Blog by Steve Laug
Around Christmas time I got together with Alex to enjoy some great hot cocoa, smoke our pipes and talk about all things pipes. I always have a great time when we get together and this time was no exception. He greeted me at the door with slippers and an old smoking jacket. I took my seat in the living room among his latest pipe finds and was handed a great cup of cocoa. I set it down and we both loaded out pipes with some new Perretti’s tobacco that he had picked up. We touched the flame of the lighter to the tobacco and sat back and blissfully enjoyed the flavour. As we did Alex walked me through his latest finds. There were some amazing pipes to look at and savor. He had found several really nice pipes – 3 different Dunhill pipes that he wanted me to work on for him. I have already written a blog on the Dunhill Wanghee Tan Shell Briar with a Bamboo shank (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/08/refreshing-a-dunhill-tanshell-w60-t-1962bamboo-lovat-for-alex/). I have also written a blot on the reconstruction of a nice little Shell Briar Lovat(https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/11/breathing-life-into-a-worn-and-beat-up-dunhill-shell-briar-ec-canadian-for-alex/). The third Dunhill he had picked up is a shape number I could find little information on – a shape 708F/T Root Briar. For lack of a better title for the shape I have called it a canted stack.
Alex had reamed the pipe and cleaned the pipe very well. The bowl was clean. The rim top had a lot of damage including burn marks and dents. The bowl was also very far out of round with damage around inner edge. There were burn marks on the inner and outer edge toward the right front side of the bowl. The finish looked very good around the bowl other than the burn mark on the left side where it looked like the bowl had been laid in an ash tray against a hot ash. He had already enjoyed smoking it and was hooked on it. He asked if I could take it home with me and see what I could do about the rim top damage and the burn mark on the bowl. I told him I would take it home and have a go at it. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with the following nomenclature: 708F/T at the bowl shank junction followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. The Dunhill Root Briar stamp is faint but readable with a lens and light. The right side reads Made in England followed by what looks like a 2 (another 1962?) and a Circle 4 A. The 4 is the size of the pipe and the A is the designation for Root Briar. The stamping on the right side of the shank is also faint.
When I got home I laid it aside and today took it up to work on it. I examined the pipe to see what I was working with and took some photos. You can see from the first photo below that there was a burn mark on the left side mid bowl. It was a cosmetic burn marks in the finish but not too deep. It was like the pipe had been laid down in an ashtray. The rim top had significant darkening and damage. The stem was in good condition other than tooth chatter on both sides just ahead of and on the top of the button. Overall the pipe was in good condition. I took a close up photo of the rim top. You can see the darkening on the rim top and the damage on the front inner and outer edge of the bowl. The inner edge was hacked up like it had been poorly reamed with a pocket knife. There were also nicks and deep scratches in the rim top. It was in rough shape. The stem looked pretty good. There was tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem and on the button surface itself. Otherwise the stem was in very good condition.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl. You can see that it reads as noted above. It is indeed faint but with a lens and light it is very readable.I decided to start the refurbishing by addressing the issues with the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. Once it was smooth I worked on the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I also cleaned up the burned outer edge on the rim front. I sanded the burn mark on the left side of the bowl with the 220 grit sandpaper and was able to minimize the burn a bit. It was deeper than I initially thought. I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris left behind by the sanding. I used a Maple Stain Pen to blend the sanded area on the side of the bowl and the rim top with the rest of the finish on the bowl. I have found that this particular stain pen works well to match the stain on the Root Briar.With the finish cleaned I rubbed it down with Before and After Restoration Balm. It is a product developed by Mark Hoover to clean, enliven and protect briar. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. I let it sit while I went and had some lunch. When I came back I buffed it off with a cotton cloth. You can see the results below. While the burn mark did not disappear it is significantly lighter than when I started. The rim top also looks much better. I set the bowl aside and turned to address the tooth chatter on the stem surface. The stem was in excellent condition other than that so it did not take a lot of work. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the tooth marks and then started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper.I polished it further with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red paste that does a great job in removing the oxidation remnants in the crease of the button and also polish out some of the lighter tooth chatter.I finished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I polished it with Before and After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping the stem down with some No Oxy Oil that I received from Briarville Pipe Repair to experiment with. Once I finished I put the stem back on the shank and carefully buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond polish. I wanted to polish out the minute scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished Root Briar pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great pipe and certainly looks better than when I began the process. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outer Bowl Diameter: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ of an inch. The pipe will soon be heading back to Alex so he can continue to enjoy it. This is a beauty that he can enjoy as he carries on the trust of these Dunhill pipes. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.