Tag Archives: Hardcastle Pipes

A New Life for a Hardcastle Drawel 50 Billiard from Bob Kerr’s Estate

Blog by Steve Laug

I have only 14 more of Bob’s pipes to finish before I have completed the restoration of his estate so I am continuing to work on them. The next one from Bob Kerr’s Estate is his only Hardcastle Drawel Billiard. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs that include the biographical notes about Bob. Here is a link to one of them (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

The Hardcastle Drawel British Made Billiard with a taper vulcanite stem. It is a smooth finish around the bowl and shank that has a lot of dust and debris ground into the finish of the briar. It was stamped on left and underside of the shank. It is stamped Hardcastle [over] British Made [over] Drawel on the left side of the shank. On the underside it is stamped with the shape number 50. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. There was a metal stinger apparatus that extended from the tenon end into the bottom of the bowl. The vulcanite stem was calcified, oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup. As I mentioned above the exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like because of the lava.      Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl.     Jeff took a photo of the unique stinger contraption in the tenon. It is long and extends into the bottom of the bowl.The next photo show the stamping on the left side of the shank and it is very readable. It reads as noted above. The second photo shows the H stamp on the left side of the taper stem.   The stem was dirty, calcified and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button.    It has been quite a while since I have worked on a Hardcastle pipe so I turned to the Pipedia article on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Hardcastle). I quote both the introductory paragraph and the section on Models and Grades.

Harcastle was founded in 1908 by Edmund Hardcastle and built itself a good reputation among the numerous British mid-graders. In 1935 Dunhill started to build a factory next door to Hardcastle in Forest Road, Walthamstow, London E17. The family owned Hardcastle Pipes Limited sold 49% of its equity to Dunhill In 1936.

Along with closing down its pipe factory in Notting Hill in 1946 Dunhill bought the reing shares turning Hardcastle into a 100% Dunhill subsidiary. As members of the Hardcastle family continued as executives in the company’s management Hardcastle retained a certain independence.

This ended in 1967. Dunhill merged Hardcastle with Parker (100% Dunhill as well). The new Parker Hardcastle Limited also absorbed the former Masta Patent Pipe Company. Hardcastle’s Forest Road plant was immediately given up and the production of Hardcastle pipes was shifted to Parker’s nearby St. Andrews Road factory – now consequently called Parker-Hardcastle factory.

In fact this put a definite end to Hardcastle as an own-standing pipe brand and no one minor than Edwin Hardcastle, the last of the family executives, spoke frankly and loudly of Hardcastle pipes being degenerated to an inferior Dunhill second.

Today Hardcastle pipes use funneled down bowls that are not deemed suitable to bear the Dunhill or not even the Parker name as well as obtaining briar from other sources.

Models & Grades

Family Period – Straight Grain, Supergrain, Leweard, Nut Bruyere, De Luxe, Royal Windsor Sandhewn, Royal Crown, The Crown, Phito Dental, Old Bruyere, Jack O’London, Dental Briar, Phito, Dental, Dryconomy, Drawel, Phithu, Telebirar, Camden, Lightweight, The Table, Dovetail, Dental, Crescent Extra, Lonsdale, Welard De Luxe

It is good to know that I am working on a Family Period Hardcastle before the downgrade of the brand. Now it was time to move on to working on the pipe.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. Bob’s pipes were generally real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. I was surprised to see how well it turned out. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.      I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top had some light damage and the inner and outer edges of the bowl were in excellent condition. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.        I took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank and it is clear and readable. There is also an H stamped on the left side of the taper stem. It is stamped as noted above.       I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. The oxidation is very visible.I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiping it down after sanding pad with a damp cloth.   I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine.        I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I touched up the stamped “H” on the left side of the stem with some Liquid Paper. I applied it and when it dried I scraped and sanded off the excess.   I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  I left a little oxidation around the stamp so as not to damage it more.         This Family Period Hardcastle Drawel British Made 50 Billiard from Bob Kerr’s estate cleaned up really well and looks very good. The mixed stain brown finish on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Hardcastle Drawel Billiard fits nicely in the hand and I think it will feel great as it heats up with a good tobacco. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

A Hardcastle Bulldog Run Roughshod over: The Original Restoration

Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the Author except as cited

Grace is neither gentleness nor fragility.  Grace is treating yourself, others and even inanimate objects with respect.
— Kamand Kojouri, Iranian-born novelist and poet

A former roommate, one of Stephen King’s Constant Readers, once remarked with ridicule-tainted respect that I have always been attracted to needful things.  He was speaking of someone I met not long before then whose tragic life had left him wounded to the core, one of the results being his over-demanding, often verbally corrosive and manipulative treatment of me.  The roommate, who like almost everyone had plenty of his own flaws if less obvious and abusive, said my other acquaintance was no friend of mine.

