Reconditioning a 1978 Brigham 129 (1 Dot)

This pipe came to me from a pipe lot acquired in Toronto. I was able to piece together who I think the smoker was based on the items within the lot. From what I could determine he used to be a Doctor, there were other items with the lot that pointed to physician. He was definitely a former cigarette smoker because there were old Cigarettes in the lot. This chap enjoyed cigarettes, pipes and cigars from what I can surmise. Unfortunately, the pipes in the lot were in a state of neglect when I acquired them. There seemed to be a lot of pipe smokers who just filled their pipe, smoked it, let it rest then repeated the same process over and over until they needed a new pipe. But if it wasn’t for their lack of pipe care regimen, I wouldn’t have this wonderful hobby!

The pipe is a 1978 Brigham, shape 129 (1 Dot). You can find additional information about Brigham —>Here. Overall first assessment revealed there wasn’t any significant issues with the pipe, it just needed a good cleaning and a little stem work.

Step1: Ream & Clean the Stummel

This pipe had a pretty modest amount of cake buildup and I was able to ream the bowl back to briar pretty quickly. Next I used a salt and alcohol treatment to recondition the tobacco chamber.

I use a combination of methods when I clean a pipe. I ream the pipe of old cake, and sand the tobacco chamber to further remove any carbon buildup. I will then use an alcohol soak in either kosher salt or a cotton ball which appears to draw out unwanted matter such as tars or nicotine. Next, to get the stummel really clean, I will use an alcohol retort. Lastly, pipe cleaners, pipe cleaners, and more pipe cleaners. I will scrub the draught hole and mortise until the pipe cleaners are free of heavy tar and carbon. A slight tint to the pipe cleaner passing through is acceptable.

Step 2: Deoxidize & Clean the Stem.

There are a variety of ways to remove the oxidation on a stem, whichever method you choose to use, sweat equity will be a key ingredient in removing the oxidation. But there are products to make it easier. One such product is Mark Hoover’s Deoxidizer for hard rubber, you can purchase Mark’s product at La Belle Epoque Vintage & Modern Fountain Pens. Once I familiarized myself with how it worked, it was quite helpful. In this restoration I used Mark’s product. I soak the stems overnight as it just aligns with the timing of my hobby hours. I use cotton swabs to wipe the product off into the container then use paper towels to scrub the oxidation and remaining product off of the stem. You’re going to need to clean out the draught hole on the stem as well to get all the goop out. Lastly I rub the entire stem with mineral oil using a microfiber cloth and pass a pipe cleaner dipped in the oil through the stem as well. I just let it sit afterwards.  **Note: I wrap the aluminum Brigham Tenon in electrical tape. The deoxidizer has a reaction with the aluminum and causes a slight calcification on it. You can remove the calcification with steel wool, but you could end up with a loose fitting Tenon by doing so.**

Step 3: Scrub the exterior of the stummel

The pipe had a buildup of carbon around the rim which filled in some of the craggily rustication on the rim. I used a wire brush to scrub it off and preserve the rustication. You can also use 0000 Steel Wool to achieve the same result. If you are using a wire brush, I would not recommend using a brass brush. They are softer bristles, you likely will end up transferring metal from the bristles to the stummel and end up with a metallic sheen on some parts, which you then have to remove. Lastly I like to use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on the outside of the stummel. I just dip a toothbrush in the soap and scrub the stummel to remove dirt and grime.

Step 4: Stem restoration

With the stem deoxidized I moved on to reconditioning the stem. There was some tooth chatter that I was able to correct using flame from a lighter. However; there were a few spots that I couldn’t lift out with heat. When that happens, for vulcanite stems, I like to use Bob Smith Industries IC-2000 CA Glue.  It is infused with Carbon and Rubber and matches the stem perfectly for me.

I missed taking pictures of a few steps, but once the CA Glue has dried, you can file it down with a small hand file. Once I have filed down the patch to bring it within the profile of the rest of the stem I sanded the bite area with various grits. I will start with 800 if I’m fortunate enough to not make any deep scratches. After that I turn to micro mesh pads and sand from 1500-12,000, lastly the stem is buffed with using my rotary tool and some buffing bits.

I reassembled the stummel and stem, buffed and polished the whole pipe with carnauba wax. Here’s the finished pipe.

This pipe is will be available at the LuntingBear Pipe Store **COMING SOON**


  1. Great way to launch the site, Ryan! Looking forward to many more posts. 🙂


    1. Thanks so much Charles!


  2. Levi Blisset says:

    I was unsure if I could write such a lengthy article at the beginning. Your style captivated my interest. Your writing is always top-quality. Great Article Neil. It was excellent I went through it, but did not leave any feedback. However, I think the article was informative enough to merit a thank you. I’ll be applying some of these tips soon to my websites.


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