Tag Archives: Paresh Deshpande article

Restoration of an Unbranded Bulldog


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

To date, I have completed the restorations of six Dunhill, a Stefano “Exclusive” and a no-name, but handsomely crafted, Italian bent billiards from my “Mumbai Bonanza” lot. Continuing with this lot, the pipe on my work table now is a straight Bulldog, again without any brand or COM stamping. However, the presence of a Red Dot on the stem may offer some clue about its origin. However, I must admit that unlike the previous unbranded bent billiard, this pipe does have minor quality issues. Let’s see if I am able to fix a few of them during the refurbishing process.

For those readers who haven’t been following my faltering and baby steps on this journey, I was fortunate enough to have heeded 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 brands and some mediocre brands. Overall, with seven Dunhill pipes, a Preben Holm #1, a couple of “Made in England” Pete System pipes, a couple of  Charatan’s Belvedere, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had struck a decent haul!!! This is indeed my “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The pipe that I decided to work on from this find is an unbranded straight Bulldog with a diamond saddle stem, and is indicated in red colored arrow in the picture below. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as Aged over Imported Briar, in italics. The stummel is devoid of any other stampings. The only clue which may help in tracing the origins of this pipe is in the form of a Red Dot on the left surface of the diamond saddle stem. The bowl surface show four worm like rustications, which are akin to the ones seen on Wally Frank era Custombilt pipes, two each on either side roughly where one would hold the pipe while smoking. Similarly, one each worm rustication is seen on either side of the bottom surface of the diamond shank. I searched pipephil.eu for any information on this pipe by visiting their “Logos with dots & spots” link, however, without any success. My next attempt to identify the maker of this pipe was by visiting pipedia.org and again I came to a naught. However, the IMPORTED BRIAR stampings are generally associated with pipes designated for American markets and this is where the trail (if at all there was any!!!) ends. If any of the readers has any viable input on this pipe, you are most welcome to share it with the community in form of comments on rebornpipes.com.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
There is a thin layer of cake in the chamber. In order to comment on the condition of the walls of the chamber, I need to ream the cake down to the bare briar. The rim top surface is covered with a minor overflow of lava through which the inner rim edge looks intact. A few minor dents and dings are visible on the rim top surface. The outer edge of the rim, again, is in pristine condition. There is a sweet odor to the chamber. It is here within the chamber that the first quality issue is seen; the draught hole is ever so slightly off-center towards the right side, indicated by yellow arrow.The stummel boasts of some beautiful mixed pattern of straight and cross grain all around. It is dirty with grime, oils and tars covering the stummel surface and added to this are a few dents and dings to the sides and front of the stummel. The worm rustications are filled with dust and dirt and can be seen in the pictures below. The double ring separating the cap from the rest of the stummel is intact and crisp. The end of the shank has an aluminum band which is threaded and extends in to mortise in to which fits the threaded tenon stinger. The band and internal threaded extension is nice and clean with a ‘like new’ shine. Coming to the stem, this is where the second quality issue is seen; the stem appears and feels to be made of plastic (not very sure, as I have seen such shiny vulcanite stems before). The upper and lower surfaces shows heavy tooth chatter in the bite zone, including bite marks to the button. The button on either surface will have to be sharpened and made crisp. The threaded stinger tenon is clean, with no signs of accumulated oils and tars. The condition of the stem airway can be ascertained once it is being cleaned with alcohol and pipe cleaners. The aluminum spacer, that houses the stinger, is clean. The alignment of the diamond shank end with that of the saddle stem is perfect. The third quality issue is that the shoulders around the horizontal slot appear to be sawed off. It is uneven with heavy scratches. THE PROCESS
As decided during my initial appreciation of the condition of the pipe, I start this project by tackling the stem first. I avoid flaming the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the tooth indentation as I am not very sure about the stem material being of plastic or vulcanite. I play it safe and sand the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helps in getting rid of the oxidation while providing a smooth surface for the intended fills to reconstruct the damaged bite zone on both surfaces and also the button edges. I wiped the stem surface with a cotton swab dipped in Isopropyl alcohol. I thereafter, rub a small quantity of EVO oil to hydrate the stem and it was then that I was assured that the stem is vulcanite and my appreciation was incorrect. I cleaned out the tenon and 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 again wiped the stem surface, particularly the damaged button end, with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove any traces of dirt and grime. This was followed by sanding the horizontal slot shoulders on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to level the surface and even out the deep scratches. I shall further smooth it out during polishing the stem. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and carefully applied it over the damaged bite zone on both surfaces and 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 sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding to match the fills with the stem surface and shaping the button.While the stem repair was set aside to cure, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel cleaning. With size 3 head of a PipNet reamer, I took the cake down to bare briar. Using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand out the last 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 gently scraping away the lava overflow from the rim top surface with my fabricated knife. I cleaned the mortise by using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This eliminated all traces of old smells from previous usage. The minor dents and dings to the rim top surface were addressed by topping it over 220 grit sandpaper. I followed up the internal cleaning with external refreshing of the stummel surface. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the stummel and the rim top to remove the overflow of lava from these surfaces. 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 clean, but the rim top surface is considerably lighter than the surrounding stummel surface.  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. By the time I was through with the stem restoration, the stummel had dried out nicely. Using the micromesh pads, I complete the polishing cycle by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 girt pads. I paid special attention to the topped rim top surface during the polishing. The stummel looks great with the grains showing themselves in great splendor, though the rim top surface continues to look a shade lighter. I really like this natural finish to the briar!! I stained the rim top with a dark brown stain pen, applying it in layers and set it aside to set overnight. I deliberately stained it a bit darker as this lightens out subsequently during the buffing and polishing process.  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 about 20 minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful mixed bird’s eye and cross grains on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. To complete the restoration, 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. With a cotton buffing wheel earmarked for Red Tripoli, which has a finer grit than White compound, I buffed the stem to a fine glossy finish. I then re-attach the stem to the stummel, 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. If only this handsome pipe could share the secret of its birth, carver and its past life with all of us……if only!! Cheers.

