Cleaning up a 1976 Dunhill Bruyere (213)

This was the second Dunhill in the lot I acquired in Toronto. On the picture on the right you can see it is similar in size to a Group 1, the Shell Briar at the bottom is my Father’s Group 4 for comparison.

In 1976 a 3-digit system (“Interim”) was developed that showed a logical approach to identify pipes in terms of size & mouthpiece (this was soon to be replaced). Conveniently this pipe is stamped in the exact year that this interim system was developed. The pipe was stamped DUNHILL BRUYERE, (213), MADE IN ENGLAND16. The dating code for pipes from this era was used from 1955 – 1994. From 1970-1994 the date code was determined by adding the double suffix number to the year 1960. In this case the double suffix number is 16, therefore 1960 + 16 = 1976, et voilà!

Pipedia Dunhill Dating Guide

First Impressions

This is one filthy pipe. This pipe was well smoked, carbon buildup was moderate in the tobacco chamber but had also deposited itself on the rim as well bonding with the finish. There was some minor tooth chatter on the stem which wasn’t too badly oxidized and could be fixed easily. The red top finish that a Bruyere is known for was gone, it still had a nice luster but it had faded completely. The Bruyere finish is a brown under stain with a red top coat. That can be remedied easily.

Step 1: Ream & Clean

Several passes with a pipe cleaner were returning black, this was a very long process. It was definitely a favoured pipe of our previous smoker. I scrubbed, and scrubbed, and scrubbed the internals with pipe cleaners until the airway was clean. Lastly I applied a salt and alcohol treatment to the tobacco chamber using Kosher Salt and Alcool. Alcool is food grade alcohol and is 95% Alcohol. I live in Ontario where it is available at the LCBO by permit only (BTW you just email them and they will ask you some questions to ensure you’re not making moonshine then give you the permit).

As you can see, after 24 hours, the salt had turned a nice amber brown colour from all the matter it absorbed from the tobacco chamber. Better in the salt than in the bowl! After this step was complete I performed an alcohol retort on the pipe and drew out any remaining tars and nicotine. With the internals in better shape I moved on to the stem.

Step 2: Stem deoxidation and repairs

Once again I turned to Mark Hoover’s Deoxidizer formula. If you read the other two blogs related to this pipe lot you will see I’m recycling the pictures because the stems all took a bath at the same time. After removing all the deoxidizer and oxidation from the stem, I always use mineral oil to rejuvenate and protect the stem from re-oxidizing. Once the oil has penetrated the vulcanite and dried I wipe it down and begin any necessary repairs.

I was able to pull all the tooth chatter out of this stem using a flame. I used my butane lighter and pass the flame along the bite zone slowly, heating up the vulcanite. Vulcanite has “muscle memory” I guess you could call it, heating it swells the vulcanite back to its orginal form. In this case, sans bite marks. Sometimes the flame will dull the luster of the stems so you almost inevitably need to sand. I started with 800 Grit and work my way up to 12,000 using micro mesh pads. Below is a before and after comparison.

Move the slider back and forth to reveal the before and after

Step 3: Stummel repairs and refinishing

With the stem work complete, I moved my attention back to the stummel. By now all the alcohol in the pipe has evaporated. Passing the pipe under my nose I do not detect any evidence of ghosting whatsoever. Back to the task at hand. Working on the stummel is my favourite and most rewarding part of this hobby. Restoring the finish on a pipe is so satisfying!

As I pointed out earlier, the rim was heavily caked in carbon buildup. Topping the bowl, I decided, was the best remedy. You don’t want to use a really low grit on this other wise you’re going to have to keep sanding to higher grits to achieve a finish grade. For this I’m just using 800 grit. Moving in circular motions, I sand the rim until remove the finish layer.

Once I’ve removed the carbon buildup and the finish layer, I continue in higher grits but only to 1000. We’re not polishing the rim we just want to prepare it receive a stain again. Next I use a stain marker to match the rim to the brown under stain. These stain markers work remarkably well and are perfect for this.

With the rim looking sharp and stained to match the brown under stain, its time to restore the red top stain that the Bruyere finish is known for. For this I turn to Fiebings Dark Red Leather Dye. I use a pipe cleaner to apply the stain to the whole stummel then let it sit for 24 hours. Yeah you can get fancy and Flambé if you like but it also works to just let it rest and absorb the pigment.

Once set, I unwrap the stain using a buffing wheel on my rotary tool and red tripoli to reveal the finished result. This process both unwraps the stain and buffs at the same time. After this I will assemble the pipe and buff both the stem and stummel together with red tripoli, then white diamond and lastly carnauba wax.

Here is the finished pipe!

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