Tag Archives: repairing a bite through with super glue and charcoal powder

Fresh Life for a Comoy’s Marble Arch 78 Apple with a Military Bit


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction from St. Albans, West Virginia, USA.  The pipe is classic looking Comoy’s Apple that has a marbleized acrylic shank extension.  The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Comoy’s [over] Marble Arch. On the right side of the shank it has the Comoy’s COM stamp Made in London in a circle over England followed by the shape number 78. The stain is a mix of browns and blacks that contrasts well with the marble like shank extension. The finish was very dirty with grime ground into the finish making it hard to see beyond that to the grain underneath. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava onto the rim top and edges. It was hard to know at this point the condition of the rim edges. The stem was oxidized and calcified and looked to be stuck in the shank extension. There were not many tooth marks or chatter but there was a large chip of vulcanite out of the button on the underside. The stem had the inlaid three part C logo on the left side. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the condition of both. It was thick and hard cake but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the condition of both sides. The underside has a large chip missing out of the button end.     Jeff took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. It has thick grime on the surface and ground into the finish.  Jeff took photos of the stamping on the shank sides to capture it. It is very clear and readable.  The next photos show the fit of the stem in the shank extension and the tars and gunk that locked in place. The stem has the older 3 part C inset on the left side.  When Jeff turned the stem to remove it from the shank the shank extension came off instead. The glue on the tenon that held it in place had dried and the extension was loose.This pipe was a real mess like many of the pipes we work on. I was curious to see what it would look like when I unpacked it. I was surprised at how good it looked. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem 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 on the bowl looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked much better and the inner and outer edges were looking good. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked better other than some light oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter in the surface. The chipped button on the underside of the stem was clean but very visible. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.  I took photos of the condition of the rim top and stem before I started working. The rim top looks better than before and other than some slight darkening there is no other damage. The bowl is spotless. The stem is lightly oxidized and has some major damage on the underside at the button. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. At this point I tried to remove the stem from the shank extension and was surprised with the shank extension came off and the stem was not moveable. I tried to twist it and it was stuck solid in the extension.I decided to start my work on this pipe by separating the shank extension and the stem. I put it in the freezer overnight and it had no effect. It was still stuck. I used a folded pipe cleaner to drizzle acetone down the joint of the extension and the stem. I continued that process for the better part of a day. Finally last evening I was able to wiggle the stem free from the extension. Both were incredibly dirty at the junction. It was going to take a bit of work to get a clean fit.  I cleaned out the shank and then coated the tenon on the shank extension with all-purpose glue and then turned it into the shank. I wiped off the excess glue and set it aside to cure. Once the glue cured I cleaned out the inside of the shank extension with alcohol and cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It was smooth and clean.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar really took on a shine by the final pads.    I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain and the separate finishes really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for 10-15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl really looks good at this point. I set it aside and worked on the stem.    I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. It was time to work on the broken off part of the button. I put a piece of clear packing tape on a piece of cardboard. I opened two capsules of charcoal powder and mixed it with some Locktite 380 Black CA glue. I mixed them together with a dental pick and a spatula.  I coated a folded cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the button. I filled in the damaged area with the mixture of charcoal powder and super glue.

Once the repair cured I flattened it with a rasp and a small file. I cleaned up the repaired areas with 220 sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I sanded the repaired area and the rest of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the button edges.  I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine.   Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a heavier touch with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the combination of rustication and smooth finishes. The black vulcanite stem stands out as a shiny black contrast to the colours of the bowl. This dark stained Comoy’s Marble Arch 78 Apple must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inch. The weight of the pipe is 38grams/1.34oz.  This is one that will go on the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

 