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Restoring an Unbranded Italian Bent Billiard # 908


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had just finished restoring the sixth Dunhill from my Mumbai Bonanza find, a 1965 DUNHILL SHELL #56 F/T and now this is a no name smooth ¼ bent Billiard from the same lot. This may be a ‘no name’ pipe, but something about the pipe, like the feel in hand, quality of grain and the finish screams of quality and added to that the design elements, are all pointers to a pipe made by a reputed pipe maker.

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 brands and some mediocre brands. Overall, with seven Dunhill pipes, 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 from this find is an unbranded slightly bent billiard, and is indicated in magenta colored arrow in the picture below. It is stamped on the underside of the shank with the shape number 908 at the end of the shank and stem junction. On the right side of the shank it is stamped as IMPORTED BRIAR in a semi circle over ITALY in the center. There is no other stamping anywhere on the stummel. Even the stem is devoid of any stamping. My attempts to identify, with pinpoint accuracy, the maker of this pipe have come to a naught due to lack of any tell tale stampings hinting at the carver. However, the IMPORTED BRIAR stampings are generally associated with pipes designated for American markets and the COM stamp ITALY, is self explanatory. My appreciation is that this pipe was made by an Italian firm as a Basket pipe for an American pipe shop. If any of the readers has any viable input on this pipe, you are most welcome to share it with the community in form of comments on rebornpipes.com.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber which has been reamed and maintained at a thickness of a dime!!! This indicates that this pipe has seen heavy usage but has also been well cared for. In order to comment on the condition of the walls of the chamber, I need to ream the cake down to the bare briar. The rim top surface is covered with overflowing lava through which the inner rim edge appears to be intact. Also through the overflow of lava, a few dents and dings are visible towards the right and back of the rim. Similarly, the outer edge of the rim is slightly damaged on the right side in 4 ‘O’ clock direction. There is a sweet odor to the chamber.The stummel boasts of some beautiful mixed pattern of bird’s eye and cross grain all around. It is dirty with grime, oils and tars covering the stummel surface and added to this are a few dents and dings to the sides and front of the stummel. Surprisingly (because being an unbranded pipe, I expected more!), I could see only one fill (circled in yellow) on the left side of the stummel, another indicator to the fact that this is a quality pipe made by a quality conscious Italian carver. The stummel has an orange hued stain and appears to be coated with lacquer, both of which are not my favorite finish. These will have to go, period! I have the experience of working on a Dr. Grabow, OMEGA and it was not easy to get rid of the lacquer coating. The mortise shows heavy accumulation of dried tars mixed with ash and remnants of tobacco, making the flow of air through the mortise laborious. This will have to be cleaned and refreshed. The vulcanite stem shows major damage to the button end on both upper and lower surface. The upper surface has a through hole in the bite zone, including bite marks to the button while deep tooth marks are visible in the bite zone and button. The button on either surface will have to be sharpened and made crisp. The tenon end is crusted with dried out tars and grime. The horizontal slot shows accumulation of remnants of dried out oils and tars, blocking the air flow through the stem airway. The fit of the stem in to the mortise is loose and will need to be tightened for a nice snug fit. The stem is heavily oxidized; however, the quality of vulcanite is good. The bend on the stem does not match with the plane of the stummel and profile of the pipe. This will have to be addressed. The stem repair, then, will be a major issue to address and I shall begin this project by addressing the stem repairs first. THE PROCESS
As decided during my initial appreciation of the condition of the pipe, I start this project by tackling the stem first. I flame the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the tooth indentation to the surface and follow it up with sanding the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helps in getting rid of the oxidation while providing a smooth surface for the intended fills to reconstruct the damaged bite zone on both surfaces and also the button edges. I cleaned out the tenon and the internals of the stem with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. The grunge had hardened to such an extent that I had to use the dental spatula to dig out the dried out oils and tars. 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. I wiped the stem with a little Extra virgin olive oil to hydrate the stem surface. Firstly, I inserted a pipe cleaner smeared in Vaseline in to the stem air way. This prevents the mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal from permeating in to the air way and blocking it subsequently. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and carefully applied it over the damaged bite zone on both surfaces and 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 sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding to match the fills with the stem surface and shaping the button.While the stem repair was set aside to cure, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel cleaning. With size 1 and 2 head of a PipNet reamer, I took the cake down to bare briar. Using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand out the last 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. It is always a big relief to find the walls of the chamber to be solid with no damage. This was followed by gently scraping away the lava overflow from the rim top surface with my fabricated knife. I cleaned 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. Even though the internals were nice and clean, the sweet smell in the chamber was all pervading. I shall address this issue with an alcohol bath before cleaning the external surface of the stummel. Once the cake was removed and the chamber walls cleaned, I noticed that the draught hole was not aligned to the center of the chamber, but skewed towards the right as you hold the pipe while smoking. I was in two minds; should I correct this alignment by re-drilling the air way through the mortise or let it be. The thick cake indicates that this was a fantastic smoker and a favorite of the previous steward, so should I tamper with its smoking characteristics? Well, once I am through with refurbishing, I shall load a bowl and test it for myself before deciding further course of action. Here are pictures of what I have been discussing above. It was now time for me to address the issue of the sweet smell in the pipe. I stuffed the chamber with a cotton ball. I made a wick out of one cotton ball, wound it around a folded pipe cleaner and inserted it tightly in to the mortise. Using a syringe, I topped the chamber with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol and set it aside on a pipe stand for the alcohol to draw out all the residual oils and tars from the mortise and the chamber. About half an hour later, I refilled the chamber with alcohol and set it over night. By next evening, the alcohol had drawn all the stubborn oils and tars from the mortise and chamber and these were trapped in the cotton ball and wick. I gave a final cleaning to the mortise using pipe cleaners and q-tips dipped in alcohol. The old smells are history and the pipe now is fresh and clean.I followed up the internal cleaning with external refreshing of the stummel surface. