New wings for a pair of Falcon Pipes

One look at a Falcon pipe and you are transported back in time to the mid-century modern period of design that was characterized by a contemporary, seemingly futuristic aesthetic and an emphasis on function.

“The Mid-century Modern design movement spanned from about 1933 to 1965 and included architecture as well as industrial, interior, and graphic design.”

Architectural Digest

At the stepping off point of this movement, American engineer Kenly C. Bugg invented an alternative tobacco pipe in 1936 combining metal and briar. Kenly Bugg later patented his pipe invention in 1945. The Falcon pipe is a metal pipe with a threaded dish at the end of a metal shank. The pipe has interchangeable Briar bowls of different shapes and finishes that thread into the metal dish of the pipe.

Kenly Bugg claimed that the Falcon Pipe provided the pipe smoker a cooler, dryer smoke. The briar bowls could be cleaned like any other briar pipe, while the metal stem and could be cleaned easily with a pipe cleaner. In fact you could wash it with soap and water if you wanted to.

Falcon Pipes were produced in the United States until the 1960’s, after which production was moved to England.

First Impressions

The first Falcon Pipe is the original design, with a bent stem, and marked “Made in England” which tells me that it was made after 1960’s. There are a couple of dents on the tube that runs down the centre of the stem, probably from getting knocked around all these years. The mouthpiece is made of nylon.

The second Falcon had a more traditional straight body, still had the versatility of the falcon system but the stem could also accommodate a 6mm filter. The metal pipe has a wrap that gives it the brown colour. The wrap had nicks and abrasions that are not going to be corrected without sanding away the coating. The nomenclature was also unreadable, it took me some time to find the “Falcon International” logo to determine that’s what it used to say. The mouthpiece is also made of nylon.

Both of the briar bowls were heavily smoked and had a heavy layer of carbon buildup. The finish of each bowl were worn off and covered with dirt and carbon buildup as well. The base of the briar bowls both had cracks in the bottom. The cracks did not breach the tobacco chamber but would need to be addressed.

Step 1: Carbon Buildup Removal

My pipe reamer set made short work of the carbon buildup located in the upper half of both bowls. I used 100 grit sandpaper to remove the buildup at the bottom portion of the bowl.

Step 2: Clean, Clean, Clean

I used some Murphy’s Oil Soap to scrub the briar bowls, then set them aside to dry while I worked on the stems and mouth pieces of the two Falcons.

The “Falcon international” mouthpiece removed quite easily. The body of the pipe was full of solids. The stem of the standard Falcon was completely clogged, I was unable to pass a pipe cleaner through it. I was able to get them both cleaned out using a combination of alcohol and soapy water.

Both mouthpieces were completely clogged. I soaked them in alcohol to loosen the solids in the stems, and used hot soapy water and a dental tool to pull the grime out of the mouthpieces. In the end I was able to get them completely clean.

I used steel wool to ream the metal bowls of the stems, then used more alcohol to clean the stems, and mouthpieces to an acceptable standard.

Step 3: Repairs

Both briar bowls had cracks in the base of the bowls. Oddly they didn’t breach the walls of the pipe at all. I filled the cracks with an adhesive product called “Chair Doctor” using a syringe. It will soak into the end grain of wood, swell the wood and then freeze the wood in the swollen state as it cures. A film of dry glue lines the wood cells, preventing contraction. It dries clear and is easy to sand and also heat resistant.

Step 4: Refinishing

Both bowls needed to be refinished. I sanded the old finish off both bowls but left the rustication alone on the one. I used Fiebings Light Brown leather dye to restore the colour to both bowls. Afterwards I applied a light coating of mineral oil to help set the stain in the bowls. The mineral oil deepened the colour of the stain including the original stain on the rusticated portion of the one bowl.

Step 5: Stem & Mouthpiece restoration

I began polishing the standard Falcon stem with 0000 Steel wool which worked really well to remove scratches in the metal and get it ready for further polishing. Next I used my microfibre pads and sanded the stem from 1500 – 12000 grit. Lastly I used my rotary tool and a buffing wheel to polish the stem with white diamond. The stem was like chrome when I finished, it looks amazing.

