Tag Archives: Dunhill Shell Briar pipes

Breathing Life into a Worn and Beat up Dunhill Shell Briar EC Canadian for Alex


Blog by Steve Laug

In a previous blog I mentioned that around Christmas time I got together with Alex to enjoy some great hot cocoa, smoke our pipes and talk about all things pipes. I also gave him a batch of pipes that I had finished from his stash and he gave me a few more to work on for him. I always have a great time when we get together and this time was no exception. He greeted me at the door with slippers and an old smoking jacket. I took my seat in the living room among his latest pipe finds and was handed a great cup of cocoa. I set it down and we both loaded out pipes with some new Perretti’s tobacco that he had picked up. We touched the flame of the lighter to the tobacco and sat back and blissfully enjoyed the flavour. As we did Alex walked me through his latest finds. There were some amazing pipes to look at and savour. I already wrote about the Dunhill Bamboo Tanshell with a lot of nice colour happening around the bowl. I refreshed that pipe for him and wrote about it here – https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/08/refreshing-a-dunhill-tanshell-w60-t-1962bamboo-lovat-for-alex/.

He also pulled another Dunhill from the pile of new pipes that he wanted me to work on. It was the exact opposite of the Bamboo in terms of condition. The Bamboo was relatively clean and he had already enjoyed a few bowls through it so it was a quick and easy refresh. This one was a real mess! It was another sandblast. This time it was a Shell Briar Canadian. I carefully took it in my hands and examined it. It was in very rough shape with many cracks in the briar. Alex knew the issues with the pipe but he wanted to know if I could repair it. I assured him that of course it could be repaired and the current cracks stopped. But all repairs to the cracks would essentially be cosmetic and though he could not see them they were still present. The ones going through into the bowl would need to be treated as well. I have repaired many of the pipes that I smoke in this manner and they continue to serve me undamaged for many years after the repair so I was just giving him the facts. He was fine with that and said to go ahead. So I took it home with me.