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the stummel and the rim top to remove the overflow of lava from these surfaces. 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 clean, but the orange stain now stands out prominently and so does the single fill which I had observed earlier has now increased to four!!!!!!! I checked the fills and realized that it had gone soft and would have to be filled afresh. But before that, I need to remove the orange stain and lacquer coating to let the natural briar shine through and breathe freely. Using a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper, I sand the entire stummel surface to first remove the lacquer coating and thence the orange stain. It took a considerable time to remove the lacquer coat. At the end, I still observed a few patches on the stummel surface where the old stain was still visible. I cleaned up all these patches by wiping the entire stummel with a cotton swab dipped in pure acetone. The stummel is now completely rid of the lacquer coating and the obnoxious orange stain and beautiful swirls of bird’s eye and cross grains now peek through the rough surface. This clean up made the dents and dings to the rim top surface and the outer edge all the more prominent and these are the issues which I tackle next. On a piece of 220 grit piece of sand paper, I top the rim surface, checking frequently the progress that was being made. Once I was satisfied that the dings and dents to the rim surface has been addressed, I worked the outer rim edge to address the dents and dings visible. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger, I created a light bevel on the outer rim edge which masked the dents nicely. I am very pleased with the progress made so far; the stummel has been rid of the orange stain and lacquer, the internals of the stummel are clean and fresh, the dents and dings to the rim top and outer edge has been taken care of and the stem fill has hardened solid. The next issue that I tackled was the issue of newly discovered fills which hitherto fore were hidden under all the stain and lacquer coating. Using the sharp point of my fabricated knife, I gouge out the old fill and replace it with a fresh fill of CA super glue and briar dust. I always over fill the holes so that when I sand them down they are smooth and I can feather in the fills with the rest of the briar. I set the stummel aside to cure. Once the glue dried (very quickly by the way), I resorted to sanding the entire stummel surface using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper and follow it up by further sanding with 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. This step addressed three issues; firstly matching and blending the fill with the rest of the surface, secondly, the dents and dings on the stummel were evened out and lastly, the annoying orange stain and lacquer coating was completely eliminated. Using the micromesh pads, I complete the polishing cycle by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 girt pads. The stummel looks great with the grains showing themselves in great splendor. I really like this natural finish to the briar!!!! This is how the stummel appears 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 bird’s eye and cross grains on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. I was contemplating if at all I should stain this stummel or let the fills be seen as part of its past life; a friend of mine who has taken up to enjoying a pipe, dropped in and saw this pipe. He loved the grains, the shape and heft of this beauty and immediately requested it to be passed on to him. I discussed with him about the stain and he was keen to keep with the natural finish! Since this pipe was being passed on to him, his desire prevailed. This look to the stummel attracted him the most. I am sure that after the final polish and waxing, the grains will be further accentuated. 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. The next stem issue that I addressed was the loose fit of the tenon in to the mortise. To address this issue, I heated the tenon with the flame of a Bic lighter; moving the flame constantly, till the tenon was pliable. I had pre-selected a drill bit which was a tad larger than the tenon hole and gradually inserted it in to the tenon and set it aside to cool down. Once the tenon had cooled down, I removed the drill bit and tried the seating of the tenon in to the mortise. The fit was perfect.Before moving on to the final polishing and wax coating, I had to address the issue of the bend to the stem. Somehow, the existing bend does not suit the profile of the stummel. I exchanged pictures of the stem and pipe with Mr. Steve and he suggested that the stem needs to bend more. I inserted a pipe cleaner through the stem’s air way and heated the stem with a hot air gun till pliable. Using the slot end of the pipe cleaner, I bend the stem eyeballing it in to desired shape. The two precautionary measures which are required to be ensured; firstly, inserting a pipe cleaner in to the stem’s airway prevents the surface from collapsing inwards. Secondly, while bending the stem, heat only up to the place from where the bending is intended. I did try two different bend angles, but that did not seem correct. Third try was successful and the stem now has a nice bend to it and the pipe feels very comfortable in the mouth. To complete the restoration, 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. With a cotton buffing wheel earmarked for Red Tripoli, which has a finer grit than White compound, I buffed the stem to a fine glossy finish. I then re-attach the stem to the stummel, 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. I really enjoyed working on this pipe and hope that readers too enjoyed walking with me through this restoration. If only this handsome pipe could share the secret of its birth and its past life with all of us…if only!! Cheers.

PS: The freshly refurbished pipe was handed over to the new Steward (to use the term coined by my friend, Mr. Dal Stanton) who immediately loaded his favorite tobacco, LANE 1Q, and smoked it with me. He was very happy with the way it smoked and appreciated the easy and smooth draw. This reconfirmed my appreciation that I should not tamper with the alignment of the shank air way.