“That may be true,” I replied, “but I’m his friend and the only one he seems to have, and I just can’t give up on him because that’s not what friends do.”

The physically and emotionally damaged person I undertook to help ended up becoming and remaining my genuine though stormy friend until he died at home 14 years later from an unusual and excruciating autoimmune disorder for which there is no cure.  He was 46.

My affinity for care-challenged pipes, therefore, should come as no surprise.  I try to avoid those with fatal flaws such as bad cracks or burnouts and for the most part reject any with serious holes in the stem, but as a restorer I prefer estate pipes that need some real attention to rehabilitate as opposed to the few I find ready to sell or to keep in my collection with minimal effort on my part.

I don’t even remember how the Hardcastle Special Selection #7 smooth bulldog came into my custody or why I chose to ignore the obvious void of vulcanite below the lip on the underside of the stem.  Other than that handicap, the pipe was nowhere near as mistreated as I’ve seen but was plagued enough by dings, scratches and other problems to keep me happy.

One final initial note: I repaired this bulldog to almost like-new condition more than a year ago but failed to blog it because of personal distractions that have left me with a large backlog.  I sold it for next to nothing to one of my present housemates who decided he wanted me to refinish it as a black dress pipe.  The same pipe is the subject of Part 2 of my series on that subject, and so I was going to include this original restoration in that blog.  But anyone who reads my harrowing account of the experience that could be called too much of a bad thing will understand why I broke the overall work into two blogs.

Intrigued by the atypical presence of a stinger in the Hardcastle, and an unusual one at that, I searched online for such phenomena with a faint hope of dating the bulldog.  Of course, at the top of the list was one of Steve’s blogs from 2014.  No other road I found led anywhere close to Rome, as it were.  Steve’s pipe is a Dental Briar brandy, bearing the Registered Design Number 857327, with a unique – or bizarre – dental stem, a system-type metal rod in the shank extending to the mortise hole, and a different short stubby little stinger of its own.  Here is the Dental Briar stinger before Steve’s restoration and the pipe after his usual fantastic work.Steve narrowed the date of manufacture to the Family Era and concluded his pipe was created from 1949-1967 using the National Registry link below.  However, looking at the same link, I see in Table 6.5 that designs numbered 548920-861679 were registered between 1909 and 1950 and suspect the 857327 might have been pre-1949 – no disrespect intended to the master!  Besides, he’s right to note that his Dental Briar could have been made at any time between its registration and 1967 when the family lost all control of the brand.  His pipe is also stamped MADE IN LONDON ENGLAND on the right shank.

I am not so fortunate.  The bulldog has no Registered Design Number or even the usual right shank nomenclature (London Made, British Made, Made in London England, Made in England).  This nomenclature is not faded, it’s just not there.  Only the left shank identifies it as a HARDCASTLE/SPECIAL SELECTION/7.  All I know for sure is that I tried it out after a basic sanitization, and it was quite good.

For a great synopsis of Hardcastle’s history, see Steve’s blog below.  Details are in the Pipedia link.