When I got home I laid it aside and tonight took it up to work on it. I examined the pipe to see what I was working with and took some photos. You can see from the first four photos below that there was something redeeming about the pipe. I think that is what Alex saw. It is a really nicely shaped Canadian. The right side of the bowl was dirty but looked very good. The back of the bowl and right side were full of cracks that went virtually the length of the bowl from the rim top to at least shank height. The rim top had significant damage to the inner edge and the crack on the right side went through to the interior and on top. The stem was pockmarked, dirty and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on both sides just ahead of the button. Overall the pipe a wreck. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup and restoration. Look closely at the second and third photos. You will see the cracks. I took a close up photo of the rim top and the back and right side of the bowl to show the crack damage. I have pointed out the cracks with red arrows for easy identification. The inner edge of the rim also shows burn and poor reaming damage. I took photos of the stem as well. The vulcanite was pitted, oxidized and calcified in the crease of the button. There were some tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button but otherwise it looked pretty good. The pipe was stamped on the heel and underside of the shank with the following nomenclature: EC (the designation for a Canadian) followed by Dunhill over Shell Briar. That is followed by Made in England with a number 3 in superscript next to the D. This tells me that the pipe was made in 1963. After that there is a circle with a 4 in it designating the size of the pipe followed by the letter S which is the designation for Shell Briar pipes. The stamping was clear and legible which actually surprised me given the condition of the rest of the pipe.I think Jeff has spoiled me with working on clean pipes so I decided to start by cleaning up this one. I wanted it clean even before I began to work on the repairs. I find that the cleaning also helps me see things in the finish that I would otherwise miss. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the debris from the nooks and crannies of the sand blast as well as from the inside of the cracks. I rinsed the bowl with warm water and dried it off with a cotton cloth. Once that was done the cracks were very clear but so was the natural beauty of this Canadian shape! With the exterior clean I worked on the interior. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall knife. I did not want to risk the pressure that is put on the bowl sides by the PipNet reamer. I scraped the cake out until the walls were clear. I sanded them smooth with a dowel wrapped in 220 grit sandpaper.I cleaned out the mortise and the airway from the shank to the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I worked on it until the airway was clean and the pipe smelled clean! I cleaned the stem at the same time working around the buildup on the tenon and stem face as well as the airway and the slot. I used alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs for this as well. I was surprised at how clean the internals of the stem were. I expected it to be horrid.With the bowl clean it was time to begin the reconstructive surgery on the bowl. I used a lens to trace the cracks to their end. All of them began at the rim and worked downward. I marked the end with a correction pen (thanks for the tip Paresh). Once I had them marked I used a Dremel and microdrill bit to drill a small hole in the end of the crack to stop it from spreading. Once I had the holes drilled I filled them in with briar dust and clear Krazy Glue (CA Glue). The cracks were numerous so I took a few photos to show the extent of the repairs. My method is a bit different from Dal’s due to my glue. I fill in the crack with the glue and press the parts together. It dries quickly and with no internal pressure holds together well. I go back and fill in the cracks in the bowl with briar dust. I use a dental spatula and pick to work them into the cracks. I put a top coat of Krazy Glue to seal it. I repeat the process until the repair is complete. In the case of the large crack that goes into the interior of the bowl I pressed dust into it as well and the glue from the outside held it in place. I will give it a coat of JB Weld to protect it once I finish the bowl. Once the repairs cure I work over the repaired areas with a brass bristle brush to knock of the loose dust and bits of glue that are on the surface. I used my Dremel and sanding drum to smooth out the interior walls of the bowl and the repair to the crack on the right side of the rim top. I think that the repair is starting to look pretty good.With the repairs cured and the interior and high spots smoothed out it was time for some artistry to bring the Shell finish back to the bowl sides and rim top. I started the process by working over the repaired areas with a wire wheel on my Dremel. I worked over the areas around the sides of the bowl and the rim top. It was starting to look right. The shininess of the repairs was reduced and the finish began to show through. Now it was time to etch the surface of the briar with the Dremel and burrs. The photos that follow show the three different burrs that I use to cut the grooves to match the sandblast. The burrs worked to cut a pretty nice match in the briar.I used the wire brush again to clean off the dust left behind by the burrs. It is hard to tell from the photos but the pattern is really close to the surrounding areas of the briar bowl and shank. With the carving done approximating the sandblast finish under the repairs it was time to stain the bowl. I have found that with a Shell Briar finish I have to use a Mahogany and a Walnut stain pen to match the rest of the bowl. I streak on the Mahogany first and fill in the Walnut around the rest of the finish. I blend them together and the finished look is hard to distinguish from the original stain. I moved on to round out the inner edge of the rim and minimize the damage. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to carefully give the inner edge a very light bevel. Once I was finished with the shaping I ran a Walnut Stain Pen around the freshly sanded edge to blacken it.With the finish repaired and restained I rubbed it down with Before and After Restoration Balm. It is a product developed by Mark Hoover to clean, enliven and protect briar. I worked it into the briar with my finger tips and a horse hair shoe brush. I let it sit for about 10 minutes and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. You can see the results below. With the exterior finish and the repairs completed it was time to mix up a batch of JB Weld to coat the inside of the bowl and protect the walls where the cracks went through. I mixed the Weld and put a pipe cleaner in the airway to keep the weld from sealing off the airway in the bowl. I applied the mixture to the walls with a dental spatula. Once had the walls covered around the area of the cracks I set the bowl aside to cure. I did not put the mixture in the heel of the bowl as it was solid and had no issues. I set the bowl aside and turned to address the oxidation, tooth marks and chatter on the stem surface. The stem was in good condition with some minor pitting. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the tooth marks, chatter and oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper. The stem is starting to look very good.I have been using Denicare Mouthpiece Polish as a pre-polishing agent. It is a gritty, red paste that does a great job in removing the oxidation remnants in the crease of the button and also polish out some of the lighter scratches in vulcanite. I rub it on with my finger tips and scrubb it with a cotton pad. I buff it off with another pad.I finished polishing the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I polished it with Before and After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping the stem down with some No Oxy Oil that  received from Briarville Pipe Repair to experiment with. Once the JB Weld repair had cured I sanded the walls of the bowl to remove the excess material and to make sure the mixture was primarily in the damaged areas of the bowl walls. The repair looked very good. I mixed a batch of pipe mud composed of sour cream and charcoal powder and applied a coat of it to the bowl to protect the walls while a cake formed. I know Alex hates bowl coatings as much as I do but this one is essential given the nature of the cracks. It is just a precautionary step and the coating dries neutral and imparts no taste to the tobacco. After a few bowls you do not even know it is there. After mixing it well I applied it to the walls of the bowl with a folded pipe cleaner. I aim for a smooth coating that will dry dark and black and be almost invisible. When it dries the mixture does not have any residual taste. Once it was coated I set the pipe aside to dry. The mix does not take too long to dry. In about an hour it is dry to touch and almost black. After 24 hours it is black and smooth. The last photo below has been drying about two hours. The only remaining damp spot is in the bottom of the bowl. Once I finished I put the stem back on the shank and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish using a lightly loaded pad and a soft touch. I wanted the shine but not the grit filling in the crevices of the sandblast bowl. I gave the stem a vigorous polish being careful around the white spot. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great resurrection pipe for Alex and looks better than when I began the process. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 5/8 inches, Outer Bowl Diameter: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ of an inch. The pipe will soon be heading back to Alex so he can continue to enjoy it. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.

