Refreshing an Interesting 1990s Brigham 5W1 Short Brandy

After slogging through a number of more complex restorations recently, I’m rather relieved that this week’s Brigham 5W1 refresh is at the other end of the estate pipe spectrum.

With no major dents, dings or missing parts, this 1990s-era pipe was in pretty good estate condition, though it needed some attention. Apart from a layer of dirt over everything, there was a reasonable layer of cake in the chamber and more packed into the ring of rustication on the rim. The stem was oxidized and had an area of mineral accretions in the bite area, but the stem itself looked pretty good underneath it all.

The pipe is stamped “Brigham” (rather poorly struck, as the B is missing) on the left shank, and “5W1” on the shank’s underside. The lack of a COM stamp indicates a 1990s production date; the shape number, 5W1, is not a regular production model; rather, it is a variation on the Norseman series shape number format of 9Wx, where x is a number from 2 through 7. It appears that Brigham had quite a few surplus Norseman stummels in stock when the series was shut down in 1980. I have seem several examples of the old stummels fitted with a standard round taper stem and sold as “4Wx” shapes. The pipe on the worktable shares the same Norseman heritage, this time in a 5-Dot version.

I decided to start working on this pipe by cleaning the carbon lava from the rim. I used a fair pile of cotton swabs wetted with good old saliva to patiently soften and remove the crud from the nooks and crannies of the rim rustication.

I then got back onto my normal routine and reamed the old cake from the bowl then tidying things up with some sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. The chamber walls and floor were in excellent condition, though the floor was dimpled slightly from a previous pipe steward’s use of a pointed knife blade to remove excess carbon.

The exterior of the stummel was in pretty good shape now that the rim lava was gone. I wiped it down with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean off a light layer of dust, dirt and grease. There is an occasional light handling mark on the briar here and there, but nothing that prompted me to sand down and refinish the stummel. A good buff and wax should do the trick from here.

I used a small pile of cotton swabs dipped in alcohol to clean the shank and airway, The pipe was really rather clean inside – a nice change!

At this point, I rescued the stem from the Oxyclean bath and scrubbed away the oxidation with some 0000 steel wool and Magic Eraser. A few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol took care of the remaining tars from the airway.

I used a needle file and sandpaper to smooth out a few ripples in the stem near the button, then polished the Vulcanite to 2000-grit with wet sandpaper to erase the sanding scratches.

All that was left to do on this Brigham 5W1 was to reassemble the pipe and take it to the buffer form a run of Red Tripoli and White Diamond compounds followed by a few light coats of Carnauba wax to shine and protect the revived finish.

The refurbished pipe is a unique piece with a mix of straight and flame grain with a bit of birdseye thrown in for good measure. The burgundy contrast stain is somewhat uncommon for Made in Canada Brigham pipes and I like it! Gone is the old carbon cake and lava crust, and most notably, the Vulcanite stem now shines a deep black against which the iconic Brigham Dots shine like stars.

This 1990s-era 5W1 has taken its place in my personal collection. Thanks for joining me for this short and sweet estate pipe restoration. I hope you enjoyed it.

Until next time, Happy Piping! Here’s the finished pipe.