A Facelift and Stem Repair for a Republic Era Peterson’s 311 System Standard


Blog by Steve Laug

The second pipe I have chosen to work on in 2020 is a Republic Era Peterson’s System Standard 311. It was in rough condition when it came to me but it was clear that it was stamped Peterson’s System Standard vertically on the left side of the shank next to the band. The right side of the shank was stamped Made in the Republic of Ireland over the shape number 311. It has some stunning grain around the bowl and shank that can be seen under the thick grime. The bowl had been reamed recently so there were just remnants of cake on the walls that were uneven giving the bowl a pitted appearance. The rim top was cleaned and appeared to have been sanded. There were sanding marks in the briar. The inner and outer edges of the rim had damage. The bowl was out of round and there was some burn damage on the front inner and outer edge. The exterior of the bowl is dirty and has some pits and marks that are a part of its story. The nickel ferrule on the shank end was oxidized and was rough at the opening to the mortise. It is stamped on the left side K&P over three hallmarks. That is followed by Petersons. It is not dented or damaged. The stem was the biggest issue with this pipe. Someone had carved a groove in the top side of the stem in front of the p-lip almost trying to make it a dental bit. The underside of the stem had a tooth mark that had punctured the surface leaving a hole in a tooth crater. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup work on it.   I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top to show the inside of the bowl and the damages on the rim top and edges of the bowl. You can see where someone had taken sand paper to the top and removed the lava and left sanding marks. You can also see the burned areas on the inner and outer front edges of the bowl.  The photos of the stem also clearly show the issues that need to be addressed.   I took photos of the stamping on the left side of the bowl and shank. The vertical stamping on the left side was readable as you can see from the photos. It read Peterson’s System Standard. The stamp on the right side of the shank read Made in the Republic of Ireland with the shape number 311 underneath. The nickel ferrule on the shank end is stamped on the left side K&P over three hallmarks – a Shamrock, a shape that looks like a reclining lion and a tower. Typically these hallmarks are not like those in silver that help to date a pipe but are rather marks that make it clear that the pipe was made in Ireland.  Following the hallmarks it is stamped Petersons.   I am including some information from Pipedia’s article on Peterson pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson). I have included a bit of the pertinent history on the Republic Era below.

1950 – 1989 The Republic Era  – From 1950 to the present time, the stamp for this era is “Made in the Republic of Ireland” in a block format generally in three lines but two lines have been used with or without Republic being abbreviated.

Pipedia also included a section of information on the System pipes including a cutaway diagram of the interior of the system pipe (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson#Republic_Era_Pipes). I quote a section of the article in part and include a link to another article on Pipedia on the System pipe.

The Peterson System pipes are the standard bearers of the Peterson pipe family, famous for the excellent smoking pleasure they provide. Often imitated but never equaled, the Peterson System smokes dry, cool and sweet, thanks to the scientific effectiveness of the original design. The heart of the System is the unique graduated bore in the mouthpiece. This makes the suction applied by the smoker 15 times weaker by the time it reaches the tobacco chamber. The result is that all the moisture flows into the reservoir and, thus cannot reach the smoker’s mouth. The Peterson Lip further enhances the effectiveness of the graduated bore by directing the flow of smoke upwards and away from the tongue. This achieves a uniquely even distribution of smoke and virtually eliminates any chance of tongue bite or bitterness. Furthermore, the shape is contoured so that the tongue rests comfortably in the depression under the opening. Each “PLip” mouthpiece is made from Vulcanite. For the Peterson System pipes to work properly, the stem/tenon has to have an extension, the tip of which will pass by the draft hole from the bowl and into the sump. Upon the smoker drawing in smoke, this extension then directs the smoke down and around the sump to dispense a lot of the moisture before the smoke enters the extension and stem. On the System Standards and other less expensive systems, this extension with be made of Vulcanite turned integrally with the stem. On the more expensive System pipes this extension will be made of metal which screws into the Vulcanite stem. This extension on the earlier pipes will be of brass and the newer pipes will be of aluminium. Most smokers not knowing this function of the metal extension, assumes that it is a condenser/stinger and will remove it as they do with the metal condensers of Kaywoodie, etc. Should you have a System pipe with this metal extension, do not remove it for it will make the System function properly and give you a dryer smoke (https://pipedia.org/wiki/A_closer_look_at_the_famous_Peterson_Standard_System_Pipe).