New Life for a 1964 Dunhill Shell Briar 250F/T 2S Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago I received an email from a fellow in California who I have repaired a few pipes for over the years. He said he was sending me a couple of pipes to work on. The box arrived a few weeks ago and when I opened it I found this message in the box.

Hi Steve — Here are the two pipes as promised. The Dunhill Shell should be an easy resto, but the Barling’s Fossil is another story…. Would like to keep the original finish on the stummels and shanks of both if possible… thanks — Scott

I decided to take a break from Bob Kerr’s Estate for a bit and work on Scott’s pipes. I took the Dunhill out first. I looked it over to check out its condition and what needed to be done with it. The finish was dirty but in decent condition. The edges of the rim top were in good condition though the top itself was caked in lava overflow from the bowl. The bowl had a thick cake inside and remnants of tobacco stuck to the walls. The stem looked good – not a tooth mark of note and only a bit of tooth chatter. There was some calcification on the first inch of the stem on both sides. The stem was also oxidized and dirty. The slot in the button was almost clogged up with tars and debris. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show the condition of the bowl and rim before I started working on it. The rim top looks pretty good. There is some thick lava filling in the sandblast of the rim but the edges look very good. The cake in the bowl is quite thick and hard so the bowl walls should be in good condition. I also took close up photos of the stem surface before I did the cleanup.    The stamping on the underside of the shank is in great shape. It reads 250F/T on the heel of the bowl. That is followed by DUNHILL over SHELL BRIAR. That is followed by Made in England with the superscript 4 and a Circle 2S.Using the information on pipephil’s site I was able to interpret the stamping on the underside of the pipe (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/shell-briar1.html). The 250 F/T stamp tells me the pipe is a shape number 250 while the F/T tells me that the stem is a fish tail stem. The Shell Briar stamp refers to the sandblast finish. The number 4 following the Made in England stamp identifies the date as 1964. The circled 2 is the Group bowl size. The S is the stamping for the Shell Briar finish. http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/shell-briar1.html

With that in mind I turned to work on this pipe. I reamed the bowl to remove the cake on the walls and the debris of tobacco shards that still remained. I used a PipNet pipe reamer with the first two cutting heads to start the process. I followed that with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining cake in the bottom portion of the bowl and near the entry of the airway into the chamber. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. It smooths out the walls and also cleans up any light damage to the inner edge of the bowl. The bowl surface was dirty so I decided to clean the briar with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Briar Cleaner to remove the debris in the finish and the lava in the grooves of the blast on the rim top. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar and let it sit for 10 minutes. I rinsed the bowl off with warm running water to remove the product and the grime. The grain really began to stand out clearly. It was a beautiful piece of briar. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean off the debris that was still in the grain on the rim top. Once I had it clean I wiped it off with alcohol on a cotton pad. I used a Walnut stain pen to touch up the stain on the worn outer edges of the bowl and the rim top. I mixed in some black Sharpie pen to blend it to match the bowl colour.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 and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 10 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I am happy with the blend of the stain on the right side and the overall look of the bowl at this point. Now the bowl was finished except for the final polishing. Once the externals of the stem were cleaned I turned my attention to the internals. I cleaned out the mortise and airway to the bowl and in the stem with 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I cleaned both until the cleaners came out white. It was a dirty pipe. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention back to the stem. I also sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the vulcanite and removed the rest of the oxidation on 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.    I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I buffed the stem with a microfiber cloth.I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. Scott was correct in his note that this was a straight forward restoration. Even so, I am finally on the homestretch with this pipe and I really look forward to the final look when it is put back together and polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish to begin the shine. 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 cross grain and birdseye grain that show up in the polished sandblasted bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This 1964 Dunhill Shell Briar  250F/T Straight Group 2 Size Billiard was a fun pipe to work on. It really has that classic Dunhill Billiard look in a Shell Briar finish that catches the eye. The combination of red and black stains really makes the pipe look attractive. It is a comfortable pipe to hold in the hand and I think that as it heats with smoking that over time the finish will darken and look even better. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 5/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I look forward to hearing what Scott thinks of it once he receives it. I have one more of his pipes to finish before I mail them to him. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

