad after each sanding. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast surface with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth and then polished it with a horsehair shoe brush. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to break away the tarry buildup on the walls of the shank. I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. It was very dirty in the shank and stem but now it not only looks clean but smells clean. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush after each coat of wax to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good at this point. The sandblast grain just shines and is showing all of the different layers of colour that make up a Dunhill Shell finish. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the majority of the marks and tooth 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 did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation and calcification. As I work on this stem, I am pretty sure that the tenon is Delrin. That makes sense – a broken shank and a snapped tenon. It is not too often that I get to sing the praises of another repair person. But I have to because this repair guy was amazing. He did a great job on rebuilding this old guy and giving it life.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 also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end.  I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 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, the nickel band and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 contrast of colours that show up in the sandblast of the Shell briar bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. The long nickel band actually does not look too bad and this well repaired Shell Briar 197 F/T Billiard has a long life ahead of it for the next pipeman who takes on the trust of Bob’s pipes. It really has that classic Dunhill look that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 12th Dunhill and the 11th Shell from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the estate. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.

Restoring the 11th Pipe from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Shell Briar 104 F/T Oval Shank Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

In my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s Estate I seem to be making a dent. I am working my way through the Dunhills in his collection – the Shell and Tanshell pipes. 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.I am making progress on the 25 Dunhills with only 14 more to go. I went through the box of Dunhills shown above and chose the 11th sandblast pipe to work on – another Group 4 Shell Billiard with an oval shank and tapered stem. It is stamped on the underside of the bowl heel and the shank with the following information. On the heel it reads 104F/T which is the shape number followed by Dunhill over Shell Briar. That is followed by Made in England 0 which would identify it as made in 1960. Next to the stem/shank junction (under the band) is a 4S which gives the size of this Shell pipe. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification. The oval shank of this billiard flows into a tapered 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. The Shell Briar finish is dirty but nonetheless is beautiful. There is grime and tars filling in much of the craggy finish. The bowl had a thick cake and lava overflowed on the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl shows some damage but the extent will not be clear until the bowl is reamed and the rim top cleaned. The shank has a nickel repair band that really cheapens the look. It is loose so I plan on examining the shank carefully to see if it is really necessary or was just added as bling. With a little work this pipe would look good once again. I took pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top and stem to show what I was dealing with. Judging from the condition this little billiard was in I think I can safely say that it was another one of Bob’s favourite pipes. The cake in the bowl is another thick one and the lava on the rim top is also very thick. You can see the cake and tobacco in the bowl. 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. The button surface was also marked with tooth chatter. I removed the loose band from the shank so I could read the stamping on the shank. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. It was clear and readable.I am sure if you have read the restoration work on the previous 8 pipes you have already read what I 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. 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 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 10 other pipes from Bob’s estate I had a pretty good feel for how he used and viewed his pipes. Even with the pipes so far I could tell which ones were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. 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 the 11th of his pipes. 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 helps bring the inner edges back to round. With the bowl reamed it was time to work on the rim top and remove the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and a brass bristle tire brush to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. It also worked to minimize the rim damage a bit.I decided to check out the shank and see if I could find a crack once the band was removed. I examined it with a lens under a bright light and sure enough there was a crack on the underside of the shank that went through the circle 4S. It was a fine hairline crack but the band served to keep it that way. I have circled the crack to show its location.I will need to reband the shank but I think I will use a much narrower band that maintains the integrity of the look and does not compromise the repair. I decided to start with that part of the restoration and see what I could do. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take the band down as much as I could and still hold onto it. Then I used 220 grit sandpaper and “topped” the band to a point where it worked to do the job it was created for but was far less intrusive. I was able to only cover the S and part of the 4 so it was a lot better than when I started. Here are some photos of the process. Photo 1 shows the original width of the band. Photo 2 shows the Dremel and sanding drum. I used the sanding drum held sideways (horizontal to the shank end) and reduced the width of the band as much as I could without damaging the end of the shank.Photo 3 shows the process of “topping” the band on the topping board with a new piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Using this method after the Dremel allowed me to remove the sharpness of the edge and also even out the edge. Photo 4 shows the width of the band from the side. I was able to reduce by just over half.I cleaned up the shank end with a little alcohol and a q-tip and then glued the band in place with white all-purpose glue. Once the glue dried and the band was solidly in place I took the photos below to give an idea of the new look of the band. I have included the first photo below to show the contrast of what the band originally looked like and what the band looks like now. I cleaned up the excess glue around the newly fit band and then worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast surface with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth and then polished it with a horsehair shoe brush. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I polished the nickel band and edges to dress it up and give it a cleaner appearance using worn micromesh sanding pads. The photos below tell the story. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a small pen knife to break away the tarry buildup on the walls of the shank. I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. It was very dirty in the shank and stem but now it not only looks clean but smells clean.  I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush after each coat of wax to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good at this point. The sandblast grain just shines and is showing all of the different layers of colour that make up a Dunhill Shell finish. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the majority of the marks and tooth 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 did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation and calcification. There were still a few small tooth marks that needed work. 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 also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end. I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 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 multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 contrast of colours that show up in the sandblast of the Shell briar bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This 1960 Dunhill Shell 104 F/T oval shank tapered stem Billiard turned out really well and I was able to reduce the size and overall presence of the band and make it standout less at first look. Once again it really has that classic Dunhill look that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 11th Dunhill and the 10th Shell from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the estate. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.