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.

A tale of two Patent Era Brighams Part II

Part II of this post is another Patent Era Brigham that was in the same lot as the first. This one peiked my curiosity as well as it was accompanied by a Company Brochure as well.

We established that Brigham didn’t move to 121 King St until 1954. This second pipe I’m going to estimate is from 1955, the last of the patent era pipes. The other curious matter is the shape. Stamped as shape (288), however; there is no reference to this a panelled billiard being available in either Brochure, and in the 1950’s how else would you know you could get one unless you shopped in person. Perhaps this was a shape only available “in store”.

Another noticeable difference is the addition of more pipe grades. Brigham reportedly added grades from the 40’s -60’s. The previous Patent Era Brochure only offered 1-5 Pin grade options. In this brochure we can see the addition of an “Executive” and “Director” grade.

Pipes now came in grades 1-6 Pin with the “Executive” grade, a vertical 3 pin, now a total of 7 grades for Brigham. The patent era “Special Grain”, previously the 4 dot pipe, is now the 5 Dot pipe and the “Straight Grain’ is now a 6 dot, their highest grade. You can find more about Brigham Pipes history and grading here—-> Brigham Pipes – A Closer Look at Dots, Dates and Markings. Now on to the restoration.

First Impressions

This pipe is a Patent Era Panelled Billiard, it’s a modest sized pipe stamped (288) CAN PAT 372982 with the thin script Brigham stamp. There was not a lot of carbon buildup in the tobacco chamber, but there was some carbon buildup on the rim. Both issues would be simple to remedy. The stem was oxidized but that too would be a routine cleanup with a bath in the deoxidizer.

The big issue that this pipe had was only discovered when I attempted to inspect the Brigham tenon and found the stem was seized in the mortise. Any torque I put on the stem was too much stress on the shank of the pipe and would have broken it. I suspected that the aluminum tenon had begun to corrode which is why it wouldn’t budge. This will be a little more complicated to troubleshoot. I’m going to skip over some of the early steps as you can see the carbon removal process in the previous post. I’m going to skip ahead to the stem issue.

Stem Removal and Repair

I tried several methods to coax the stem free with no success (heat, cold, alcohol), nothing worked. My last strategy is to heat the vulcanite, remove the pin securing the tenon in place and pulling the vulcanite away from the aluminum tenon. If successful, I’m hoping the tenon is intact and not decomposed in the vulcanite stem.

I used a heat gun on its lowest setting and warmed up the stem until it was pliable. That gave me enough play in the stem that I was able to wiggle first pin out and pull the stem off. The tenon was completely intact.

I used a set of needle nose pliers to put some direct torque on the tenon to see if that would convince it to release but it was not going anywhere. I turned my attention online to find options to dissolve aluminum corrosion. I found a solution consisting of Distilled water, lemon juice and white vinegar. I didn’t have the first two ingredients at the time but I had some Allens White Cleaning Vinegar on hand. Using a glue syringe, I applied droplets of the white vinegar as best I could between the mortise and the tenon. Nothing seemed to happen, so I heated up the tenon directly this time over the heat gun. The combination of the vinegar and the heat did the trick and the tenon came free. Left behind was the evidence of aluminum corrosion that locked it in place.

A little steel wool cleaned up the tenon nicely. Afterwards I applied heat to the stem again to soften it, then re-installed the aluminum tenon and secured it in place with the brass pin.

Some of the tooth dents were erased from the stem using the heat gun as the rubber warmed up. The ones that I couldn’t raise with heat I filled using Rubber toughened CA Glue.

Reconditioning and refinishing the stummel

While I worked on the stem, I reconditioned the tobacco chamber with cotton balls and isopropyl alcohol. The isopropyl has more alcohol concentration than the Alcool. I tend to use the stronger stuff on the older pipes to ensure they are thoroughly reconditioned.

Afterwards the whole stummel gets scrubbed down with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove any grime and dust accumulated over time.

I topped the bowl using 320 grit sandpaper to remove the carbon buildup on the rim and restore the smooth rim beneath. I used subsequent grits 320-1000 to refinish the rim, then used a stain marker to match the rim to the rest of the finish.

The pipe was reassembled, buffed and polished with Tripoli, White Diamond and Carnauba wax.

Here’s the finished pipe! You can curate this pipe for your own collection by visiting the Lunting Bear Store. The original box, pipe sock and brochures are all included with this pipe.

And we’re back!

Welcome back folks! A big thank you to all my Customers and followers thus far. The last 4 months have been busy clearing out the Lunting Bear Archives of my earliest restorations! Many thanks to those that provided such great feedback, it was very much appreciated.

With 2021 over and now well into 2022 (or is that 2020..too, ugh haha), I am back at the blog and have acquired several pipes I hope you’ll enjoy. As always you will be able to curate these pipes for your own collection at the Lunting Bear store.

Stay tuned folks!

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!