RESTORATION I would have removed the stinger anyway as useless, but it was also bent and more fragile than usual, and so I experienced even less than usual emotional distress heating the pointless thing with a Bic and twisting it out.Considering the appreciable grime, I started by swabbing the stummel first with purified water and then alcohol.  In hindsight, I should have skipped the water method that had little effect.  The blemishes stand out even more after the cleansing with alcohol.  The one shot below showing the minor rim damage, an unevenness being the only bad part, and decent chamber condition was taken with a flash and therefore looks pre-water and -alcohol cleaning.  I’m still having to do the best I can with a cell phone cam.  I used 150-, 220-, 320- and 400-grit papers to start shaping up those areas.After that I re-addressed the chamber and unevenness of the rim with a Senior Reamer and the blade from my Peterson’s Pipe Tool and made them a little better with 150-400-grit paper.I gave the shank a preliminary alcohol cleaning and retorted the pipe with a meerschaum stem that wasn’t crippled by a hole but somehow forgot to snap a pic of the latter.With 220- and 320-grit papers I was able to remove the dings and scratches as well as giving the chamber a semi-final what-fer.For some reason, the band popped off, and I still wasn’t happy with the color.  I decided to go at it once more with the 220.A full micro mesh buff made the old pipe begin to shine as it should.By now I should be somewhat known for fancying two-tones with bulldogs and Rhodesians where the top of the bowl above the two lines curves upward to the rim.  For the most part, at least, I’ve left this area lighter than the rest of the stummel, although on occasion I’ve dabbled in darkening it with, say, maroon stain.  This one screamed at me to lighten the top of the bowl as usual under these circumstances.  And so I stained the stummel below the lines with Lincoln brown leather dye, flamed it and after letting it cool took off the char and a little of the darker color with 8000 and 12000 micro mesh pads.  By the way, I was alarmed when I got a look at the first pic below and noticed what to every appearance seems to be a wicked and poorly repaired crack in the shank.  I assure everyone it’s a trick of the light or whatever, as the other pics prove. Gluing the band on again was a formality after buffing it on the electric wheel.Okeydokey, then.  There could be no more avoiding the chomped and degraded stem with its hole on the underside and other shortcomings. I had already given it an OxiClean soak, and it wanted repair.  Just to get an idea of what the stem would look like when finished, I gave it a quickie micro mesh rub.   I cut a little strip of card stock from the business leftover of someone with whom I didn’t care to do any more business and lubed it and a very small tweezers with a dab of petroleum jelly.  I inserted both into the mouth opening of the stem, with the cleaner behind the paper, until they were firmly in place inside the airway to a point just below the hole.  Finding my trusty old vulcanite stem that was long ago destroyed by another stem abuser, I shaved some fine flakes onto a small piece of paper with one side of a narrow, relatively smooth triangle rasp.

This was where I had to be prepared to act fast: I moved the flakes into a pile and added a few drops of black Super Glue, stirred the two into a gritty paste and scooped up a gob with the part of a three-piece pipe tool made for clearing tobacco from the chamber.  As fast as possible without making a mess, I slapped the goop liberally over the hole and set it aside to dry, removing the card stock and tweezers when the vulcanite mixture was dry on the inside but still a little wet on the outside.It’s a good thing I have an excellent recall of what I did in a particular restoration because the photographs I took of this project were more jumbled and duplicated than those from any other pipe on which I’ve worked.  I had so many of the same thing from alternate angles and differing clarity, for example, that I had to delete quite a few to make sense of it.  I concluded this was because of two things, trying different ways to get a good shot with my poor cell phone camera at the time and lack of sleep during the process.  It’s clear, excuse the pun, that some of the “best” are quite indistinct.  The following photos, as a result, are incomplete, but I always have the words to describe what I did.

For example, after the previous step, I started sanding with 150-grit paper and then smoothed it up with 220-, 320- and 400.  A common, less serious groove resulted, and I added more of the black Super Glue/vulcanite mix and let it dry again.  The mixture settled in well.That’s when I got serious with the sanding, using 150-, 220-, 320- and 400-grit paper and super fine “0000” steel wool.There’s still a small lump visible under the lip that I handled with as little abrasion as possible before the stem was done.  And that was it – for the bottom side.  I still had the top to do.  In every way other than the hole in the bottom, the top was worse, although it only needed a dab of black Super Glue/vulcanite solution to fill a small divot following the same initial OxiClean soak and a more vigorous sanding before filling a small divot with.  Considering again the top of the stem when I received it, close up, notice the wear below the square shank fitting before the rest of the work. The stem never quite fit the shank, which had been given a replacement band somewhere along the way, not to mention the band was damaged. After beginning to re-sand the bottom of the stem, the original hole caved in again.  Accepting defeat, I chose a new bulldog stem I had that needed serious filing at first and then sanding of the 9mm tenon to fit the shank. I bent the stem.  That required heating the stem – with a pipe cleaner inserted through the airhole – at 210° F. for about 15 minutes and bending the nice and pliant material over a complex tool.