Reclaiming a Mastercraft “Hand Made” Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

To date, I have completed the restoration of nine pipes from my “Mumbai Bonanza” lot. In this lot, I found one pipe that was pretty battered up and in a very sorry state. It reminded me of an “Imperial Yello-Bole Carburetor” from my grandfather’s collection that I had restored some time back. Here is the link to the write up that was posted on rebornpipes.com; https://rebornpipes.com/2018/11/12/reclaiming-a-yello-bole-imperial-carburator-vest-pipe/

If at that point in time I felt that the Imperial was in a bad shape, holding and looking at this Mastercraft pipe in my hand was gut wrenching to say the least!!!! Believe you me readers, every time I selected a pipe from the Mumbai lot to work on, the first pipe that I would always pick was this pipe!!!!! I was in love with the shape of the pipe, the feel in my hand (which are quite large by Asian standards), the grains peeking out at me from under all that grime, the heft …I could go on singing praises about this pipe. But in spite of all these eulogizing, I always ended up returning it to the box as a future project. Why? Well, the answer lay in the condition of the pipe and the colossal investment of time required restoring it. I knew that this project would test all that I had learned till date and then some more, without the certainties of the end result!! But now I decided to complete this project, however long it may take and whatever the end results.

For those readers who have missed out on my previous work, I was fortunate enough to have heeded to the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Mr. Steve, and struck a deal with a junk 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 brands and some mediocre brands. Overall, with seven Dunhill pipes, a Preben Holm #1 FH, a couple of “Made in England” Pete System pipes, a couple of  Charatan’s Belvedere, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had struck a decent haul! This is indeed my “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The tenth pipe that I decided to work on from this find is a straight pot and is indicated in yellow colored arrow in the picture below. It is stamped on the left side of the shank in a shield as Mastercraft in sentence form over HAND MADE in block capital letter. The right side of the shank is stamped in a straight line as AGED IMPORTED BRIAR in block capital letter. If at all there was any other stamping on the right side, it has been consigned to history due to severe damage further down the shank. The stem is apparently devoid of any logo stamp as I see it now. If at all there ever was a logo, it has completely worn out/ obliterated. Now coming to the research of this brand, which is my first, I referred to rebornpipes.com and as expected, Mr. Steve has extensively researched this pipe and has even posted some interesting old catalogs and hierarchy of the pipe lines from this brand. Here is the link;

https://rebornpipes.com/2014/06/23/a-mastercraft-pipe-lines-hierarchy/

I surfed further and found an interesting post on restoration of a Mastercraft Executive Choice by the master restorer himself, which amongst other details, included two photos from the 1969 RTDA Almanac which show a list of various MC pipe lines. The pipe currently on my work table is the very first one in the list and was the top most in MC hierarchy of pipe lines and also the most expensive of all MC pipes retailing for $ 10!!!!! Here is the link for the essay and I urge all readers to give it a read.

https://rebornpipes.com/2014/06/22/learned-a-bit-of-american-pipe-history-mastercraft-executive-choice-pot-restored/

Thus, I can now safely conclude that this pipe is from the late 1960s, had been a top-of-the-line product for MC and retailed as the most expensive pipe in its inventory!!!! Well, after this search, I feel the additional pressure in doing complete justice to this pipe to the best of my abilities and that I will have to up my game a notch higher.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
I really do not understand where I should start from, which damaged inch of the pipe I should describe first, let alone tackle and about which I am not even thinking at this point in time!!!!! But to finish, I have to make a beginning and let me just start with the chamber and the rim.

