Restorations

Salvaging a Hog-Chewed Dunhill Amber Root 3208

Accidents can happen to anyone, and mishaps seem most likely to strike when you’re least expecting them. That was certainly the case for today’s pipe restoration project. This 2002 Dunhill Amber Root 3208 Bent Bulldog fell out of its steward’s pocket while he made the rounds of his farm north of Kingston, Ontario. Unfortunately, it landed in the pig pen and the hogs decided to use the pipe as a chew toy – ouch!

Thankfully, the pipe was recovered before too much more than cosmetic damage was inflicted by the livestock. After cleaning the mud and grime from the pipe, it was sent to me for some much needed TLC to get it back in action. As this series of photos shows, the stummel was very scratched up, but the main concern was the stem. The hogs had managed to snap off a large section of Vulcanite from the saddle portion of the stem.

The pipe is marked with a 4-digit shape code, “3208” followed by “Dunhill” in an oval on the left flank, and “Amber Root” over “Made in England02” on the right shank. As the handy guide on Pipephil.eu informs us, the first digit of the shape code 3208 indicates a Group 3 size bowl; the second digit, 2, stands for a Saddle stem, and the last two digits, 08, are the shape number for Dunhill’s Bent Bulldog. The “02” after the D in “England” is the date stamp for 2002.

Following a discussion with the pipe’s steward about repair options, the decision was made to clean up the briar and fit a new Vulcanite stem using a pre-cast stem blank. The many scratches and dings on the stummel would be left alone as sanding them out would require the removal of quite a bit of briar which could fundamentally alter the shape of the pipe. As the blemishes were completely cosmetic in nature and would not impact the pipe’s smoking qualities, the pipe’s steward elected that they remain as a reminder of this mishap and of the pipe’s twenty years of active duty on the farm.

I gave the stummel a quick cleaning to make sure there were no barnyard goodies hiding inside, then moved on to fitting the replacement stem. I forget to snap a pic while I was sizing the tenon, but this is very quick work when a lathe is available.

I mounted the stem blank in the lathe, then turned the tenon down to slightly over the final diameter. A bit of work with sandpaper gave the tenon a “snug-but-not-too-snug” fit in the shank mortise. A quick visual check confirmed that the stem face sat flat against the shank for a nice, light-tight fit.

This pic shows the new stem after sizing the tenon. The stem blank was oversized for the shank and would need to be shaped but before I did that I wanted to install the White Spot. Using the original stem as a template, I marked the location of the iconic Dunhill logo on the upper facet of the diamond saddle stem.

I drilled a 3mm hole in the marked location, added a drop of clear CA glue, then pushed a short section of white rod into the hole.

After the CA glue had had time to cure, a few quick file strokes leveled the rod stock flush to the surrounding Vulcanite. Note the clear hockey tape on both the shank and the button end of the stem. The tape on the shank protects the stamps from errant file strokes and the tape on button prevented damage to the Vulcanite from the lathe chuck.

I worked on the new stem with various files to remove the excess material and match it to the diamond shape of the shank. In the pic below, the clear hockey tape on the shank has been replaced with masking tape, which is thinner. The thinner tape allows the files to get closer to the briar without marking the wood for a nice smooth shank to stem transition. Especially with a diamond or square shaped stem, getting nice sharp corners is important to the final look of the pipe.

With the rough shaping complete, I sanded the new stem to 2000-grit to remove the file marks and sanding scratches. When I was happy with the final shape of the stem I slipped a pipe cleaner through the airway and heated the stem over the heat gun until it became pliable enough to bend without cracking. A run under cool tap water set the new shape permanently.

All that remained to be done now was final buffing and polishing of the completed pipe. As the final series of images below shows, the buffer really helped push the many scars and blemishes into the background, making them much less noticeable. Both stem and stummel were polished with Red Tripoli and White Diamond compounds, after which I finished this restoration project by applying several light coats of Carnauba wax to the entire pipe.

Despite not taking any direct action to smooth out the constellation of scratches and dings in the briar left by the hogs’ misadventures, the briar looks surprisingly good after a good cleaning and polishing. The pipe wears its battle scars rather well, I think, and the new stem looks like it has always been there. Who could ask for more?

This 2002 Dunhill Amber Root 3208 Bent Bulldog has been returned to its steward and put back into active service around the farm.

Thanks for joining me for this estate pipe rescue. I hope you enjoyed following along. Until next time, Happy Piping!

Here’s the finished pipe.

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