A Royal appointment for this fallen and forgotten Patent era Dunhill

Dunhill pipes are the most recognized pipe brand in the world. Highly regarded for their commitment to quality standards and design. Of course my opinion is biased based on my own love affair with the brand.

It must be useful. It must work dependably. It must be beautiful. It must last. It must be the best of its kind.

Alfred Dunhill

This Dunhill pipe came to me in a lot with several other pipes at an estate auction. When I entered the home to collect my items I realized that this was likely a situation where “Mom & Dad” had been put into a home after no longer being able to care for themselves. Looking around I could see a lifetime of curated objects. Imagine the stories they could tell! Unfortunately the home had fallen into disrepair and neglect. My lot resided in the office of the patriarch of the household upstairs. As I entered, again I observed a lifetime of objects curated to the tastes and passions of the owners.

My lot of pipes resided on a shelf in the fellas office, however upon inspection one of the pipes in the lot was missing. I spoke with the Estate seller and they commented that the elderly couple were “taking” items back from the house that were put in auction. They apologized and offered my money back. I contemplated it for a moment then remarked “if my kids put me in a home and tried to sell my pipe collection, I’d steal my favourite pipe back too”! We both had a chuckle and I collected my remaining items.

To my surprise there was a filthy little billiard with a telltale white spot on the stem. I couldn’t see much else under all the years of dirt and carbon buildup but it appeared that a Dunhill was in the lot.

First Impressions:

This pipe certainly served its master well. This pipe was HEAVILY smoked and despite the previous owners best efforts, I was shocked that it did not have a catastrophic crack, split or burnout anywhere on the pipe. Structurally this pipe was in fair condition. Clearly the title of this restoration has spoilers, but it was during this initial inspection that I was trying to determine what it was I had in my hand. Thus far that only distinguishable Dunhill feature was the white spot. Fortunately I have a magnifying lamp which came in handy for identification.

In the figure above you can clearly see the letter “A”. This represents the finish, in this case A = Bruyere. Initially, made from over century-old briar burls, classified by a “B” (denoted highest quality pipe); “DR” (denoted straight-grained) and an “A” (denoted first quality). Further down the shank towards the stem you can faintly see the makers mark “DUNHILL” over “LONDON
On the opposite side of the pipe you can clearly see a “35” close to the bowl, which indicates the shape number. The makers mark further down the shank was more difficult to decipher, however; a faint “365” could be seen. Above that I could see a “D” and a underscored “0”.

I referred to the Dunhill Dating Guide on Pipedia to see if I could determine the age of this Dunhill based on the information I was able to glean from its initial inspection. I searched for a patent number that ended in “365” and found one, see below.

Dunhill had several patents, one of the patents made for the Canadian market was Patent No. 197365/20. Now to find the date code so I can determine the exact age of the pipe. As you can see below, the mark beside the “D” in ENGLAND is an underscored “0”. This indicates that this pipe was manufactured in 1930 making it 92 years old.

The other information that is important here that I’ve indicated with an arrow above is that this pipe used “Inner tubes with flange”. I’ve highlighted in yellow below how the inner tube would be positioned in the pipe. This will be important further into the restoration.

Step 1: Remove carbon buildup

There was quite a bit of carbon buildup inside the tobacco chamber, however; it was not as problematic as it appears in the picture. It crumbled away relatively easily when I reamed the bowl. It wasn’t long before I was back to the briar wall. Next step will be to ream the draught hole and the mortise.

I insert a drill bit into the chuck from my lathe and turn the bit manually to ream the mortise and the draught hole. I start with smaller drill bits and work up to the original size that the pipe would have been drilled with. I do this before I clean with alcohol and pipe cleaners.

As you can see below I removed quite a bit of matter from the mortise and draught hole. I was able to ream and reface the end of the mortise along with removing and tar or matter that builds up in this area between the tenon and the mortise walls.

When I inspected the condition afterwards, it was clear that the mortise was much deeper than the tenon itself. I used my calipers to measure the difference which you can see below.

There could be a variety of reasons that could have caused this. This Dunhill used the flanged inner tubes, that would mean that the mortise would need to be drilled to accommodate both the flange and tenon in the mortise. Secondly I’m make an assumption that the pipe was intended to be smoked with the inner tube in place, as such a gap between the tenon and the end of the mortise would be inconsequential. This may be a common occurrence with some of these older Dunhills. But I’m making some assumptions here. Reader, if you have some knowledge on this feel free to share!

Step 2: Clean & Deoxidize the stem

The stem was equally as clogged as the stummel. I used a combination of methods including using a drill bit to ream the accumulated tars from the stem. With every turn of the drill bit, more and more matter came out. I couldn’t even bother trying to clean with alcohol until I pulled out all the crusty internal buildup.

Once the internals of the stem were clean, I soaked it for 24 hrs in Mark Hoover’s Deoxidizer, available at lbpen. The results are ideal. You can see the brown oxidation has been completely removed.

Step 3: Clean & Recondition the stummel

While the stem was soaking, I used this opportunity to thoroughly clean and recondition the stummel. Thankfully due to all the prep work with reaming, I didn’t need to use many pipe cleaners to clean the draught hole. I inserted some cotton balls into the tobacco chamber and the mortise then soaked them in Isopropyl alcohol for 24 hrs.

As the alcohol evaporates it draws tars and nicotine from the briar and deposits them in the cotton ball. This process removes any odours and foul tastes left behind by the previous smoker.

With the stummel cleaned and reconditioned, it was time to scrub 92 years worth of filth off the pipe. For this I use a toothbrush and scrub the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap.

With the stummel cleaned, you can see the markers mark much clearer on the shank, verifying my initial inspection.

Step 4: Stem Repair

I turned my attention back to the stem to remove the tooth dents and chatter. The button was deformed and almost nonexistent from years of the smoker clenching the stem in their teeth.

I attempted to lift the tooth dents out using my heat gun. I was able to lift some of the tooth dents out, what remained would have to be repaired. I used Rubber Toughened CA glue to rebuild the button and the bite area. I used hobby files to shape the end of the stem, afterwards I sanded the stem from 320-1000 grit, then switched to micro mesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit.

Step 5: Refinish the stummel

The finish on the pipe was all but gone with just the brown undercoat visible. I again turned to the Dunhill guide to determine what the original finish would be for the Bruyere series. I found the following:

I used Dark Red Feibings Leather dye to apply the top coat on the pipe and restore the original finish of this Dunhill Bruyere.

Step 6: Buff and Polish

With the finish restored and the stem repaired, it was time for the last step to buff and polish this Dunhill back to a standard worthy of the royal warrant given to Alfred Dunhill. Here is the finished pipe.

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!