A Fresh Lease on Life for a 1962 Straight Billiard Dunhill Shell Briar # 196 F/T


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had just finished restoring the fourth Dunhill from my Mumbai Bonanza find, a 1949 DUNHILL SHELL #52 F/T WITH PATENT No. 417475/34 and decided to complete restoration of all remaining Dunhill pipes from this collection before moving on to other pipes either from this collection or from my inherited pipes. It feels good to have options to choose from for the next project.

I was fortunate enough to have heeded to the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Mr. Steve, and struck a deal with a trash collector from Mumbai. He did not know what he was selling and I did not know what I was buying as we reside in different cities!! The argument that Mr. Steve presented was that if not anything, I shall at least have some spares and this was logical. I struck a deal and 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, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had hit a huge jack pot!!! Hence, I like to call this find the “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The pipe that I decided to work on from this find is another Dunhill, a 1962 Shell Briar billiard, and is marked in green circle in the picture below. It is stamped on the underside of the shank with the shape number 196 followed by F/T followed by DUNHILL over Shell Briar followed by the COM stamp Made in over England 2 which dates it as being made in 1962. This is followed by Group size number 4 in a circle and letter S for Shell. Dunhill White Dot adorns the top of the vulcanite stem. The stampings are slightly worn out but clear.In this short journey of mine in to the world of pipe refurbishing, I have found that I really like the sandblast finish on these Dunhill pipes, more than the smooth ones. Pardon me if I have hurt the sentiments of some of the readers who think otherwise, but this is my personal choice. I love the smooth finished pipes from Barling, Comoy’s and other British and US (Boswell, Tim West, Lakatosh etc.) pipe carvers. With this musing, I move ahead with the restoration of this beautiful medium sized sandblasted Dunhill straight billiard.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber is clean with a thin layer of cake near the top and thick at the bottom near the draught hole, an indication that its previous Steward had either quit pipe smoking early or could never smoke beyond half a bowl full. From what I can see, the chamber walls appear to be without any damage. The chamber is odorless. There is an overflow of lava on the sandblasted rim top surface. The inner and outer rim edges are undamaged.The stummel boasts of some beautiful sandblast pattern of mix of straight and cross grain all around. It is dirty with grime and tar filling in much of the craggy finish. The briar looks lifeless and dull which is nothing serious to address. The round shank of the Billiard flows into a long tapered stem which has a flare, like a fish tail, at the button end, justifying the stamp F/T. The vulcanite stem shows damage to the button end with light tooth chatter on the upper surface. The lower surface has a couple of deep tooth indentations. The lips have bite marks, distorting the lip edge and will have to be sharpened. The stem is very heavily oxidized; in fact the oxidation has bubbled on to the surface and has the stem has taken on a reddish brown coloration. However, the quality of vulcanite is good. The horizontal slot is clogged with dried oils and tars and so it is safe to assume that even the stem’s airway would require a thorough cleaning. The fit of the tenon in to the mortise (which is has an accumulation of dried oils and tars) is loose and will need to be addressed. Overall condition of this pipe indicates that this should be an easy project, but those who have traveled this route before, will bear with me that there are surprises and pitfalls lurking around every corner on this road.