The Falcon logo on the one mouthpiece was discoloured, and despite my best efforts to scrub it white, I was unsuccessful. I decided to use one of my dental tools to remove it. I then used an oil paint pen to fill in the logo again. Once that dried I sanded both nylon mouthpieces with microfibre pads then polished them with white diamond.

Step 6: Final buffing and polishing

I buffed the briar bowls with white diamond, then buffed and polished the bowls and mouthpieces with Carnauba wax. Lastly, both bowls received a waterglass bowl coating (forgot to take pictures) using activated charcoal, white pumice and sodium silicate (waterglass). This will provide a heat shield for the briar and extend the life of the bowls.

The Reveal

Thanks for reading. These two Falcons are ready to fly again! You can purchase the pair of Falcons at the Lunting Bear Store!

Restoring a Jobey Stromboli E37

This pipe was acquired from a Goodwill auction along with several other pipes and a pipe stand. Unfortunately I don’t know who the original owner of this pipe was. Often when I’m on a pipe hunt, I’m hopeful that I not only find some interesting pieces to restore, but that I may be imparted with some information about the previous smoker.

The nomenclature on the pipe reads Jobey Stomboli E37. Jobey was an American pipe manufacturer, the ownership of which changed hands throughout the years and sometimes made under the banner of another brand. I turned to pipedia to see what I can glean about Jobey. From what I could find.

“the first mention of Jobey seems to be back in 1915, when two brothers named Ulysses and Louis Jobey of Brooklyn, New York obtained a patent for an odd sort of cavalierish pipe in 1915” (Source; Pipedia).

pipedia

Pipedia also refers to the patent for the “Jobey Link” in 1970. The Jobey link is an alternative pipe tenon. The mortise of the pipe is threaded along with one end of the tenon itself. The tenon is threaded into the pipe, the remaining end is smooth and acts like a push-tenon to connect the stem. The stem is simply held in place by friction. This is pretty well a reverse of how most pipes are made. At least in my opinion. Here is a picture of the patent for the Jobey tenon.

Jobey Link | rebornpipes

First Impressions

The pipe was in sound condition. There was no evidence of cracks in the shank or breaches of the airway in the stem due to harsh clenching. The finish is a very craggily deep rustication on both the rim and the body of the stummel. You can see dust or dirt had collected in these craggily areas and the finish was dull. The Jobey link was seized in the stem, fortunately it threaded out of the stummel quite easily. The stem is a acrylic, the airway was heavily soiled from smoking and was a visible brown right through the stem.

Step 1: Remove Carbon buildup

The tobacco chamber on this pipe was quite large. I was able to insert the 3rd largest reamer bit to remove the carbon buildup in the chamber. As always I will ream the pipe right back to the briar if I can. The purpose of which is so I can assess the condition of the tobacco chamber and determine if there any heat fissures or cracks in the bowl.

After I finished removing the carbon buildup from the tobacco chamber I used some steel wool and a wire brush (steel) to remove the carbon buildup on the rim of the pipe and within the rusticated finish. A brass brush is much softer that the steel brush, however; in my experience, you will discover that the brass will leave a metal sheen on the pipe as some of the brass will transfer right onto the pipe itself creating more work. Here’s the before and after:

Step 2: Clean & Deoderize

With the carbon buildup removed, it was time to clean and deoderize the internals of the airway of the stummel and clean the airway in the stem. I use a combination of nylon brushes, bristled pipe cleaners, regular pipe cleaners and a retort system.

First, I scrubbed and cleaned the stem until I was able to remove all of the brown buildup in the airway.

I used cotton batting soaked with alcohol to deodorize any lingering aromas or flavours left behind in the pipe.