A thick layer of cake can be seen in the chamber. The rim top surface is covered in thick overflow of lava, okay; consider that as VERY thick, which has bubbled on to the rim top and further oozed over on to the stummel surface. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber and rim top surface will be known once the cake has been taken down to bare briar and the rim top crud has been scraped off completely (thankfully readers cannot see or hear me muttering silent prayers!). The less I speak about the edges of the rim, the better it will be for my morale. Every millimeter of the outer edge has been damaged by striking against table end by the previous steward, however I must thank the previous steward for ensuring an even all round damage…lol. The inner rim condition does not look too promising either! I suspect a charred rim in 7 o’clock direction (when held from the stem end) and is marked in red circle. However, once the cake has been removed, I shall be certain about the extent of this charring and any other damage (praying again, in fact I haven’t stopped praying since I began and unlikely to stop till I finish!). Another issue which I have noticed is that the briar in the heel around the draught hole has formed a valley of sort (marked by yellow arrows), probably caused due to repeated and rigorous thrusting of a pipe cleaner through and beyond the draught hole over the years. Why would you clean the mortise and airway in this fashion??The most significant damage is seen to the stummel. It appears that this pipe has seen active duty and has been extensively and actively used against Viet Cong by the previous steward with great success…..LOL!! Every inch of the stummel surface is peppered with a large number of deep scratches, dents and dings. The entire left side of the stummel has prominent nicks extending from the rim top right down to the foot of the bowl. There are deep road rash marks on the right side of the shank just below the stamping, extends over to the underside and towards the shank end and further extends over to the stem for about an inch from the tenon end towards the button end (marked in pastel blue circle). The damage to the shank end and stem is so perfectly aligned that it appears that the damage was sustained while the stem was attached to the shank. In short, the stummel has sustained massive damage over the years due to both, rough usage and subsequent careless storage. It is covered in oils, dirt and grime of all these years of smoking and subsequent uncared for storage. The stummel surface is sticky to the touch, giving the stummel a dull, lifeless and lackluster appearance. However through all this dirt, tar, oil, grime and damage, lovely densely packed straight grains can be seen on the sides and shank. It will be a challenge to address these issues and make the grains to reveal themselves in all glory. The mortise is blocked with dried gunk, adversely affecting both the airflow and the seating of the tenon in to the mortise. The stem is also an equal disaster like the stummel with road rash marks on the right towards the tenon end. There is a round patch nearer to the button which appears to be a result of melting of the vulcanite. In all probability it had come in close contact with either a burning cigarette or some sort of a flame. It seems that the previous Steward used softie bit on his pipes as heavy oxidation can be seen where the bit was used. The bite zone, including the button edges shows dental compressions on both upper and lower surfaces. The button edges will have to be reconstructed and sharpened. The stem does not sit flush with the shank end and also the stem diameter around the road rash area has scrapped off resulting in a mismatch. This stem diameter will have to be rebuilt and I expect that once the mortise has been cleaned up, seating of the stem in the mortise would improve. The horizontal slot with a round center shows accumulated oils and tars. The stem surface shows signs of heavy oxidation. THE PROCESS
As decided during my initial appreciation of the condition of the pipe, I start this project by tackling the stem first. I flame the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the tooth indentation to the surface and follow it up with sanding the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helps in getting rid of the oxidation while providing a smooth surface for the intended fills to reconstruct the damaged bite zone on both surfaces and also the button edges. I wiped the stem surface, particularly the damaged button end, with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove any traces of dirt and grime. I cleaned out the tenon and the internals of the stem with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Once I was satisfied with the internal cleaning, to revitalize the vulcanite and to have a fair idea of the progress made, I wiped the stem with a little Extra Virgin Olive oil. When I looked at the tenon end of the stem, I realized the right portion of the stem, as seen from above, was not as round as the left and would need a fill so as to bring it flush with the shank end. However, I would have to fine tune the sanding of the fills on both shank end as well as the stem simultaneously in order to achieve a perfect flush fit. The portion that would require a fill is marked in yellow.I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and carefully applied it over the damaged bite zone on both surfaces, the side and lip and set it aside for curing over night. The mix was applied along the circumference of the tenon end stem which had been scrapped. I had applied this mix in sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding to match the fills with the stem surface and shaping the button.While the stem repair was set aside to cure, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel cleaning. With size 3 and 4 head of a PipNet reamer, I took the cake down to bare briar. Using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand out the last 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 show a few heat lines, nothing serious, but they are present. These heat lines and the ridges on the bottom surface of the heel will be addressed later. This was followed by gently scraping away the lava overflow from the rim top surface with my fabricated knife. I cleaned 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. The suspected charring that I had appreciated early on is now confirmed. The rim has thinned out considerably above the draught hole. The inner rim edge is also uneven. I shall be addressing these issues too subsequently.

I followed the cleaning of the chamber with the cleaning up of the shank, mortise and the air way. Using hard bristled pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol, I ran a few through the mortise. This moistened the hardened grungy depositions of all the oils and tars in the mortise. Thereafter, using my fabricated dental spatula, I scraped out all the accumulated oils and tars from the shank. The following picture hints at the degree of the grunge deposition that I was dealing with. I continued the mortise cleaning regime with shank brushes dipped in alcohol. However, the pipe cleaners continued to come out dirty and soiled unabated. This would need application of some serious cleaning process using salt and alcohol treatment.I rolled some cotton in to a wick and wound it around a pipe cleaner and inserted it inside the mortise up to and through the draught hole. Next, I packed some cotton in to the chamber and topped it with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol and set it aside for the time being. About twenty minutes later, I topped it again with alcohol and set it aside overnight for the alcohol to draw out all the tars and oils from the chamber walls and the cotton to trap the drawn out gunk. I must clarify here that even though it is recommended to use ‘Kosher Salt’, plain cotton and alcohol works with exactly the same effectiveness, but at nearly ¼ the cost of Kosher Salt!! So, in case someone else is paying, go ahead with using Kosher salt, otherwise cotton and alcohol works just fine! By next day evening, the alcohol and cotton had fulfilled its intended task. I ran a pipe cleaner through the mortise for a final clean and it came out……well, soiled black and dirty! The gunk and grime in this pipe was stubborn, indeed. I again went through the entire regime followed earlier to clean the mortise and was surprised to find the amount of grunge that was scraped out again. The crud that was extracted and the number of pipe cleaners used after the alcohol bath, as can be seen in the photographs, bears testimony to the extent of apathy the pipe was subjected to by the previous steward. I followed up the internal cleaning with external refreshing of the stummel surface. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the stummel and the rim top to remove the overflow of lava from these surfaces. 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 clean, but the road rash, dents and dings to the stummel and rim edges/ top now stands out prominently. I followed it up with sanding the entire stummel with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This serves three purposes; firstly, it removes all the stubborn dust and grime from the surface, secondly, it evens out, to a great extent, any minor dents and dings from the surface and thirdly, it provides a smooth and clean surface for intended fills. With the road rash evened out to the extent possible, I repaired the road rash with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue. I always over fill the holes/ surfaces so that when I sand them down they are smooth and I can feather in the fills with the rest of the briar. I also build up the shank end, which was damaged due to the road rash, with this mix. I set the stummel aside to cure.Once the glue dried (very quickly by the way), I attached the stem to the shank end carefully aligning the stem fill with that of the shank end fill. I sand the entire stummel surface and the stem using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper and matched the shank end with the stem fill. Once I had achieved a match, I detach the stem from the shank end. On close observation, I found that the shank end repairs had several tiny air pockets. I again filled up these air pockets with clear superglue and set it aside for curing, while I worked the stem. Using a flat head needle file, I reshaped the button and follow it up by further sanding the stem with 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. Using the micromesh pads, I complete the polishing cycle by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 girt pads. The stem looks great with the fills nicely matched with the rest of the surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface. With the stem repairs completed, I turn my attention back to the stummel repairs. The second fill to the road rash portion had cured and I sand it with a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. However, I realized that the air pockets were still visible. I discussed this with my mentor, Mr. Steve, who suggested that I should first go through the micromesh polishing cycle and then decide if a refill is required or otherwise. With this advise, I move ahead to complete the stummel repairs. I top the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to even out the rim surface dents and dings and also to reduce the charred rim surface. I addressed the out of round inner edge and the dents and dings to the outer rim edge by creating a bevel on both these edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger. The numerous scratches, dents and dings to the stummel surface was beginning to concern me as it was a conflict between my innate desire not to lose briar through sanding and the necessity to do just that if I desired to completely rid the stummel of all these evidences of its past and thin out the walls in the process. Readers, believe you me, these damages were deeper than you normally expect. I shall take a fresh call on this issue after I am through with the micromesh polish cycle.