THE PROCESS
I start this project by tackling the stem first. I flame both the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter. The heat from the flame raises the vulcanite to the surface and takes care of the tooth chatter and bite marks that was seen earlier to a great extent. 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. However, I soon realized that the oxidation was so deep that I needed to use a coarser grit paper and ended up using a piece of 150 girt sand paper!!! I cleaned out the internals of the stem with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I literally had to dig out the gunk which had clogged the horizontal slot with my fabricated spatula. 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 carefully applied it over the damaged lip and set it aside for curing over night. Before moving ahead, I would like to mention here that I had applied this mix in layers, to achieve sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding while shaping the button and achieving the correct lip edge profile.While the stem repair was set aside to cure, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel repairs. There was practically no cake in the chamber and so I directly used a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to sand out the traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures. But, I soon realized that the layer of cake in the chamber was not thin, but quite thick and ended up using size 2 and 3 head of the PipNet reamer. I followed it up by sanding the walls with a 180 grit sand paper. 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. I used my fabricated knife to gently remove the crusted lava from the rim top surface. Continuing with the cleaning regime, using a soft brass wired brush I gently scraped away the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim top surface. With a hard bristled tooth brush and dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the sandblast finish on the stummel and the rim top. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth and set it aside to dry out naturally. The stummel looks fresh and clean. Next, 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 with the beautiful contrasting hues colors that are unique to this sandblast pipe, on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. I set the stummel aside and turned my attention to the stem repair. The fill had cured nicely and I moved ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. For a better blending, I further sand 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 shiny black and beautiful. The internals of the stem was once again cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners to clear the airway of all the debris resulting due to the sanding. The finished stem is shown below. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to my local machine which is similar to the Dremel.  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 pictures speak for themselves. This pipe too is being added to my rack housing Dunhill pipes. I really enjoyed working on this pipe and hope that readers too enjoyed walking with me through this restoration. As always, your inputs and valued suggestions are very important as they help me grow and improve my skill set in pipe refurbishing methods. PS: The stem turned out beautiful, in fact, it is one of the nicest in terms of blending in of the fills and shine. The spots that are seen near the white dot and on the lower surface in the above pictures may appear as blemishes, but they are simply reflection of some light. 

Reconstructing a Broken Stem on a 1964 Dunhill Shell 253 f/t


Blog by Paresh Despande

I had just finished a second of the 30 pipes from my Mumbai Bonanza find, a 1979 DUNHILL BRUYERE 51671; here is the link to the write up; https://rebornpipes.com/2019/03/13/reconstructing-a-broken-stem-on-dunhill-bruyere-51671/

I was fortunate enough to have heeded to the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Mr. Steve, and struck a deal with a trash collector from Mumbai. He did not know what he was selling and I did not know what I was buying as we reside in different cities!! The argument that Mr. Steve presented was that if not anything, I shall at least have some spares and this was logical. I struck a deal and 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, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell 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 next from this find is another Dunhill, a 1964 Shell Briar billiard, and is marked in an indigo circle in the picture below. It is stamped on the heel and the underside of the shank with the shape number 253 over a star followed by F/T followed by DUNHILL over Shell Briar over the COM stamp Made in England 4 which dates it as being made in 1964. This is followed by Group size number 4 in a circle and letter S for Shell. Dunhill White Dot adorns the top of the vulcanite stem. The stampings are deep, crisp and clear. I tried to search on pipedia.org for the significance of the star on the heel. However, the information available did not match with the stampings on the pipe on my worktable. I approached members in my group on FB. Their learned response indicated that Dunhill stamped their replacement stummel with a star at the bottom of the heel. They also assured me that these replacement bowls are intrinsically original with same quality as the original and that this does not affect the value of this pipe.

With assurance, I move ahead with the restoration of this beautiful medium sized and sandblasted Dunhill billiard.