With that information in hand I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping and the age of this pipe. I knew from the information that the pipe was made during the Republic Era between 1950 and 1989. It was an antique mall find so I was happy with the age and condition. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

This is one that I have to do the cleanup work on and not have Jeff’s help. Doing the work I am really glad that Jeff is willing to take on cleaning the pipes that we purchase as estates of hunting finds – but enough of that. I have to clean this one! The pipe appeared to have been reamed somewhat recently in its life. However there was some pitting in the cake on the walls of the pipe so I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I decided to start the process by dealing with the damage to the inner edge and top of the rim. I wiped it down with alcohol on a cotton pad and filled in the damaged edge and rim top with clear Krazy Glue. Once the repair cured I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the repair on the rim top and to give the inner edge a very light bevel. Between the repair and the bevel it took care of the damage on the inner edge. The third photo shows the rim top after the shaping. I polished the entire bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. The bowl began to take on a finished shine. (I carefully avoided the stamping in the process of polishing the bowl and shank.) I rubbed the bowl and rim 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 to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The stem was a mess of issues. The first ones that I decided to address were the deep groove on the top side and the bite through on the underside. In preparation for the repair I cleaned out the airway in the stem with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline Petroleum Jelly and slid it in the airway from the button end. I had bent it before putting it in the stem so that it would fit tightly against the bite through. I gathered the components of the repair together. I put a piece of packing tape on a cardboard square that I use for mixing a putty mixture of charcoal powder and black super glue. The tape buys me more time to mix up the putty without it reacting to the cardboard. I took out two charcoal capsules, the super glue and a dental spatula. Now I was ready to do the patching.I mixed the putty with the dental spatula and when I had a thick mixture I applied it to the stem surface with the spatula. I pressed it into the trough on the top side and the bite through on the underside. I don’t worry to much about a clean patch at this point I really want to make sure it is covered. Once it cures I can reshape it with a file and sandpaper.I sprayed the repair with an accelerator that hardens the surface of the repair and allows me to pull the pipe cleaner from the airway. I took photos of the repair at this point in the process. It is truly ugly but it has accomplished what I wanted. The groove and bite through were gone. Now all that was left was a lot of shaping and sanding. Oh, by the way I always blow air through the stem to make sure that I have not sealed it with the repair!!  I set the stem aside for the evening and enjoyed some time with the family.In the morning I tackled shaping the stem. I use a needle file and a rasp to take down the excess and to shape the button edge on the stem. It is tedious work that requires patience that Paresh in India has far more of than me but I finished the rough shape with the files.  Once I had the rough shape done I continued to use a combination of the needle file and 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess material of the repair and shape the stem surface. The photos show the progress in the process. The shape is beginning to show clearly! The trough on the top side is gone and the bit mark on the underside it also repaired.I continued to shape the stem with the 220 and 400 grit sandpaper. I had to fill in some air pockets in the repair with clear Krazy Glue and I built up the curve of the button on the top and the ledge on the backside.    When I got the stem to the point I was happy with the repair and shape it was time to begin polishing it. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. It does a pretty good job polishing the stem.   I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a coat of a new product I am experimenting with from Briarville Pipe Repair. It is called “No Oxy Oil” and it is made to protect the stem from oxidizing. I set it aside to dry. I am excited to be on the homestretch with this old Republic Era Peterson System Standard. I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain is quite stunning and really pops with the wax and polish. The repaired black vulcanite stem actually looks quite nice and is a great contrast to the browns of the bowl and thick shank. This Peterson’s System Standard 311 Bent Billiard was another fun pipe to work on even though I did the entire process here. The polished nickel Ferrule works as a contrast between the stem and the briar and binds it all together. It really is a nice piece of briar whose nicks and marks testify to the travels of this old pipe. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This old pipe will be going back to a fellow referred to me by City Cigar in Vancouver. Even though I am not adding new work at the moment I have a commitment with them that I will repair pipes for their customers. 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.

Another Wedding Trip Pick: A 1961 DUNHILL EK Shell Briar Made in England 1 4S


Blog by Dal Stanton

Unbelievably, I found this classic Dunhill EK Shell Briar at Madeline’s Antiques & Uniques during the trip for our daughter’s wedding in the US last November. Madeline’s was one of those picker paradises waiting on the I 24 Exit near Manchester, TN, that thankfully, we did not drive past! I had pleasure restoring and gifting our youngest son on Christmas in Denver, the Aged Imported Briar Poker (Red Dot) pictured below on the bottom (See: Link) and the restored Poker’s picture following. Now, shift two pipes above the Poker in the picture below, and you’ll see the Dunhill EK Shell Briar that now has my attention after rescuing him from my ‘Help Me!’ basket here in Sofia, Bulgaria.dal1 dal2At 5 3/4 inches in length, it is a nicely sized square shanked paneled billiard – a very nicely blasted Dunhill Shell pipe.  The stampings are worn but legible on the lower panel of the squared shank.  On the left quadrant, it reads, “Dunhill” over “EK Shell Briar”.  The right reads, “Made In” over “England 1”. Then, to the extreme right on the shank’s edge is 4 ensconced in a circle followed by S.  On the top panel of the squared, tapered stem is embedded the well-known Dunhill white dot – a mark of excellence since 1915.

