Restorations, Uncategorized

Spring Cleaning for a Brigham 189 Acorn

I acquired this late-1970s/early 1980s vintage Brigham 189 Acorn pipe at a recent auction. It’s on the larger size as far as Brigham pipes go, and I knew right away that it would feel great in the hand. The auction pictures weren’t the greatest, as it seems is so often the case, but the pipe looked to be in good shape, with just a bit of cake and a small bit of char around the rim to show it had been fired a few times. The minimal oxidation on the stem told me that this pipe had been stored away from the light after its retirement from use. The pipe is stamped “189” and “Brigham” over “Canada”. The stem carries one brass pin or “dot”, indicating that this pipe belongs in the 100 series of Brigham’s lineup.

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I began the cleanup on this Acorn by dropping the stem into a bath of Oxyclean and warm water and then reaming away what little cake was in the bowl. The chamber bore diameter was in between my two largest cutting heads on the Castleford reamer, so I used a scrap of 100-grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. A few light twists of the sandpaper were all it took to restore the bowl to near-factory spec. This pipe really hadn’t been smoked more than a few times.


I scrubbed the exterior of the stummel with a toothbrush dipped in Murphy’s Oil Soap. Murphy’s cuts through any wax or gunk that may be on the briar and the toothbrush gets into all the dips and hollows of the rusticated finish. You can see that the stummel has lightened a few shades in the pics below, which shows you just how much dirt gets lodged in a pipe finish just from handling.


The stummel has a darker patch on the front of the bowl, and I debated staining the rest of the rusticated briar to match, but decided that the pipe likely left the factory with this darker spot, so I left the stummel alone after giving it a wipe of mineral oil to rehydrate the wood and enliven the colours. The oil actually did a fair job of evening out the tones in the briar. The darker patch is still visible if you look hard or long enough, but blends in well enough to pass casual observation.

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At this point I retrieved the stem from the Oxyclean soak and scrubbed the oxidation and dirt from the surface with 0000 steel wool and Magic Eraser. I was lucky on this stem – it had been only gently used, and stored away before it could develop tooth chatter or indeed marks of any kind. I used a grand total of five pipe cleaners to sort out the internals.

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I took the pipe to the wheel for a buff with White Diamond compound and a few light coats of Carnauba wax. It has cleaned up very nicely and I’m looking forward to warmer weather and the chance to enjoy what promises to be a long, relaxing smoke with this pipe. The large, roughly 7/8” bore and 1-5/8” deep chamber will take a fair amount of tobacco.

Here’s the finished pipe.
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Just before I sign off for this post, here are a few pics of the 189 side by side with the 389 I restored back in July of last year. You can see how much damaged wood I had to top off the 3-Dot during that project.

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Thanks for looking and until next time, Happy Piping!

8 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning for a Brigham 189 Acorn”

  1. Lovely job, Charles. The pipe I’m currently working on has the same rusticated finish and this post has helped me much. I’m looking forward to enjoying my new Peter Piper you restored. My problem there is if I should initiate it with a bowl of Frog Morton or Stokeby’s English Oriental supreme. Thoughts❓

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