Step 3: Refinishing

I used a combination of Feibings Dark Brown leather dye to restore the brown finish on the smooth accent on the shank as wells as the smooth bottom where the nomenclature is located. I touched up the rim and any peaks in the rustication with a Wood Furniture Repair Marker in the Espresso colour. These stain markers are one of the most useful tools for matching stains when refinishing pipes. You can buy these usually in a pack of 6 at most Hardware stores.

Step 4: Stem Polishing

I used my micro fibre pads to restore the finish on the acrylic stem. I don’t often work with acrylic as most of the pipes that come my way usually have Vulcanite stems. I find acrylic very forgiving to work with when you reach the polishing stage. I was able to start at 1500 grit and work my way up quite quickly. I was able to achieve an excellent finish on the stem, I don’t think I even needed to buff it, but I will anyway for the sake of process.

Before moving to the buffing stage for this pipe, I replaced the Jobey link back into the shank of the pipe. It threaded back in quite easily and I was able to push and pull the stem from pipe as originally intended. The stem seated firmly on the push tenon firmly.

Step 5: Buffing and Polishing

I used a buffing wheel on my rotary tool to buff and polish the whole pipe. I start with Red Tripoli, then White Diamond and finally Carnauba Wax. Here is the finished pipe.

This pipe is available at the Lunting Bear Store BUY IT NOW for $60 plus shipping!

A deep clean of a Peterson Dunmore

“The Dunmore is one series we just don’t see a whole lot of anymore. They’re still fairly recognizable, however, as each edition features a minimalist presentation with the only accents being some ornate carving at the end of the shank. They’re also notable for the non-traditional shape numbers they’re usually stamped with.” source SmokingPipes.com.

First Impressions

I would describe this pipe as a standard sized straight apple. The pipe is just over 7 inches long, with a “P Lip” stem. The pipe is stamped “Peterson’s Dunmore”, “Made in the Republic of Ireland”, Shape 87.

Judging by the condition of the pipe, I’m going to conclude that this was either the previous stewards favourite pipe or their workhorse pipe. The tobacco chamber was heavily caked with carbon buildup, I hazard a guess that they could barely fit a pinch of tobacco in the chamber. The oxidation on the stem was calcified to the surface of the vulcanite stem. Structurally the pipe was in good shape, there were no cracks or major flaws that needed repair. The pipe just needed a very thorough cleaning and reconditioning.

Step 1: Carbon buildup removal

There was considerable buildup in the tobacco chamber and caked to the rim as well. I used both my castleford reaming set and a senior reamer to get through the carbon buildup and back to briar.

I used some steel wool to remove the carbon buildup on the rim. I was expecting to see some charring on the rim, there was none surprisingly. The carbon in the chamber and rim seemed to preserve briar beneath. There’s a couple of nicks on the rim but nothing of major concern.

Step 2: Recondition the airway and mortise

Mortise and airway tar buildup

At first glance, when I looked down the mortise to the airway, I thought to myself. “How the heck did this smoker manage to deform the airway in such a way”. I thought the black matter I was looking at WAS the beginning of the airway at the end of the mortise. I was wrong! What you’re seeing in the before picture is a buildup of matter that accumulated on the walls of the mortise chamber itself (tars, nicotine, moisture etc).

To digress for a moment, the Peterson Patented system involves an alternative method of drilling the stummel of the pipe. It involves drilling a void within the pipe between the mortise and the tobacco chamber. This void, or “sump”, is there to collect the moisture created by the smoker and it naturally deposits itself in that sump. Well if you don’t ever clean out that sump, that deposited matter just builds upon itself until you have the buildup seen in this pipe.

I used a drill bit the same diameter of the mortise and turned the drill bit by hand to remove the material in the sump. In the image above you can see all the gunk that came out of the sump at the end of the drill bit in the bowl. I reamed the mortise all the way to the airway, with one last turn I refaced the beginning of the airway, thus concluding the bulk of the dirty work for this pipe.