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. There is an overflow of lava on the rim top surface. The inner rim edge show minor unevenness which should be easy to address. It is the outer rim edge that shows significant damage in the form of dents, dings and scratches, all along the circumference. This must have been caused due to hammering of the edge against a hard surface to remove dottle!!!!! This being a Dunhill Shell, it will be a challenge for me to fix these dents. The mortise is clean and so is the shank airway. The condition of this pipe is very similar to the earlier Dunhill Bruyere that I have restored and makes me wonder if these could have come from the collection of the same Steward. The stummel boasts of some beautiful sandblast patterns, a mix of straight and cross grain all around. It is dirty with grime and tar filling in much of the craggy finish. The briar looks lifeless and dull which is nothing serious to address. The round shank of the Billiard flows into a long tapered stem which has a flare, like a fish tail, at the button end and hence the stamp F/T. The vulcanite stem shows significant damage to the button end, in fact, there is no button at all, similar to the Dunhill Bruyere that was restored earlier!!!!! This convinces me that there is a high probability that these have been previously enjoyed by the same Steward. The stem end is missing, well, about an inch of vulcanite. This pipe would have been his favorite and he had continued to enjoy bowls of his favorite tobacco long after the button end had been chewed off. This is evident from the significant tooth chatter on both the surfaces of the stem. 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. The condenser tube inside the stem however will have to be cleaned and sanitized. In this project, repairs to the damaged outer edge and stem rebuild will be a major challenge, the stem more so, as achieving the fish tailed profile of the stem will need to be adhered to for overall aesthetic appeal of this piece of briar. Having just finished the tedious restoration of the Dunhill Bruyere, I am aware of the challenges this restoration will present en-route.

THE PROCESS
Since the stem has significant damage, and from my experience of stem repairs this will be time consuming and laborious part, I start this project by tackling the stem first. I had decided to rebuild the entire stem including the button and the slot, while giving the button end a slight flare which is the trademark of a fish tail stem. 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 first flame both the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter. The heat from the flame raises the vulcanite to the surface and takes care of the tooth chatter that was seen earlier. 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. I have not researched and measured the exact length that I had to reconstruct, but eyeballed the length using the longer right side of the stem where a portion of the button was still intact. 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. While the stem repair was set aside to cure, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel repairs. There was practically no cake in the chamber and so I directly used a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to sand out the traces of 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 regimen, using a soft brass wired brush I gently scraped away the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. With a hard bristled tooth brush and dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the sandblast finish on the stummel and the rim top. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth and set it aside to dry out naturally. The stummel looks fresh and clean. The damages to the outer rim edge are now clearly visible in the above pictures after the cleaning. At this point in the restoration, I was faced with the dilemma of whether or not should I top the bowl to address the rim damage. The issue was recreating the sandblast on the rim top after topping. I put this question to my friends from pipe restoration community on FB. Mr. Steve and Mr. Mark Domingues suggested that I stain the damaged areas with a stain pen and if this does not work, topping is the only recourse available. I went ahead with the suggestion and stained the damaged rim edges and rim top using Mahogany color stain pen. After it had dried completely, I again stained it with dark brown stain pen to darken it further. I set it aside for several hours before working on it any further. Here is how the rim appeared at this stage. Next, 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 with the beautiful contrasting hues colors that are unique to this sandblast pipe, on full display. 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, and in this instance, the blend was perfect. The damaged surface has blended to an extent that it appears like a sandblasted surface. Sometimes in life, the most difficult issues have the simplest solutions!! I set the stummel aside and turned my attention to the stem repair. The fill had cured nicely and I moved ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. This time around it was more  challenging as I had set for my self the aim of creating a fish tail shape (or rather as close a match to fish tail as possible), a straight thin slot and a concave shape to the button end as seen on original stems. Learning from past mistakes, I marked a straight line for the slot orientation and using only the tip of the pointed needle file, I carved out the slot. I followed it up by sanding with folded pieces of 180 grit sand papers to laboriously shape and widen the slot, always taking care to maintain a straight line. Once I was satisfied with the profile of the slot, I went ahead and shaped the button by first achieving a rough shape with a flat head needle file and there after fine tuning it by sanding it down with a 220 grit sand paper. Unfortunately, being so engrossed in this process made me forget to take pictures of the progess of these stages.

For a better blending, I further sand 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 shiny black and beautiful. The internals of the stem was once again cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners to clear the airway of all the debris resulting due to the sanding. The finished stem is shown below. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to my local machine which is similar to the Dremel.  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. 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 lovely 1964 made Dunhill Shell billiard.

 

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 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.