Remembering the cell phone photos were atrocious and I had to edit them using every halfway adequate means of adjustment available with my so-called photo editor to show any similarity whatsoever to the actual result, here one last time is the stummel as it in fact looked when it was one step from completion before electric buffing.And these are the final photos of the pipe.  The most offensive discrepancies to me are the obscurity of the two-tone and the lack of shine the pipe had.  The bad twist on the stem in the fifth shot of the rear is all on me!

This blog being the occasion of my official announcement in this forum of my new webstore on  my own site, https://www.roadrunnerpipes2k.com/, is unfortunate in that the depictive presentation almost convinced me to give up any idea of writing the blog.  The poor quality and lack of photographs, as well as other stated reasons, were overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of even trying.  Then I thought of the work I put into the briar and the stem alone. In the end, I know how smooth, golden brown and at least hardly blemished the Hardcastle bulldog looked when I was done with it.  Whether anyone else does is of no importance to me.


New Life for a Hardcastle’s London Made Reject Pot

Blog by Steve Laug

This perfectly shaped little Hardcastle’s sandblast pot was the next pipe to my worktable. It is a small almost pencil shank pot. It is stamped Hardcastle’s London Made and across that it is stamped Reject. It has a rich blast on the sides of the bowl and shank. There is a smooth portion on the bottom of the bowl and shank for the stamping and allowing it to be a sitter. My brother took the next photos to show the condition of the pipe before he cleaned it up.hard1He took some close up photos of the bowl and stamping. The bowl had a thick cake and a large overflow of lava on the rim. The lava covered the light blast finish on the rim completely and it was hard to tell the condition of the bowl at this point. The finish was worn and dirty but there were no chips or dents marring the finish. The stem is oxidized and you can see the Hardcastle’s H stamp on the left side near the shank. You can see the stamping on the shank and clearly see the REJECT stamp across the initial stamping. I am not sure why this pipe was rejected. It appears to be a decent piece of briar. There were two small sandpits on the sides of the bowl that I suppose may have caused it to be a reject but that is not clear to me.hard2 hard3My brother did his usual great clean up on the exterior of the pipe. He scrubbed it with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove the finish. He reamed the bowl and removed the lava build up on the rim and left a slightly darkened rim with no burns or damage to the edges. I took the next set of photos to show what the pipe looked like when it arrived in Vancouver.hard4 hard5I took a close up photo of the rim to show the darkening on the back side of the top. It was clean but darkened. There were no burn marks or damaged briar on the edges of the bowl. The stamping is also shown and it remains sharp and distinct.hard6The stem was lightly oxidized and there were tooth dents and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The button had some flattening and wear as well.hard7I used a brass bristle tire brush to scrub the top of the rim and try to clean out some of the darkening on the rim. I was able to remove some of it and make it less pronounced.hard8I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to clean of any remnants of the old finish and to remove the debris from the brass brush work on the rim.hard9 hard10 hard11With the bowl cleaned I stained it with a dark brown aniline stain mixed 50/50 with isopropyl alcohol. I flamed the stain and repeated the process until the coverage was even on the bowl and in the deep pits of the sandblast finish.hard12I took some photos of the pipe at this point in the process. The stain had covered well. The colour was a little dark for my liking and would need to be lightened a bit before I was finished. You can see the sand pits on both sides of the bowl that may have made this pipe a reject. I have circled them in red.hard13 hard14I cleaned the mortise with a dental spatula and then cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I also cleaned out the airway into the bowl and in the stem.hard15To lighten the colour of the stain I washed it down with some alcohol on cotton pads until the colour was more to my liking. The finished colour is shown in the photos below.hard17 hard18I painted the dents in the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter and was able to raise them almost smooth. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the slight dimples that remained in the surface. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and rubbed it down with the oil after each set of three pads. After the final 12000 grit sanding I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.hard19 hard20 hard21I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffer and gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand waxed the bowl with Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad and again by hand with a microfibre cloth to raise and deepen the shine on the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am pretty happy with the finished pipe. Thanks for looking.hard22 hard23 hard24 hard25 hard26 hard27 hard28 hard29

Re-stemming a Hardcastle Pot – Andrew Selking

Blog by Andrew Selking

I picked up this nice looking Hardcastle pot, but when it arrived I realized that it did not have the proper stem.Hardcastle1