Step 3: Clean the internals of the stem and stummel

Before I started the alcohol cleansing process, I used some steel wool to remove the calcification off the stem. Afterwards I used a combination of pipe cleaners and nylon brushes to scrub and clean the internals of both the stem and stummel. The stem is still destined for a deoxidizing soak but I wanted to ensure it was clean before putting it in the deoxidizer. I figure this way the deoxidizer doesn’t have to work too hard and it will remove the oxidation on the stem much more efficiently.

Once I’m satisfied that the internals are clean, I will work on removing any ghosting or remnants of the previous smokers tobacco choices. Some tobaccos like Aromatics and other stronger tobaccos will “ghost” the bowl resulting in masking the flavour of other tabacco smoked in the bowl. This process helps to eliminate that.

Lastly after the cotton batting and alcohol have done their job I perform an alcohol retort on the stummel. I find this removes any stubborn tars and nicotine that may remain as well as cleaning all the previous steps away.

Step 4: Stem deoxidation

I used the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer from lbepen.com to remove the oxidation from the stem. I was pleased that I made the effort to remove the calcification before this step as the stem came out exactly as I wanted.

Step 5: Stem Repairs

I really like to use this Carbon and Rubber toughened CA Glue by Bob Smith Industries. It blends in with the vulcanite stem quite well and becomes almost invisible once you reach the polishing stages. I’m pretty sure the tooth chatter on the underside of the bite area would qualify as dental records. You can see in the middle photo at the bottom has 4 well spaced tooth indents left behind from clenching the pipe in the smokers teeth.

Typically I use a product called Rub N Buff to restore the stamped nomenclature on the stems. Mine had dried out, so I bought this oil paint marker from Michaels. I filled in the impression on the stem then used a pad and rubbed off the excess with mineral oil.

Step 6: Refinishing

I used Fiebing’s Light Brown leather dye to refinish the stummel. Once the stain had set, I unwrapped the pipe with a buffing bit on my rotary tool using red tripoli.

Step 7: Bowl Coating

When a pipe has been smoked as heavily as this one, I felt that the pipe would need a protective barrier to preserve the briar. Not every pipe smoker prefers to have cake buildup in their bowl. This would ensure some protection from the heat produced when smoking and hopefully extend the life of this pipe for years to come.

I applied a waterglass bowl coating to the inside of the tobacco chamber using a small brush. Inserting a pipe cleaner before hand will ensure you don’t seal the airway accidentally.

The Reveal

With the pipe reconditioned, restored and freshly polished it is now ready to go to its new home. You can BUY IT NOW exclusively for a limited time at the Lunting Bear Store. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram by clicking the links at the bottom of the page. Thanks for stopping by!

Refreshing a Peterson Belgique Pipe

The last restoration of this lot is this wee little pipe made by Peterson of Dublin from their Specialty line called Belgique. Steve Laug wrote a very thorough write up on this shape here—> https://rebornpipes.com/tag/petersons-of-dublin-belgique/ .

Originally released as one of four Specialty shapes in 1945, the Belgique is our signature take on the traditional Belge, its Egg-like bowl and forward cant reminiscent of the clay tavern pipes of yesteryear.” Source; Peterson Pipes

I’m not exactly certain of the age of this pipe, however; the rest of this lot came from the same individual, pipes from their collection ranged from the 1950’s to the late 1970’s. It’s likely safe to conclude that they purchased this pipe in that time-frame.

First Impressions

Size comparison between Group 4 Dunhill and Peterson Belgique

The pipe was in good condition overall. This pipe has a military mount stem. Both the stem and vulcanite shank extension had some mild oxidation. There are no visible fills on the bowl which is a bonus on a smooth pipe and there was minimal amount of carbon buildup in the tobacco chamber and the rim of the bowl.

Step 1: Ream and Clean

I removed the carbon buildup in the bowl relatively quickly and cleaned up the rim with some 0000 Steel wool.

