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!

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!

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!