However, no sooner than I was through with wet sanding using 1500 to 2400 grit micromesh pads, the air pockets in the fill to the road rash stood out like sore thumb. I repeated the process of freshly filling it with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust. I set the stummel aside for the fill to cure.After the fill had cured sufficiently, I sand and match the fill with rest of the surface using a 220 grit sand paper. This was followed by polishing the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wipe the surface with a moist cloth to remove the resulting dust. The stummel, at this stage, looks absolutely stunning with beautiful straight grain popping out from every inch. The dents, dings and scratches, though visible, are no longer an eye sore. In fact, it lends the pipe an aura of being a survivor and invincible. I decide to let the marks be! 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 straight grains on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. The only stummel issue that needs to be addressed is that of the ridges at the heel near the draught hole. The first thing I do is insert Vaseline smeared folded pipe cleaner in to the mortise right up to the draught hole and slightly beyond. This prevents the draught hole from getting clogged. I begin by wiping the heel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean it. I make a mix of the two components of JB weld; hardener and steel in equal measures. The mix remains pliable for 6 minutes, which is adequate to spread it evenly and fill the worn out heel surface. I also covered the indentation formed on the front wall. Once I had achieved a satisfactory spread, I set the stummel aside for 4-6 hours for the weld to cure. The weld has hardened and I sand the fill to a nice smooth and even surface with a 180 grit sand paper. It was not an easy task as I had to do it manually with the sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger. But I managed with satisfactory results. I shall be coating the inner walls of the chamber with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt. This will not only help in faster build up of the cake but also isolates the weld from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco. To complete the restoration, 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. With a cotton buffing wheel earmarked for Red Tripoli, which has a finer grit than White compound, I buffed the stem to a fine glossy finish. I then re-attach the stem to the stummel, 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. I really enjoyed working on this pipe and hope that readers too enjoyed walking with me through this restoration. If only this handsome pipe could share the secret of its past life with all of us… if only!! Cheers.

PS: After I was done with all the polishing and buffing, I gave the walls of the chamber, a nice and even coat of activated charcoal and yogurt. I am very happy that this pipe has gone to a war veteran Officer who loved the scars and the grains on this pipe, not to mention my figment of imagination that this pipe appears to have seen action against the Viet Cong and survived!! It was at his request that I did not stain this pipe to mask the fills. This fighter has indeed come a long way as can be seen from the pictures below.

 

A Simple Refurbishing of a Bari “Matador”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

During one of the many crib sessions with my mentor, Mr. Steve, I lamented on a couple of failed deals when he suggested me a couple of sellers on eBay with whom he has been dealing without any problems. I tried them out and they have delivered every time spot on!!!! From one of the sellers I had purchased this beautiful and nicely shaped Free Hand pipe. Now, to be honest, I am always fascinated by “Free Hand” pipes. I feel these freehand shapes let the creativity and imaginations of a carver run riot without the bindings of the exacting demands of a classical shape and finish and he has the freedom to allow the grain to dictate the shape of the pipe.

This beautiful free hand pipe has a very interesting shape and I think the following pictures will do more justice rather than my SORRY attempt at its description. The plateau rim top and shank end add a unique dimension to the overall appearance of this pipe. The left side of the stummel is sandblasted with beautiful wavy pattern of straight and cross grains and is the mirror image of the smooth surface on the right side of the stummel. The short shank is smooth surfaced and bears the stamping on the left side. It is stamped as “BARI” over “MATADOR” like a football over “HANDMADE” over “IN DENMARK”. The fancy vulcanite stem is devoid of any logo. I searched the net for information about this brand and its creator. I first turned to pipedia.org and learned that “Bari Piber was founded by Viggo Nielsen in Kolding around the turn of 1950/51. Viggo’s sons Kai Nielsen and Jørgen Nielsen both grew into their father’s business from a very young age and worked there till 1975. Bari had very successfully adapted the new Danish design that had been started mainly by Stanwell for its own models. When Viggo Nielsen sold Bari in 1978 to Van Eicken Tobaccos in Hamburg Bari counted 33 employees”, detailed read is available at this link; https://pipedia.org/wiki/Bari