In 1915, the famous white spot was introduced for very practical concerns. With straight pipes, customers had trouble knowing which way to insert the handmade vulcanite mouthpieces. So, Alfred Dunhill ordered white spots to be placed on the upper side of the stem. This very practical solution would become a definitive trademark of Dunhill pipes. The “white spot” soon became known as a symbol of quality. (Link to Pipedia’s history for Dunhill)

This is my first opportunity to research Dunhill to understand better the heritage of the pipe on my work table.  There is much information about Dunhill on the internet, which is nidal3ce change.  My impressions of the founder, Alfred Dunhill, are that he was a talented and creative businessman, who understood well that a quality product would create a financial boon along with understanding the ‘needs’ of a market.  Per Pipedia, in 1893, he inherited a harness business at only age 21, but was savvy enough to see the approaching reality of the automobile and he leveraged his company to prepare for it. He started, “Dunhill Motorities” to capitalize on this new industry. His first experiment in pipe making was to accessorize for the ‘new’ and sophisticated needs of those now driving cars which were faster than horse and carriage.  To me, this epitomizes Alfred Dunhill’s approach to business and perhaps, to life as well. With wind in the faces of potential customers, he birthed the idea of marketing a pipe with a windshield! We laugh, but this says something about the man who guided his company through the Great Depression when many pipe manufacturers were closing their door.  Dunhill expanded.  The Pipedia synopsis describes the world-wide growth of Dunhill Pipes and their association with quality – the preferred pipe of the rich and famous and the aristocracy.  This ‘market share’ was due in part to Alfred Dunhill’s practice of giving pipes to the English military officers during WW1.  Altruism or good marketing?  During that time the aristocracy of England was awarded military commissions by birth-right.  Dunhill was a smart businessman, there’s little doubt of this.  I also read that it was Alfred Dunhill who kept Winston Churchill well-supplied in cigars.  Another interesting thing I saw as I did my research was threads and discussions arguing why Dunhill pipes are more expensive than most?  Quality or overrating based upon a name?  This Pipe Magazine thread is one example.

The largest part of my curiosity regarding Dunhill is to understand better the creation of the ‘Sand Blast’ finish, or as it’s called in Dunhill Land, Shell.  In my diminutive time rescuing and restoring pipes, I’ve never had clarity in my mind about the differences between blasted and rustified surfaces – and variations therein.  These distinctions are clear to most enthusiasts in pipe collecting and restoration but I’ve been a bit slow on the uptake!  I’m looking at the Dunhill Shell Briar – my first thought had been that it must have something to do with shells on a sea shore….  This small article was especially helpful from the same Pipedia page:

Shell

A deep craggy sandblast with a black stain finish. Dunhill patented the sandblast finish in England in 1917 (Patent No. 1484/17) and the U.S. in 1920 (Patent No. 1,341,418). See The Art of Sandblasting, by R.D. Field, for in depth look at Dunhill’s revolutionary new finish. The deepest and craggiest finishes were from Algerian briar, which is softer and yields more to the blasting. These are found in circa 1920’s, 1940’s, and 1960’s Shells. The pipes were double blasted until the 1960’s, and then the double blast technique resumed in the 1980’s calling it the “Deep Shell” finish. During the 1960’s and 70’s Dunhill could not acquire the Algerian briar. Consequently, the company’s sandblast pipes were much shallower and less distinct. Once again Dunhill showed itself to be innovative, inventing the “double blast” technique to bring about a deeper blast even with harder briar. The black shell sandblast finish uses a stain the was developed for the color, not the taste. They have a more bitter taste, even when well smoked.