Once I started cleaning the internals with pipe cleaners I realized that the pipe was going to require a more thorough cleaning.I plugged the mortise and the tobacco chamber with cotton batting then saturated it with alcohol. I use food grade alcohol called Alcool which can be purchased from the LCBO (Ontario). You can use 99% Isopropyl Alcohol as well. In my experience it evaporates so you’re not leaving any in the bowl, but just to be safe I use food grade alcohol. As you can see the alcohol did the trick as it absorbed a lot extra matter from the bowl and shank. (that is an upside down bear holding the pipe lol)

Lastly I scrubbed the exterior of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil soap which does a great job of removing dirt and oils from the previous owners hands that may have transferred to the bowl as well as any deleterious matter from the restoration process.

Step 2: Clean and Deoxidize the stem

There are multiple methods used in removing oxidation on vulcanite stems that work well. One such method is using a soft flame from a butane lighter or a Bic lighter. The process involves passing the flame over the stem which seems to burn off mild surface oxidation. You must be very careful not to overheat the vulcanite otherwise it will burn. This process is also useful for tooth chatter as vulcanite has “memory” and the heat will lift the indents.

I used the same process to remove the oxidation from the vulcanite shank extension. Now…..you must also very be careful around stamps pressed in the vulcanite, like the Peterson “P”. As I mentioned, the heat will lift out tooth chatter…..and in this case it also lifted out the stamped “P”.

After removing the oxidation, I polished the shank extension and the stem with Micro Mesh sanding pads. They come in grit sets from 1500 – 12000. I buy mine from Lee Valley. Once completed, I applied a generous coating of Mineral oil to the entire pipe.

Step 3: Stem and stummel polishing

I leave the mineral oil to absorb into the stem and stummel before polishing with red tripoli, white diamond and lastly carnauba wax.

Here is the finished pipe!

Salvaging an old SeaDog Pipe

The morning breaks, and the first sunbeams of morning peek over the horizon. The water is calm this morning like a sheet of glass reflecting the suns rays over the bay. Gulls can be heard waking the day with their calls as they emerge from their nests greeting an old sea Captain and his boat. He loads the last of his gear onto his fishing boat, a trusted old friend, weathered and weary much like himself. He steps into the cockpit of his fishing boat and sets out across the bay, slowly chugging along the water. His hands pat his coat pockets to locate his pipe, he finds a favourite billiard, sturdy and reliable, just like him. He scoops a bowl full of his favourite tobacco from a tub that sits at the helm packing it with his thumb. He takes a sip of his black coffee and lights his pipe, a humble smile appears under his beard. This morning belongs to him, an old Sea-Dog….

Okay, indulge me, I am being a little melodramatic or verbose with this post. Its fun to imagine who the previous pipe steward was before acquiring the pipe myself. My imagination got away with me on this one.

Among the pipes in this lot that I purchased was this billiard labelled Sea-Dog 8876. Sea Dog was one of many brands owned by the Oppenheimer Pipe group, apparently made in France, likely by Marechal Ruchon & Cie. as evidenced on page 34 of the Circa 1950s Oppenheimer Pipes Catalog.

One can imagine this box of pipes on display at their tobacconist counter labelled with an affordable price tag that no modern pipe smoker likely can recall or will ever see again.

First Impressions

The pipe had a few issues. Overall it was relatively clean and wouldn’t need too much elbow grease to re-condition the internals. The briar itself is a lower grade briar. The stem wasn’t oxidized and just need some tooth chatter removed and then refinished and polished. There were large fills on the side of the bowl that will need to be addressed along with some basic aesthetics to bring this pipe back up to a favourable standard.

Step 1: Ream & Clean

I used the typical methods to remove carbon build-up in the tobacco chamber. I also will use my drill head from my lathe with a drill bit to clear the draught hole of carbon build up. Sometimes its not necessary, but more often than not I find it necessary. This accelerates the cleaning process and removes more gunk than scrubbing endlessly with pipe cleaners. I don’t increase the draught hole, I just use this as a means to remove any carbon buildup.

Once I’m satisfied that I have removed all the carbon buildup, I will plug the mortise and tobacco chamber with cotton batting and saturate it with Alcool alcohol to sanitize the internals. As you can see the process pulled out a lot of unwanted matter, I’m assuming tars and nicotine.