I further searched other sites, including my go to site, rebornpipes.com, to know about this particular “MATADOR” series, including dating of this model. However, there is no mention of this particular line of BARI pipes. I hope some of the learned and experienced readers would be kind to share their knowledge with me and other readers.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The stummel is covered in dust, oils and grime giving a dull and lackluster appearance to the bowl. The sandblast rustications on the left of the stummel are, likewise, filled with dust, dirt and grime. This will need to be thoroughly cleaned. The plateau rim top and shank end too, are covered in dust, grime and lava overflow. The chamber tapers down towards the draught hole. This will pose a challenge cleaning the heel of the chamber due to the difficult reach. The cake appears to be evenly thick. The plateau rim top is covered with overflow of lava. The inner rim edge is crisp, even and intact. The chamber has a nice smell to it and is dry to the touch. The inner wall condition of the chamber will be ascertained once the chamber has been completely reamed. However, I foresee no issues at all as the bowl feels solid to the touch.The fancy stem is oxidized and came with a rubber bit. With some trepidation, I removed the rubber bit and was pleasantly surprised to find a pristine bite zone and crisp, sharp and well defined lip edges. Since there are no logo stamped on the stem surface, cleaning it should be a breeze.The shank, mortise and the airway is clogged and will only need to be cleaned and sanitized.THE PROCESS
The first step that I usually follow is the reaming of the bowl. I worked on the stummel, reaming out the cake with a Kleen Reem reamer, followed by a pipe reaming knife that I had fabricated. I brought the cake down to the bare briar. To further remove any traces of old cake and smooth the inner walls of the chamber, I sanded the inner wall surface with a 220 grit sand paper. The large mound of cake that was reamed out from the bowl far exceeded my appreciation regarding the quantity of cake in the chamber. The walls of the chamber were solid as expected; however, the old smells were still strong. I followed the reaming of the chamber with cleaning of the mortise. Using hard and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol, I cleaned out the mortise and shank air way. With my fabricated spatula, I scrubbed out all the dried crud and gunk from the mortise. The amount of gunk that was scraped out from the mortise really surprised me. A number of pipe cleaners later and after a lot of scraping, the mortise is finally clean.The pipe smelled of old aromatics and even with the bowl and shank clean the smell was present. I stuffed the bowl with cotton balls and used a syringe to fill it with isopropyl alcohol. I have found that cotton balls work as well as Kosher salt does and it is not as messy. I put a cotton swab wound around a bent pipe cleaner in the shank up to the entrance of the airway into the bowl as it wicks alcohol into the shank and draws out the oils in that area. I put the pipe bowl upright in a “katori” filled with rice grains and let it sit over night to let it do its magic. The second photo shows the cotton balls, discolored with the oils after sitting overnight. Once I removed the cotton balls I scrubbed out the shank and airway with pipe cleaners and paper napkins to remove any remnants of alcohol left behind.While the stummel was air drying, I worked the stem. I started with sanding the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. This was followed by sanding with 400 and 800 grit sand papers. This reduces the scratches left behind by the coarser 220 grit paper. I sharpened and refreshed the button with a folded 220 grit paper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rub a small quantity of EVO oil and set the stem aside. Next, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with a hard bristled toothbrush and Murphy’s Oil soap. Very diligently, I scrubbed the plateau rim top and shank end to remove the entire dust and lava overflow embedded in the crevices of the plateau. Once the stummel was dried with paper napkins, I was not satisfied with the cleaning of the rim top and shank end plateau surface. Using a brass wired brush, I thoroughly scrubbed the plateau rim top and shank end. I was pleased with the way these surfaces appeared after this clean up. To bring a rich luster and highlight the beautiful straight grains on the smooth bowl and shank surfaces, I subjected these surfaces to a polish with micromesh pads. I wet sanded the surface with 1500 to 3200 grit pads and dry sanded with the remaining micromesh pads. The stummel looks really beautiful at this stage of refurbishing the pipe. I rubbed some “Before and After Restoration” balm deeply in to the stummel with my fingers. This balm helps in rejuvenating and protecting the briar wood. The immediate and incredible transformation that takes place is a worthy reward for all the efforts!!! The straight grains can now be clearly appreciated. I let the balm be absorbed by the briar for about 15-20 minutes and then buffed it with a horse hair shoe brush. The bowl now looks fresh and attractive with the grains popping out any which way you look at the briar. To complete the restoration, 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. With a cotton buffing wheel earmarked for Red Tripoli, which has a finer grit than White compound, I buffed the stem to a fine glossy finish. I then re-attach the stem to the stummel, 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. This one shall be added to my modest collection of free hand pipes. Thank you for your valuable time spent in reading this chronicle of my journey.

Restoring a 1965 Dunhill Shell Briar # 56 F/T 3/4 Bent Billiard


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had just finished restoring the fifth Dunhill from my Mumbai Bonanza find, a 1962 DUNHILL SHELL #196 F/T and now this is the sixth. I am left with only one Dunhill pipe to complete from the Mumbai Bonanza, a smooth finish LB.

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 brands and some mediocre 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 1965 Shell Briar 3/4 bent billiard, and is marked in pastel pink circle in the picture below. It is stamped on the underside of the shank with the shape number 56 followed by F/T followed by DUNHILL over Shell Briar followed by the COM stamp Made in over England 5 (underlined) which dates it as being made in 1965. 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 very slightly worn out and easily readable.In this short journey of mine in to the world of pipe refurbishing, this particular pipe has one of the deepest and beautiful sandblast patterns that I have come across. The sandblast on this pipe speaks volumes about the skills of the pipe carver. With this thought, I move ahead with the restoration of this beautiful medium sized sandblasted Dunhill bent billiard and restore it to its glory.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber is clean with a decent and even thick layer of cake. 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 walls appear to be thin. Is this a case of over reaming or is it because the carver decided to compromise the wall thickness for deeper sandblast patterns?The stummel boasts of some beautiful sandblast pattern of mix of straight and cross grain all around. It is dirty with grime, oils and tars filling in much of the craggy finish. The briar looks lifeless and dull. The mortise shows minor accumulation of dried tars mixed with ash and remnants of tobacco. This will have to be cleaned and refreshed. The vulcanite stem shows a minor damage to the button end with minor chatter on the lower surface. The lip edges have a few bite marks and will have to be reshaped and made crisp. The stem is oxidized; however, the quality of vulcanite is good. The white dot on the upper surface has faded in some places but is still distinctly visible. This cannot be helped and status quo has to be accepted.There are no major issues to address here on this pipe; just a little TLC and the pipe should be good to go…nah, find a place of pride on my rack!!