Now I have it.  The knowledge that blasting highlights briar grain by removing softer wood through the process has changed how I now look at the surface of a blasted pipe or with Dunhill, a Shell pipe.  ‘Shell’ reportedly came from observations of the earliest experiments with sand blasting briar shapes – they were shriveled and looked like a ‘shell’ – that is, a shadow of their former states.  Even with the limited number of restorations I’ve done to date, it is obvious that I thoroughly love and enjoy working on smooth briars, simply for the challenge and delight of witnessing the beauty of briar grain appear.  Now, I study the Dunhill EK Shell Briar with a new appreciation for a different perspective on the same beautiful grains but revealed via blasting.  So much for my reflections!  Here are pictures of the Dunhill I’ve been reflecting upon!dal4 dal5 dal6 dal7 dal8 dal9Before I begin the restoration work, one last tick on the research list – the nomenclature.  The two pictures above show the markings on the lower shank panel.  I admit, when I first started trying to make sense of the plethora of information on Dunhill dating, it was daunting and a bit confusing, but as I looked at R.D. Fields’ A Dunhill Pipe Dating Guide published in Pipedia, Pipephil’s unbelievable charts, and tooling through all the examples of Dunhill nomenclature exemplified year-by-year, and also Pipephil’s, Dunhill Dating Key – pieces started coming together.  Reborn Pipe’s reposting of Eric Boehm’s Dunhill Shapes Collated was helpful as well.  When I first looked at the pictures above, I had missed the ‘E’ of the EK Shell Briar which is barely legible due to the wear next to the heel of the stummel.  Boehm’s information about ‘EK’ shape was: “Quaint Shape” Hexagonal panel billiard, square shank, angled tapered bit “Stand-up” 1928.  The EK Hexagonal panel is interesting in that a hexagon has 6 sides.  Over the years, this shape may have added more angled variety.  This EK is either squared if you only count the 4 major panels, but it is possible when including the tapered, smaller panels creating the corners, 8 panels are encircling this stummel.  The Pipephil Dunhill Shape Code chart calls the EK a square panel and provides an example of an EK 1958.  The markings are:

EK = Square Panel (shape letters)

4 (in circle) = Bowl Size

S – material: Shell or sand blasted

The dating of this pipe is 1961, based upon the suffix number ‘1’ following ‘England 1’.  Clear? Starting in 1955, Dunhill stopped including the full patent number in the nomenclature.  So, for Dunhills without the patent number, if the number following the ‘England’ is 5-0 (underlined or a subscript) then it would be the year 1950 + X = Year.  So, a Dunhill having ‘England 5’ is from 1955.  With the 1960s the system changed to 1960 being the base starting point with suffix numbers added to ‘England’ that were not underlined or subscripted, but the same size as the D in England.  Are you confused – I was, but it finally became clear.  The dating suffix in the picture above is ‘England 1’ which indicates a dating of 1960 +1 = a 1961 dating!  If I had an ‘England 24’ it would be dated 1984.  I found another EK Shell Briar on this finished eBay listing which was “London 8” – 1968.dal10

Pipe Pages had this example of an Owl Catalogue of 1962 with a picture of the same EK shape in the center but its dating would look like this: “England 2”.  I don’t know if this makes it clearer, but I am thankful for Dunhill dating his pipes!