Lastly I’ll give this pipe a scrub with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean it and prepare the bowl for additional repairs and refinishing.

Step 2: Stummel Repairs

I removed the old fill material from the pits in the briar. Clearly these would have been rejects from a pipe factory and had been filled and repurposed for an economy line of pipes. I have a dental tool set I use remove the old fills. Kind of like the dentist scratching the tartar off your teeth.

Lower Grade Briar and Pit Fills

The alcohol from the sanitize process leached through the pits in the bowl.

This is a good example of why we pay more money for good quality pipes. Ideally a pipe maker or factory wants to consume all their materials to produce a product they can sell. This bowl in most cases wouldn’t meet standard, likely discarded and thus not yielding a sale. Fills were probably used to capture as many sales as possible even with lower quality bowls.

Full disclosure. I will use the fill method myself to restore this pipe and put it back in service.

I make my own filler using a combination of briar dust and a CA Glue. Once the CA glue sets, I use a small hobby files to blend the fill to the contour of the pipe. I then sand using progressive grits up to 1200, at which point the pipe is ready to re-stain.

Step 3: Refinishing

I used Fiebing’s Dark Brown leather dye to match the original stain that was on the pipe. This will also do a good job of camouflaging the fills. I let the pipe rest overnight to let allow the stain to set in completely.

Once the stain is set, I unwrap the stain using red tripoli and a polishing bit on my rotary tool. Afterwards the whole pipe gets refreshed with mineral oil. Mineral oil can be used as a finish on wood, I usually use it to rejuvenate the wood and vulcanite stems.

**NOTE** I omitted showing the final steps of polishing the stummel and the stem work in favour of sharing how I apply bowl coatings and why

Step 4: Bowl Coating

Whenever possible I omit applying a bowl coating. However; in order to put this pipe back in service and extend its life, a bowl coating was necessary to complete this repair. Think of it like a heat shield for the pipe. I use the water glass method which is a combination of Sodium Silicate, Activated Charcoal powder and white pumice.

Water glass is the common name for an aqueous solution of either sodium silicate or potassium silicate. It gets its name because it’s essentially glass (silicon dioxide) in water. … As the water evaporates, the solution solidifies into a glassy solid. Once it cures, it appears to be exactly like the coating you get on a factory grade pipe. Aesthetically it looks good and provides a fresh surface for carbon buildup.

This old Sea Dog is ready to be re-commissioned!

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!

Restoring the rim of a 1964 Dunhill Tanshell

In 1964 the Beatles were introduced to American and our pipe smoker was introduced to this Dunhill Tanshell billiard. For over 100 years Dunhill has developed a provenance as a world renowned pipe manufacturer, a reflection of a pipe smokers class and style. As a 3rd generation pipe smoker, I have a soft spot for the white spot, made familiar to me by my Father and Grandfather.

“Dunhill Pipes creates some of the highest quality smoking instruments and accessories in the world. They are inventive, glamorous, worldly, effortless and of ultimate quality – the definitive source of pleasure and status for people the world over.”

https://dunhillpipes.com/

For comparison, in the middle is the Group 1 Tanshell featured in this article, at the bottom is my Father’s Group 4 Shell Briar.

The Tanshell finish was introduced in 1952, this pipe is stamped DUNHILL TANSHELL (32) (FT) (1)T (EX). So what does that all mean? Sometimes trying to decipher the stamping on a pipe can be an exercise in futility but thankfully we have some great resources to turn to at the Pipedia Dunhill Dating Guide. As illustrated below, this pipe is a *inhale* Dunhill Tanshell, Shape 32 (32), with a fish tail (FT) stem, Group Size 1T(Tanshell), Made in England4 (1964) *exhale*…phew.

“EX” Stamp & Dunhill Lifetime Warranty

I could not find much about Dunhill’s old warranty policy other than anecdotal information. My Father recalled that Dunhill had a “lifetime” warranty on their pipes. If there was a flaw or an issue with the pipe, simply return it to the place of purchase and it would be replaced with a new pipe.

