I found this Brigham Bulldog on eBay quite some time ago and decided it was high time I cleaned it up for the collection.
The pipe was in rather good estate condition when I brought it to the worktable. The main issues were a deeply oxidized stem, some rim tar and associated darkening and patches of old wax jammed into the rings carved around the bowl. The briar itself was in very good condition except for a line of dents along the top of the diamond shank, likely caused by careless dottle-knocking. Underneath a layer of dirt, I could see some really nice grain in the briar – a combination of flame and birdseye that begs to be shown off.
The pipe is stamped on the left upper facet of the diamond shank with “Brigham” over “Made in Canada” in block letters. The lower left facet is marked with the shape number code “316”, denoting a Brigham Exclusive grade pipe in Shape 16. The diamond saddle stem is inset with three brass pins, or Dots, in a triangle pattern. The block letter “Made in Canada” stamp dates this pipe to what I’ve called the Post Patent Era, roughly late 1950s through the 1960s.
I started work on the restoration by first dropping the oxidized stem into a bath of Oxyclean and warm water for a good long soak. While the stem sat in its bath, I reamed the old cake from the chamber and cleaned the tar from the rim with alcohol on a cotton pad followed by 0000 steel wool and 2000-grit wet sandpaper.
The wax stuck in the bowl rings came free with a bit of attention from my dental pick. I cleaned out the remnants, along with the rest of the old wax finish and surface dirt, with alcohol on a cotton pad.
A few pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in more alcohol sorted out the stummel’s internals. It was surprisingly clean.
Working carefully to avoid damaging the stamps, I smoothed out the dents on top of the shank with 220 and 320 grit sandpapers, a medium grit sanding sponge and 0000 steel wool. A wipe with my lightest stain pen colour-matched the sanded area to the original finish. The edge is not as sharp as it was coming out of the factory, but the slight rounding is both less noticeable and more attractive than the dents.
Happy with the state of the stummel, I set the briar aside to rest while I addressed the stem, which I pulled from the Oxyclean bath and scrubbed clean with 0000 steel wool and Magic Eraser. With most of the oxidation gone, a few tooth dents became visible on top and bottom of the bit.
I was partially successful in raising the dents with a bit of heat from a lighter flame, but they didn’t raise completely. A drop of black CA glue in each divot filled the remaining depressions. I sanded everything smooth after the glue had fully cured.
Reuniting stem and stummel, I gave the pipe a wipe with mineral oil to refresh the finish and add some moisture back into the briar. The oil also makes the grain pop and helps to darken the vulcanite.
I took the completed pipe to the buffer where a short run of White Diamond compound erased any stray sanding scratches and a bit of stubborn oxidation. I finished the job by applying several light coats of Carnauba wax to shine and protect the refurbished pipe.
This was a fairly quick and easy restoration, and one that fills a gap in my collection of Brigham pipes. The Shape 16 Bulldog was a popular shape, and thus is commonly found on the estate market. I’m a bit surprised it took me this long to add one to the rack!
Thanks for joining me for this refurbishment. Until next time, Happy Piping!
Here’s the finished pipe.