With a new appreciation for Dunhill, and the EK Shell Briar, Made in England 1, 4S, before me, I hope that I can recommission this pipe for another lifetime and to serve another steward!  The stummel generally looks good – it needs to be cleaned thoroughly – the internals and the blasting.  The cake in the chamber needs to be removed to the briar to allow a fresh start and to examine the chamber wall.  The rim is seriously caked with oils and lava flow and the rim has a small chip on the shank-side panel which will need coloring and blending.  The lower shank panel with the Dunhill nomenclature is already worn – I will clean the area but stay clear of any abrasives.  I thought I detected a crack in at the 4 o’clock mark looking at the shank, but with a closer look, thankfully it is grain and not a crack!  The stem is the challenge.  The oxidation is heavy and needs to be removed.  The button has a bite-through on the lower side that breaches the lip.  The button will need rebuilding and the hole patched.  I remove the stem from the shank and put a pipe cleaner through the airway and plop it in an Oxi-Clean bath to start addressing the heavy oxidation.dal11With the stummel, I take the Pipnet Reaming Kit to address the cake build-up in the chamber. I take another picture of the cake to mark the progress.  For easier clean-up, I always put down a double layer of paper towel to catch the exorcised carbon.  I use the two smallest blades of the 4 available to me to ream the chamber.  Starting with the smallest, then the next larger size.  After this, to fine tune the reaming, I use the Savinelli Pipe Knife by scraping the walls further.  Then, wrapping 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen, I sand the walls to remove the smallest traces of carbon and to bring the chamber again to briar.  I finish by using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% and wipe the chamber to remove the carbon dust. After inspection, the chamber walls show no sign of burning through though I do detect heat fissures that are not serious, but need attention in the last stages of the restoration.  The pictures show the reaming process and inspection questions.dal12 dal13 dal14 dal15Before moving to the external cleaning, I tackle the internals – using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% I clean the inside airway.  The resistance is significant so I take a drill bit, the size of the airway, and ream and scrape it – trying to dislodge the gunk and bring it out.  I continue with cotton swabs and pipe for some time – also utilizing sharp and spaded dental probes to reach and scrape into the mortise.  After some time, the pipe cleaners started returning less soiled.  I’m calling the frontal siege completed, but at the close of the day, I will commence the Trojan Horse attack to further clean the internals with a Salt and Alcohol soak.   The pictures show the progress.dal16Now to the externals.  Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I scrub the rim and blast surface using cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush to get into the crags and crevices.  I also use a brass wire brush on the rim to loosen the crusting.  The brass wire will not harm the briar. dal17Ridding the rim of the lava crust reveals several nicks and bare briar around the rim panels.  I also note that there are several places along the shank/stem junction that have lightened because of wear.  I use furniture repair markers starting with the lightest hue (Maple) and methodically start touching the rim spots as well as around the shank.  When the ‘scarring’ or lightened areas are still evident, I graduate to the next darker brown hue, then a third stick darker still.  Looking for the blending to occur.  As I go, I have a cotton pad lightly dampened with alcohol to wipe the areas gently to create more blending of the dyed areas along the rim and shank.  The first 3 pictures show the problems (forgot to picture the shank!) and the last 3 after using the dye sticks.dal18 dal19 dal20 dal21With the stummel repairs completed, I give the internals more cleaning and freshening.  I put the stummel in the egg carton and fill the bowl with Kosher Salt and twist a cotton ball and stuff it down the mortise, to help draw out the left-over gunk.  I then fill the bowl slowly with isopropyl 95% until it reaches the level of the salt.  I put it stummel aside and let the salt/alcohol soak to do its thing.dal22With the stummel soaking, I fish the stem out of the Oxi-clean bath.  The bath did a good job causing the olive greenish oxidation to rise to the surface.  Using 600 grit paper, I wet sand the stem taking off the raised oxidation.  I follow this with using 0000 steel wool – removing more oxidation and shining and smoothing the vulcanite stem.  I’m careful to avoid sanding over the shoulders of the stem to round off the squared shank.  The pictures show the progress.dal23I turn now to the internal stem airway using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  As hoped, the resistance was little and the pipe cleaners were coming through the airway and emerging clean. dal24With clean internals, what remains is to rebuild the button and patch the bite-through hole from the former stewards clinching.  I create a slot insert using an index card cut to fit and then covered with slick scotch tape – the plastic looking kind.  This will keep the charcoal-superglue putty from sticking to the insert.  The insert serves two purposes.  First, it protects the airway from putty dripping down and plugging things which would add significantly to the work load!  It also provides the form underneath the hole to shape the fill.  I open a capsule of activated charcoal on an index card and I mix it with Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA glue – after I place a puddle of it next to the charcoal.  Gradually, I pull charcoal into the puddle of CA glue using a toothpick until I reach a viscosity of molasses and then strategically I dollop the putty in to the tooth hole and around the button – more than needed so that during the sanding phase there’s enough material to shape the button adequately.  Just as an experiment, I’m putting the putty on a bit wetter than usual and use an accelerator to cure it more rapidly.  I want to see if the result might be fewer air pockets in the patch material.  The pictures show the progress with the button patch and rebuild.dal25 dal26 dal27After a fruitful day at work, I’m anxious to return to the worktable.  The Kosher Salt and alcohol bath has run the course and as expected, the salt has darkened and the cotton stuffed into the mortise has acted as a ‘wick’ drawing out the oils and tars – thank you Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes for the suggestion of using cotton rather than a cork.  