Blog by Steve Laug
Last week I received a call from a fellow pipeman, Keith here in Vancouver who had been referred to me by City Cigar, a local pipe and cigar shop in the city. He was a soft spoken gentleman who had a request for me. In January this year his Dad died and he had three of his Dad’s pipes that he wanted restored in memory of his Dad. He also was a pipe smoker so he fully intended to enjoy them for a long time as he smoked them in his Dad’s honour. I told him to send me some photos of the pipes so I would know what I was dealing with.
I received the email below from Keith that included the photos of the pipes that he wanted me to work on. He even went to the trouble of marking the trouble with each of the pipes that needed work.
Glad your call back today, my name is Keith, I got your contact from City Cigar. My dad has three pipes include two Dr Plumb DINKY and one not sure brand. My dad passed this year January and I looking for fix those pipes which had broken and cracked, understand they are not expensive pipes but for me is priceless memory…
…Have a wonderful day!
I called him as soon as I received the photos and talked over what I saw when I looked them over. We struck a deal and he dropped them off to me late on Friday afternoon and I started to work on them a bit over the weekend. All three pipes needed varying degrees of work on them. Two were Dr. Plumb Dinky Bent Billiards and one was a Real Briar Dublin. I decided to work on them in the order of the photos that he sent me.
The first of them is a Dr. Plum Dinky Bent Billiard. It was probably in the roughest shape in many ways. It had a crack on the back right and middle of the exterior of the bowl. Neither were spread and they both had stopped cracking but they were significant. In the first photo below that Keith sent he noted one of the cracks with the blue arrow. I inserted a second arrow (red) to show the location of the second crack. The second photo below also shows a crack in the shank on the underside as Keith noted with a blue arrow. That photo also clearly shows the crack on the back of the bowl that I have noted with a red arrow. Keith also included a photo of the side view of the pipe and the condition of the stem. The bowl had a thick coat of varnish that would need to be cleaned up before I repaired the cracks. The stem was heavily oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks on both sides just ahead of the button. The Dr. Plumb logo stamp was clear and readable.I took pictures of the pipe when Keith dropped it off before I started my clean up work. He had cleaned the bowl and removed the screen that was visible in the bottom of the bowl in the photos above. It was very clear from the cleaned pipe what needed to be addressed on this first one. The rim top was darkened and had debris in the carved finish.I took a close up photo of the rim to show the condition of the bowl and the rim. You can see the cracks as noted above and shown in the photo below by the arrows. I also took photos of the stem to show the general condition as noted above.I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank – it read Dr. Plumb [over] Dinky and was clear and readable.The next two photos show the cracks (though a bit blurry the cracks are clear). I have circled the three cracked areas that will need to be dealt with and repaired.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe. There is something quite winsome about this tiny pipe.I turned to Pipephil’s site for see what I could find on the brand (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-d8.html). I quote the sidebar below followed by a screen capture of the pertinent section.
Brand created in 1925 by GBD’s Parisian sales manager J.B. Rubinovich. The Dr Plumb production was run by the Ruchon & Verguet and also Ropp factories (Saint-Claude – France). The brand now belongs to the English Cadogan group.I turned to Pipedia and looked up the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Plumb%27s). I have included the additional information below.
The Dr. Plumb’s brand name is owned by A. Oppenheimer & Co., Limited, owners of Cadogan Investments, Ltd.. J.B. Rubinovich, GBD’s Parisian sales manager, created this brand in 1925. The pipes was produced by the Ruchon & Verguet and also Ropp factories (Saint-Claude, France). In 1962 a Dr. Plumb’s pipe sold for between C$3.95 and C$4.95, or $31.72 in 2015 U.S. dollars, and pipes can still be purchased from this brand for a similar price today.
These pipes have long been advertised as Dr. Plumb’s Perfect Pipe, that name coming from an aluminum tube system designed to keep the smoke cool and dry while at the same time permitting the “cooling chamber” to be cleaned by simply twisting the stem. While Dr. Plumb’s pipes were long made in France and stamped accordingly, they are now British made.
None of the sites included information on the Dinky line. I knew who made the pipe and where it was made but not anything about the tiny little pipes in this estate. Now it was time to work on the pipes. I removed all of the stems and dropped them in a bath of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. I put the lid on the box and let them sit for 24 hours.I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to cut the shiny varnish coat. It took a lot of scrubbing and I was able to greatly reduce it but not remove it. With the bowl cleaned up it was time to address the cracks in the bowl and shank. I pressed some briar dust into the cracks on the back of the bowl and filled them in with clear CA glue. I did the same with the crack on the underside of the shank. I repeated the process until the repair was finished. I found the proper sized brass band for the shank end and dribbled some CA around the shank end and pressed the band in place on the shank.I filled in some of the spots that remained on the crack on the back of the bowl and then used a brass bristle brush to score the repairs to match the surrounding rustication. I also worked over the rim top at the same time with the brush. The repairs on the bowl are a little darker than the rest of the bowl but the repairs are solid. It dawned on me at this point that I had not cleaned the shank. I scrubbed it with 99% isopropyl alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. It was quite dirty so I am glad I remembered.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I removed it from the deoxidizer bath and it did not really look much better. I scrubbed it down with Soft Scrub and a cotton pad. I found that the oxidation was significantly softer and came off quite easily.I scrubbed out the airway in the pipe with alcohol and pipe cleaners until it was clean. It was a well used pipe.I still needed to polish the stem with micromesh and buff the pipe but I had to put the stem on and have a look at the pipe. I took some photos so you could see what I see. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. With the bowl and the stem finished I put the tiny GBD Made Dr. Plumb Dinky Bent Billiard back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel. 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 really is a great looking pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 4 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ inch. The weight of this small pipe is .85 ounces /24 grams. This small Dr. Plumb Dinky is a great reminder for Keith of his Dad’s Pipe smoking and one that he can enjoy for a long time. Once I finish the other two pipes I am sure he will be excited to load them with a memorable tobacco and slip back into the memories of his Dad. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.