Hardcastle2 Fortunately Steve bailed me out and sent a couple of likely replacements. The stem that I settled on had a slightly smaller tenon diameter and the outside diameter was noticeably bigger. This was going to be a fun challenge. I covered the shank with painter’s tape and started reshaping the stem with 100 grit sand-paper.Hardcastle3 Here is a shot after getting to about 80% completion.Hardcastle4 Next, I took the painter’s tape off and replaced it with Scotch tape (since it is thinner) at the end of the shank. At this point I was using 400 grit wet/dry without water.Hardcastle5 Once I completed that step, I took a rubber washer and placed it on the tenon to protect the end of the stem and shank. I used 400 grit to finish the last little bit, frequently taking the washer out to check the fit.Hardcastle This is what the pipe looked like once I had the stem sanded to fit.Hardcastle6



Hardcastle9Next I turned my attention to the bowl. I used the largest reamer to get almost to the bottom and finished it with the next smaller one.Hardcastle10 I used OOOO grade steel wool to remove the tar from the rim.Hardcastle11 Once the bowl was clean, I used my retort to clean the shank.Hardcastle12 This is why I am a firm believer in the retort, pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol came clean, but all this gunk was still inside.Hardcastle13 I used the retort on the stem. Although this picture does not show it, always plug the end of the stem to prevent the retort from boiling over and spitting nasty tobacco juice everywhere (ask me how I know this).Hardcastle14 After the stem was cleaned, I worked on polishing it. I started with 400 grit, then moved to 1500 through 2400 grit micro mesh with water.Hardcastle15 I used the 1500 grit through 2400 grit without water on the bowl, then finished both with a progression through 12,000 grit.Hardcastle16 Now the pipe was ready for stain. This time I used an aniline dye (light walnut) from Pimo Pipe Supply. I diluted the dye by 50% with denatured alcohol, applied it with a cotton ball, flamed it with a lighter, and repeated until I had the coverage I wanted.

After an uneventful trip to the buffer, where I used white diamond and carnauba wax on both the stem and bowl, this is the result. I am really happy how this turned out. Thanks again to Steve for his generosity in providing the donor stem.Hardcastle17





A Unique Piece of Pipe History Almost Lost – A Hardcastle’s Dental Briar Reg. Design No. 857327

I was gifted a little Hardcastle Apple by a friend on Pipe Smokers Unlimited and a reader of the blog, Bill Tonge. It had the most unusual stem that I think I have ever seen on a pipe. In some ways it looked like a classic dental bit like those seen on other pipes. It had the higher curved upper edge of the button that worked to hang behind an upper plate and the grooves on the under and upper side of the stem for the plate to hook into. But that was all it had in common. The end of the stem, viewed from the button end had a single orific opening rather than a slot. It was a flat upright wall of vulcanite with a single hole in the middle. On the flat surface of the stem just ahead of the button was a large open area where it looked as if a piece of the vulcanite had broken or been removed. The airway was exposed. The gap between the dental end and the open end of the airway was a good ¼ inch. Both Bill and I were convinced it was a candidate for a stem replacement, cutback and reshaped button or as a guinea pig for me to practice on using Jacek’s stem splicing procedure.
I can’t tell you how many times I took it out of the repair box to have a look. I would turn it over in my hands and think about the three ways to repair what appeared to be damage. I even sketched out a splice on paper at work on my lunch hour. Then last evening I was looking it over thinking the time had come for the work. As I looked it over I noticed that everything was just too evenly cut. The grooves on the top and bottom did not line up. The top one made allowances for the open area. The open area was also very clean and regular. There were no jagged edges on the area. It was clearly cut that way on purpose. So before I started doing anything with the stem I decided to do a bit of digging.I have included some photos of the stem taken from two different Ebay sales of a Dental Briar Pipe. The first two are a top view of the stem and the last two are of the underside. These show the design of the stem and what I commented on above. The pipe on my table has exactly the same stem and stamping at the ones pictured below.
Hardcastles Dental 1