It worked well.  After dumping the salt, I wipe the chamber with a paper towel to remove all the residue salt.  I also employ bristle brushes to clean out the mortise to remove all the old used salt.  Then I return to using some cotton swabs and pipe cleaners down the mortise and they came out clean. Job done.  The pictures show the progress.dal28Many of the pipes I’ve been restoring have had significant stem issues – splicing the L J Peretti, and several button rebuilds have come my way.  I like to think I’m getting more practice resulting in better results!  So is the hope.  I take fresh pictures, top and bottom, of the patched area using activated charcoal dust and Special ‘T’ CA glue to mark the progress.  Beginning from the slot-side, I use a sanding drum with the Dremel to remove quickly the large hunk of runover.   Then, using a flat needle file, I work toward bringing the new edge of the button to where the original slot is.  After this is accomplished, I carefully file inside the slot to shape it. Care is given because the lower slot lip in the center, is 100% patch fill from the tooth hole breaching the slot.  The patch material tends to be softer than the vulcanite so the center – lower area of the slot may be soft and give up too much territory as I file.  I gently (and patiently!) use the small circular part of a pointed needle file to shape the inner part of the slot.  It looks good.  Pictures show the progress to establishing the new rough slot.dal29 dal30 dal31Now I establish the upper edge of the shank-side of the button lip.  I do this by eyeballing a logical place to have the lip – maybe giving me a little more lip than needed now – I can always file it down, but can’t file it up! I place a score in the patch bulge with the corner edge of the flat needle then gradually file the score across the button and moving downward toward the original stem surface.  As I file with the flat needle file, I keep the left edge of the file off the stem and lean into the patch area. I don’t want to scar up the stem for no reason!  Pictures show the gradual, patient shaping process with the file.dal32 dal33With the top shape-out completed with the file, I flip the stem and repeat the process on the bottom side.  I follow the button line from the top to the bottom by continuing to score the line around the excess on the stem edges, filing and rounding the button on the left and right.  I use the stem’s lines on the left and right sides, coming from the shank-side to create the line through the left and right side of the button.  At the end, it’s a smooth transition on the sides from the stem’s sides to/though the button’s sides. I picture what I’m attempting to explain in the last picture in this set below.  I’m also careful to uncover gradually the tooth hole patched area in the center bottom.  I expect the patch area to be softer than the vulcanite and I want the patch to blend.  The pictures show the progress on the lower side of the button.dal34 dal35The last two pictures show the completion of the button shaping upper then lower, using 240 grit paper followed by 600 grit paper and 0000 grade steel wool to catch the button repair area with the rest of the stem.  The button rebuild looks great and the hole patch is blending well.dal36 dal37At this point I take a close look at the patch area and I see some air pockets – not many, but some.  That cannot stand for the recommissioning of this 1961 Dunhill.  What comes to your mind when you reflect on 1961?  This is what I see, a ’61 Chevy with this Dunhill along for the ride!  Perhaps I need to acquire one of Alfred Dunhill’s Patent Shield Pipe too!dal38This Dunhill might be a good Birth Year Pipe for someone if I can give it up.  I take regular superglue and make a small puddle and use a toothpick to hole drop glue and paint some areas to fill the air pockets and I follow by spraying the fills with accelerator.  Following this, I sand the fill areas with 600 grit paper and then 0000 grade steel wool.  I declare button repair consummatum est! dal39 dal40 dal41I take the Dremel and finally fabricate a plastic washer to guard against sanding down the shoulders of the stem.  Using the washer with the stummel providing the resistance, I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand using the next set of 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  I follow each set of three with an application of Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  My, this stem and Dunhill White dot are ready for the ’61 Chevy convertible!dal42 dal43I may have created a problem showing the ’61 Chevy paired with a British-born pipe.  So, I suppose this British made ’61 MGA Roadster would do OK in a pinch 🙂dal44With the micromesh phase completed, I turn again to the stummel.  Previously, I applied dye sticks to lightened wear areas to give a fresher look.  I look at the rim a little closer and it still appears crusty and black – lacking the light reddish speckling present in the rest of the stummel.  I lightly sand the rim with the 1500 micromesh pad and then use my pen knife and gently scrape the top.  I only remove the crust on the sand blasted surface.  After scraping, I return to Murphy’s Oil Soap and with a brass brush, scrub the rim again and rinse with tap water.  I’m seeing a better contrast of hues now in the blast textured surface. I then take the darker hue stain stick and randomly paint portions of the rim to add more contrast and interplay and then lightly dab and wipe with a slightly wetted cotton pad with isopropyl 95% to blend.  I want to keep the original color of the EK Shell Briar and the look of a classic 1961 Dunhill.  The pictures show the progress.dal45 dal46Using a cotton cloth wheel, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the stummel.  I set the Dremel speed to 1, the slowest possible.  With the Dremel’s wheel, as small and concise as it is, I can rotate the stummel and guide the wheel so it’s going with grains – maneuvering in the peaks and valley of the Shell moonscape surface.  I don’t overload the wheel with compound and press with too much force downward, but allow the RPMs of the Dremel and the compound to do the work.  After completing the compound application, I hand-buff the stummel with a flannel cloth to remove the loose compound residue before applying the wax.   With the stem and stummel reunited, I give both several coats of carnauba wax.  I use a separate cotton cloth Dremel wheel dedicated to carnauba, I set the speed at 2, with 5 being the fastest setting.  As I did with the Blue Diamond, I utilize the strategic smallness of the Dremel’s wheel as I maneuver to distribute the carnauba wax without gunking up in the Shell textured surface.  Following the wax, I give the Dunhill a brisk hand-buff with a micromesh cloth.