THE PROCESS
I start this project by tackling the stem first. I sand the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to erase the minor tooth chatter on the lower surface, get rid of the oxidation and provide a smooth surface for the intended fill to reconstruct the button edges. 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. 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 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 cleaning. With size 3 head of a PipNet reamer, I took the cake down to bare briar. Using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand out the last 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. I followed up the internal cleaning with external. 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. 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. I really enjoyed working on this pipe and hope that readers too enjoyed walking with me through this restoration. If only this old warrior could share its past life with all of us…if only!! Cheers.

 

 

 

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. 

An Easy Sprucing up of a 1949 Dunhill Shell # 52 F/T


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Believe you me friends, this is FUN!! Being able to work on different pipes, be able to choose your project, choose a brand you wish to work on, is an exhilarating experience for me. Prior to the Mumbai Bonanza striking me, I was restricted mostly to working on my inherited collection of pipes, each complete with its stem challenges and similar stummel condition and was getting slightly monotonous to say the least.

I was fortunate enough to have heeded 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 from this find is a smallish full bent Dunhill Shell billiard, and is marked in pastel blue circle in the picture below (the ones circled in red and yellow are completed projects). This is a beautiful deeply sandblasted billiard with a lovely tactile feel in the hand. The play of dark red brown hues on the sandblast makes for a visual treat. It is stamped on a smooth surface on the foot and the underside of the shank with the shape number 52 followed by F/T followed by DUNHILL Shell Made in England 9 (9 is underlined) 0 all in a straight line over PATENT No 417574/34 followed by an encircled 3 at the shank end. This stamping indicates that this pipe is a fishtailed group 3 sized shell and dates this pipe to being manufactured in 1949 and sold in 1950.  The Trademark Dunhill White Dot adorns the top of the vulcanite stem. The stampings are deep, crisp and clear.With this information, I move ahead with the restoration of this beautiful sandblasted Dunhill bent billiard.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber has a thick layer of even and smooth cake which indicates that the pipe has been well used but also well cared for 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 blasted rim top surface. The inner and outer rim edges appear to be in pristine condition. The mortise is clean and so is the shank airway. The stummel boasts of some beautiful deep sandblast pattern all around. It is dirty with grime and oils filling in much of the craggy finish. The briar, in this condition also, looks amazing. I can’t wait to see after I have worked on it. The round shank of the bent billiard flows into a bent 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 with deep bite marks on both upper and lower surface of the stem. The lip is also severely damaged and will have to be reshaped. In this project, repairs to the damaged stem will be a major challenge, however if compared to previous stem repairs, this should be a cake walk.

THE PROCESS
Since the stem has significant damage, and from my experience of stem repairs, this will be time consuming and laborious part and hence I start this project by tackling the stem first

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 with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to get rid of the oxidation, have a clear idea of the areas which require fill and its extent while providing 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 prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and generously applied it over the damaged surface and set it aside for curing over night. Before moving ahead, I would like to mention here that I had applied this mix 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. I start the reaming with a size 1 head of the PipNet reamer and progress to size 2 head. I further clean the chamber with a folded piece of 180 grits sand paper to sand out the remaining traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures. Using my fabricated knife, I gently scrapped away the lava overflow. 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. This also eliminated all traces of old smells from previous usage. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage. 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. 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. After I had applied the balm, the rim top surface appeared too darkened and unclean. I was not happy with the way the rim top looked at this stage and decided to further clean it. I scrapped the rim top surface with a brass wired brush with a bit more pressure than I normally apply. The rim surface appeared clean as can be seen in the picture below. I reapplied the balm, hoping that the surface would look clean with the sandblast patterns showing themselves proudly. But alas!! The rim top surface appeared as before, blackened and unclean. I was at my wits end when after repeated cleaning with the brass brush with increasing pressure each time, the rim top surface appeared as before, dark and unclean. Mind you readers, being a sandblasted surface, topping really was not an option that I desired to adopt. I let the rim top surface be, satisfied that it was clean and sans any old lava overflow. In my exuberance to appreciate the beautiful and rugged patterns on the stummel caused by sandblasting, I missed out on cleaning the mortise and the shank airway. This is what exactly I addressed at this stage. Using bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol, I first moistened the oils, tars and gunk in the mortise. Thereafter, with my fabricated spatula, I scrapped out all the tars and oils from the mortise. As I progressed with my cleaning, eventually the pipe cleaners started coming out clean indicating that the shank internals are clean.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 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 deeply sandblasted surface proudly displays the contrasting dark brown hues which was the hallmark of Dunhill Shell pipes with a nice tactile feel in the hand. It surely is one of the best looking sandblasted pipes and will find a place of pride in my humble collection. As and when I load this pipe with my favorite tobacco (I love my English blends…) and sip my scotch, I wish this dude could tell me all about its past life!! Ah, this would be bliss…cheers!