Hardcastles Dental 3

Hardcastles Dental 2

Hardcastles Dental 4
I looked it over and here is what I found. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the stem HARDCASTLE’S over DENTAL BRIAR over Reg. Design No.857327. On the right side it was stamped MADE IN LONDON ENGLAND. On the underside of the shank it is marked with the number 678, a shape number. Stamped on the vulcanite saddle stem is the Hardcastle’s H. The Reg. Design No. was a clue for me to start my hunt. (See the photo below of a pipe that is stamped identically to the one I have.)
Hardcastles Dental 5
I Googled for information on how to find out about a Registered Design Number. I figured that it would be like finding out patent information. One of the first links came up was to the National Archives. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/research-guides/reg-design-trademark.htm I read through the various pages and put in the design number. I found that the designs having number beginning with 857,000 numbers come from 1949. This number was 857,327 so it was pretty clear to me that the design was registered in 1949. At least I had found that the pipe was a made during the time the Hardcastle family owned the brand. At first I thought the design was solely for the stem but when I removed the stem I found that it was far more than that. It included an inserted metal tube deep in the shank that rested against the airway in the bowl. It extended into the shank where it was met by a metal stinger like apparatus in the tenon. This apparatus was set in the tenon. It was a ball on the end of a short tube – the difference being that it was hollow. The end of the ball that rested against the tube in the shank was open thus connecting the airway in the bowl to the airway in the stem through a metal tube that gave a cool material to wick out the moisture in the smoke before it was delivered to the wide open end of the dental bit.

From there I went to the link for the British Intellectual Property Office. Now the problems arose for me. I could not find the Registered Design Number on that site. Nothing came back listed with that number on any British patent or registration sites. I was hoping to find at least a diagram of the pipe stem and internals as well as a patent/registration application. But there were none to be found on the sites. I wrote an email to the BIPO in hopes that they respond with some information. They wrote back saying that the design was too old and not in their records. They suggested the National Archives. I searched there again and could not access the files on this number. A dead end? Potentially but I would see if I could go at it from a different route.

I searched and read some of the history of the brand. One of the sites I turned to was Pipedia because I have found that they generally have good concise summaries of a particular brand or the lines in a brand. I found some helpful information on the different time periods of Hardcastle’s production. http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=hardcastle. I quote in part below:

“Hardcastle was founded in 1908 by Edmund Hardcastle and built itself a good reputation among the numerous British mid-graders. In 1935 Dunhill started to build a factory next door to Hardcastle in Forest Road, Walthamstow, London E17. The family owned Hardcastle Pipes Limited sold 49% of its equity to Dunhill in 1936.

Along with closing down its pipe factory in Notting Hill in 1946 Dunhill bought the remaining shares turning Hardcastle into a 100% Dunhill subsidiary. As members of the Hardcastle family continued as executives in the company’s management Hardcastle retained a certain independence.

This ended in 1967. Dunhill merged Hardcastle with Parker (100% Dunhill as well). The new Parker Hardcastle Limited also absorbed the former Masta Patent Pipe Company. Hardcastle’s Forest Road plant was immediately given up and the production of Hardcastle pipes was shifted to Parker’s nearby St. Andrews Road factory – now consequently called Parker-Hardcastle factory.

In fact this put a definite end to Hardcastle as an independent pipe brand and no one other than Edwin Hardcastle, the last of the family executives, spoke frankly and loudly of Hardcastle pipes being degenerated to an inferior Dunhill second. Today Hardcastle pipes use funneled down bowls that are not deemed suitable to bear the Dunhill or even the Parker name as well as obtaining briar from other sources.”

Now that I had a bit of a timeline for the brand it was time to see if I could find information on the various models & grades of Hardcastle pipes before the takeover by Dunhill – a time known as the Family Period. On the Pipedia site they listed that during that time the following models/lines were produced. Straight Grain, Supergrain, Leweard, Nut Bruyere, De Luxe, Royal Windsor Sandhewn, Royal Crown, The Crown, Phito Dental, Old Bruyere, Jack O’London, Dental Briar, Phito, Dental, Dryconomy, Drawel, Phithu, Telebirar, Camden, Lightweight, The Table, Dovetail, Dental, Crescent Extra, Lonsdale, Welard De Luxe . I have marked the Dental Briar in bold in the list above to make it stand out in the list. It was produced during this time. It appears that the Hardcastle was taken over by Dunhill in 1946. At that time, family still retained some control but the brand changed. In 1967 the brand was merged with Parker and became Parker/Hardcastle. With this merger Hardcastle as a distinct brand disappeared and the pipe became a line of seconds for Dunhill.