One last need on the check-list before recommissioning this 56-year-old Dunhill.  After this many years of active service, heat fissures had developed in the chamber. I want to coat the chamber with a mixture that helps protect the briar while at the same time provides a temporary foundation for the cake to develop which will provide the long-term protection of the chamber briar.  I have heard, and repeat here, proper cake depth to be maintained is about the thickness of a US dime.  It would have been easier to do this before polishing the stummel, but I forgot until now.  No problem. dal47In the past, I’ve used a coating mixture of activated charcoal dust and sour cream (here on Reborn Pipes) – which works wonderfully and leaves no taste or smell – it is inert.  Since I don’t see any sour cream in the refrigerator, I decide to use the method that Charles Lemon uses which he described here on Dad’s Pipes using maple syrup and activated charcoal as the main ingredients.  Since we do not have maple syrup in Bulgaria (bummer!), Charles assured me after an emailed question, that honey, plentiful in Bulgaria, would serve well as a substitute.  Charles’ directions are straight forward, which I follow:

  1. Insert a pipe cleaner in the stem of the pipe to keep the airway open.
  2. Wipe maple syrup around the inside surfaces of the bowl. Try for a nice even layer.
  3. Pour activated charcoal powder into the bowl right up to the rim.
  4. Allow the pipe to sit for an hour or more. This gives time for a layer of charcoal powder to be absorbed by the syrup.
  5. Dump out the excess charcoal powder, remove the pipe cleaner from the stem.
  6. Now the hard part. LET THE PIPE SIT FOR 5-7 DAYS. The bowl coating will cure smooth and hard.
  7. After curing, your pipe is ready to go!

These pictures show the progress with the final picture a few hours after clearing the excess charcoal.  I will need to let the pipe sit now for 5 to 7 days for the bowl coating to fully cure, which will not be a problem! dal48 dal49 dal50I’m very pleased with the outcome of the stem/button repair.  There is no perceptible indication that there was a hole that breached the lower button lip.  The Shell Briar cleaned up well and shines with a rich, deep, brown/burgandyish textured shade.  When restoration began, I did not realize how I would grow to appreciate the name, “Dunhill” and the pipes bearing this respected name.  The debate will remain regarding Dunhill’s higher pricing – whether one is paying for only a name or for advanced excellence in a pipe.  I suspect that both are true.  After seeing the beauty of this 1961 Dunhill EK Shell Briar emerge, especially as he responded to the carnauba treatment, coupled with the solid feel of the 4-paneled, square billiard bowl, and the strong bearing of the squared shank transitioning into a squared stem that gracefully tapers to the button –  and, all is crowned with Alfred Dunhill’s happenstance white dot mark of excellence – and I agree, I am looking at a quality pipe.  I’m conflicted whether to keep this Dunhill, my first, or to put him up for adoption???  Oh well…. I sell my restorations with a special purpose.  The profits help the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and children sexually exploited and trafficked.  This vintage 1961, Dunhill EK Shell Briar, Made in England 1, is ready to serve a new steward.  If you’re interested in adopting him and helping the Daughters, go to my blog site at The Pipe Steward Store and check it out.  Thanks for joining me!dal51 dal52 dal53 dal54 dal55 dal56