The “EX” stamp on the stummel above the shape number indicates that the pipe or the stem was replaced within the first year of manufacture. I’m surmising then that Dunhill would stamp the pipe after doing a stem replacement or replacing the pipe thus fulfilling and voiding the warranty.

First Impressions

This pipe was heavily smoked by its previous owner. There was a moderate amount of carbon buildup in the tobacco chamber as well as the rim of the pipe. The carbon buildup had obscured the blast finish on the rim. One can also assume that he was a clencher as there was a lot of tooth chatter on both sides of the stem in the bite area as well as indentations from his teeth.

Step 1: Ream and Clean

I reamed the tobacco chamber and did a cursory clean of the draught hole. Initially it didn’t seem that bad. I used Kosher salt and 94% Alcool alcohol to recondition the tobacco chamber and draw as much matter out of the briar as possible. There was no ghosting present in the pipe prior to the treatment. After a day I returned to see the salt had done its job, however some of the matter leached up the cotton swab and around the shrink wrap I used to plug the mortise with. This pipe needed a thorough cleaning!

Unfortunately I cannot take pictures and do an alcohol retort at the same time, so you’ll have to use your imagination. I can tell you though, on the first pass with the retort, the fluid return almost black. I repeated the process two or three times then scrubbed the internals with bristled pipe cleaners until the draught hole had reached a standard I was satisfied with.

I scrubbed the stummel with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and set it aside while I worked on the stem.

Step 2: Stem Cleaning & Deoxidation

I used Mark Hoover’s Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer for this pipe. You can find all of marks products ====>HERE. I must say it works really well. I have noticed that it works better on what I would categorize as high quality vulcanite vs. what could be a lower grade vulcanite we sometimes see on old estate pipes. The oxidation was virtually gone after an overnight soak.

To remove the product and oxidation from the stem I used a cotton swab to wipe it off into the container, then scrub the stem vigorously with a paper towel. Once it starts getting tacky, I switch to a cotton paid and continue to scrub away the product with mineral oil.

After removing all the product from the exterior and interior of the stem I rubbed it down with Mineral Oil as well as passing a pipe cleaner through the interior of the stem with oil as well. In my experience, the oil dramatically reduces the possibility of the stem oxidizing again.

Step 3: Stem restoration

I used a butane flame on the bite zone to heat the stem. Vulcanite, when heated, will sometimes return to shape. I do this to reduce the need fill the tooth marks with CA Glue. Once I was satisfied with tooth chatter removal, I switched to sanding starting with 320 Grit and progressing up to 1000grit.

After reaching 1000grit I switch to Micro Mesh sanding pads and polished the stem from 1,500 – 12,000.

Step 4: Restoring the Rim

With the stem work complete I turned my attention back the stummel and the rustication on the rim. Although I used minor abrasive methods to remove the carbon buildup on the rim, the detail was too far gone, it was almost smooth. The rim also had evidence of rim charring on the one side. I thought it best to sand the rim, just enough to remove any staining and revealing the charred area. I didn’t need to sand it back to smooth as I fully intend to replicate the blast on the rim manually.

I grabbed a scrap piece of briar to try some different methods to replicate the blast finish. Using my rotary tool and a carving bit, I walked the bit along the rim of the pipe and just let the bit bounce off the surface. This created the craggly part of the finish. I blended that in with a wire wheel on my rotary tool. The results turned out great.

Lastly I used a stain marker to match the rim to the tanshell stain. It is quite impressive how well the stain markers are able to match the original finish. I have Fiebings Leather Dye in my arsenal, but for small repairs such as this, they are ideal. I recommend picking up a decent set from your local hardware store or retailer.

I gave the inner tube a good clean and scrubbed it with some 0000 Steel wool, then reassembled the pipe and polished it with Red Tripoli, White Diamond and then Carnauba Wax. Here’s the finished pipe!

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**