Cleaning Up a Gunky Peterson Aran 80S Bulldog

I bought quite a few estate pipes over the Christmas holidays, including this Peterson Aran 80S Bulldog. It arrived in a lot of three Petes along with two D shapes which I’ll be working on in due course. All three pipes were in very nice estate condition, and the seller had taken the time to wipe the worst of the dirt and grease from the exterior of the pipes before shipping them.

As these pictures show, the 80S was still in need of some attention. The twin rings around the bowl were blocked up with wax and dirt here and there, a thin mask of lava marred the rim surface, and there was a light cake in the chamber that would hve to come out. The diamond shank saddle stem, however, was in excellent condition, without any tooth chatter at all. The previous owner was clearly not a clencher.

The pipe is stamped simply with “Peterson” in script over “Aran” in block letters on the left flank, and “80S” on the right flank. The stem carries the inset silver/nickel Peterson “P” logo.

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Peterson describes the Aran series on its website as “A smooth matt masculine briar. Available in a range of shapes with fishtail mouthpiece only.” Buyers have the option of purchasing their Aran with or without a nickle shank band.

As usual, I started the cleanup process by reaming the old cake from the chamber. My Castleford reamer did a lovely job with this bowl – sometimes you get lucky and the reamer contours match the bowl perfectly.

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The minute I started cleaning the shank and airway with pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol I knew I had a challenge ahead of me. This pipe must have been sitting dormant for some time, as I detected only a light “old pipe” aroma from it; as soon as the alcohol hit the shank, though, the full force of years of gunky Irish aromatic tobaccos hit me in the olfactory face. Pee-yoo!

There was a LOT of tar hiding in the shank. You can see the “snail trails” left on my towel after scraping the mortise with the flat end of a needle file. I’m surprised the stem fit tightly against the mortise face with this much crud in the way.

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I continued working on the internals with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until I’d purged the old tars and grime from the briar. To combat the leftover smells, I set the bowl up with what would be its first salt and alcohol treatment and let it sit overnight.

To do this, I twist an unraveled cotton ball into the shank, pushing it down the airway as far as I can get it before filling the bowl with coarse kosher salt. I prefer kosher salt as it does not contain iodine like most table salts, and I don’t want to risk iodine tainting the pipe. This is a point of some contention; I’ve head from several people that they have used table salt without problems, but kosher salt is readily available to me and using it avoids the issue altogether for me. I filled the bowl with alcohol and set the stummel aside to sit.

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While the stummel sat, I used more alcohol and pipe cleaners to clear the airway in the stem. I followed this up with an exterior scrub with Meguiar’s Scratch-X plastic polish to remove the last of the grime and prep the stem for buffing.

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By the following morning, the salt and alcohol had done its work, and the clean white salt had turned a dark dirty brown as the tars were pulled from the briar. The strong smell of old Irish tobacco persisted, however, so I set the bowl up with a second salt treatment hoping that would do the trick.

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The following day I dumped out the now brown second batch of salt and ran a few pipe cleaners through the stummel to remove any loosened tars and stray salt crystals.

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I decided to give the internals some time to dry after the salt treatments, and worked on the exterior instead, scrubbing the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and an old toothbrush. I paid particular attention to the twin rings, scrubbing around the bowl until I removed the clods of wax and debris.

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You can see in the pic above how much lighter in colour the stummel was after the Murphy’s scrub. Murphy’s Oil Soap dissolves any old wax finish on the pipe as well as removing dirt and grime. To refresh the finish, I wiped the stummel with a wash coat of very diluted Fiebing’s Dark Brown leather dye. It didn’t take long to restore the original colouring. I let the stummel dry and then buffed off the excess dye with an old towel before revitalizing the briar with a light coat of mineral oil.

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This Aran Bulldog was just about ready for the buffer at this point except for one thing – the stink of tobaccos past. I hope the flavour of our previous piper’s favourite blend was worth the ghosting! Though much lighter than it had been, I wanted to eradicate the smell before passing this pipe to a new piper.

To that end, I set up my alcohol retort and boiled two tubes of isopropyl alcohol through the pipe. I let the pipe sit and air for a day before giving the bowl a sniff – success! I was greeted with the scents of briar and vulcanite, with perhaps only the tiniest hint of prior use.

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My buffing station is in my garage workshop and therefore susceptible to the vagaries of winter weather despite the shop heater. I waited for a relatively warm day (only -5C) to take the pipe to the buffer where stem and stummel received a course of White Diamond compound and several coats of Carnauba wax.

The Aran line is an entry-level pipe series in the Peterson pantheon, but there’s nothing entry-level about this Aran 80S. I found no fills or flaws in the briar which features an attractive blend of Birdseye and Flame grain. The Vulcanite stem fits perfectly to the shank and the entire pipe seems to fit the hand effortlessly.

I agree completely with Peterson’s description – this is a very masculine pipe in a classic shape, made more distinctive by its inherent stoutness at shank and stem. It practically begs for a piper with a full beard and a tot of good whiskey!

If you’d like to add this Aran 80S to your own rack, you’ll find it in the DadsPipes Store.

Here’s the finished pipe. Thanks for joining me on this restoration, and until next time, Happy Piping!

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9 comments

    • There is something unique about Irish aro blends that really lingers in a pipe. Almost like a sweeter English blend that leaves lots of tar behind. Great if you like them but hard to clean. 😀

      Like

  1. Attractive pipe and beautiful job, Charles. Newbie question: Do you want some of the Kosher salt to find its way into the mortise for a better job, or is the action of the salt only drawing the old stuff into the bowl via the alcohol? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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