That information at least gives something of a timeline for my pipe. I know that it was made between the year that Registered Design Number gave of 1949 and the merger date of 1967. That is as close a date as I can ascertain at this time.

It seemed that I had found all I would find out about this pipe for the moment. It was time to work on the pipe itself and do the cleanup and restoration. I took the pipe to my worktable and quickly looked it over to see what I needed to address in this refurb. The bowl had an uneven cake in it – heavy in the middle and light at the top and the bottom of the bowl. The briar had several fills that had fallen out or somehow been dislodged along the way – one on the shank visible in the photo below next to the stem, one on the back side of the bowl and one on the bottom of the bowl. The rim was undamaged and quite clean other than a slight build up of tars and oils. The next series of three photos give a good picture of the state of the pipe when I began the work on it.


I removed the stem and cleaned out the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. I scrubbed until they came out clean and unblemished. Then I reamed the bowl and wiped down the inside of the bowl with cotton swabs and alcohol and ran several more pipe cleaners through the shank to remove any carbon dust.
I cleaned out the damaged fills in the briar on the shank, back of the bowl and the bottom of the bowl with a dental pick. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol to clean off the dust and give the glue a clean surface to stick. I then packed briar dust into the crevices and dripped super glue onto the briar dust. I quickly put more briar dust on top of the glue before it dried. I have found that sandwiching the glue between briar dust enables the stain to have a better chance of taking on the patch.

I sanded the patches with 220 grit sandpaper, medium and fine grit sanding sponges and then with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the patches and blend them into the surface of the bowl.


When I had finished sanding the bowl I wiped it down with acetone to break down the finish and remove the waxes on the bowl to prepare it for restaining. When I do this kind of patches on a bowl I restain the entirety of the bowl rather than trying to match the stain in the spots to the whole.


I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain. I heated the briar, applied the stain, flamed it and repeated the process to get a good solid, even coverage on the briar.
When it dried I wiped it down with a cotton pad and alcohol to lighten the stain and make the grain more visible.
At this point in the process I buffed the bowl and stem with red Tripoli and then White Diamond to even out the stain and make it flow better on the bowl. The briar dust and superglue patches blended in quite well on the bottom and back side of the bowl. The one on the shank was visible but at least it was smooth and dark. With some work on the finish I would be able to get it blend better.



I sanded the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads to smooth out the finish and to lighten the stain on the bowl. I was aiming to bring it back as close as possible to the original finish which had red highlights. When I had finished sanding the bowl I gave it a second buff with White Diamond to see where I stood. At this point the work on the bowl was finished and I was pleased with the results. The grain showed clearly and the stain gave a pleasant contrast of dark and light. The patches looked much better and though visible blended in far better with the stain and the grain patterns. The rim and the inner bevel looked excellent.

Now it was time to address the stem. I scrubbed it down with Brebbia Pipe and Mouthpiece Polish. It has a fine grit in the paste and when it is rubbed into the stem works quite well to remove the surface oxidation and buildup. I worked it into the grooves and the dip on the end of the stem with a soft bristle tooth brush. I let it dry for a short time and then rubbed it down with cotton pads. The photos below show the stem after this initial polishing with the Brebbia Polish.



I scrubbed the stem with Meguiar’s Scratch X2.0 and when it dry buffed it off with a cotton pad. I repeated this process several times, scrubbing the grooves and dip on the end of the stem with the same tooth brush. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and when dry took it the buffer for another buff with White Diamond. I gave it several coats of carnauba wax, buffing it with a soft flannel buff between coats. I found it very hard to remove some of the oxidation from the channels/grooves on the top and bottom of the stem. Under the flash it is clear that there is still some oxidation at that point. I rubbed it down with another coat of Obsidian Oil being careful to get deep into the edges of the grooves and the dip on the top of the stem.

The finished pipe is shown in the last series of photos below. I am happy with how this old timer turned out. I am so glad I did my research before cutting off the stem and recutting a new button or splicing in a new button. I would have ruined a unique piece of pipe history and lost the opportunity to learn yet another piece of the history of our fascinating hobby. Now instead it is a restored piece that shows the creativity of those seeking to create a more comfortable pipe. Now I have to load a bowl and give it a try.