1933 Dunhill LB with Vernon Tenon

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doctorbob

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Mar 18, 2014
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Bought this off of pipelist, Ben had it listed as a reduced price sale and, of course, I fell for it. It hits ALL of my buttons- old, Britwood, excellent Dunhill blast, unusual (Vernon tenon), excellent condition, and my all time favorite shape... I didn't have a chance.
Smokes great!




Doc

 

doctorbob

Preferred Member
Mar 18, 2014
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Smokes great, but (and it is a big but) you need an inner tube to smoke a Vernon tenon pipe, otherwise the prongs condense and gurgle pretty badly in my experience.
Doc

 

huntertrw

Preferred Member
Jul 23, 2014
3,860
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The Lower Forty of Hill Country
doctorbob:
I have a pair of LBs, both with standard tenons, and I love them. Fine smokers, both.
Vernon Dunhill was something of a mechanical genius (he was responsible for the original Dunhill lighter), but it seems to me that he dropped the ball on his tenon design for precisely the reason you cited.

 

doctorbob

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Mar 18, 2014
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Yeah, I fortunately have a couple of old inner tubes, which are smaller in diameter than the currently produced tubes, to use.
Doc

 

georged

Preferred Member
Mar 7, 2013
2,608
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What exactly is a 'vernon tenon' please?
It's a way to connect a stem and bowl with a metal spring widget. Dunhill messed with the idea for a couple years, then abandoned it.
I did some shop work on one a while back and took a few pics. (Vernon tenons are one of those "pictures are worth a thousand words" items):
http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/rare-vernon-dunhill-1935-re-stem#post-826483

 

ssjones

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May 11, 2011
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Every maker was caught up in achieving a dry smoke. I guess Dunhill couldn't escape the allure either. I wonder if the shop guys thought "Geesh,why are we doing this?" or if they were also caught up in the current hype and truly hopeful for a better smoke thru apparatus?

 

doctorbob

Preferred Member
Mar 18, 2014
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Al- I don't think it was intended to have anything to do with changing the smoke. It appears to me to be an attempt at a more durable tenon that could be removed hot. Also the design has some slop in it and might actually be easier to manufacture once jigs were made than hand fitting and finishing a normal mortise and tenon.
Doc

 

georged

Preferred Member
Mar 7, 2013
2,608
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It appears to me to be an attempt at a more durable tenon that could be removed hot.
Remove hot, maybe; more durable, no. Since the contact area of the prongs is very small, the wear rate is absurdly high. It's why the design was reversed to snap into the stem instead of the shank toward the end of its run---ebonite is considerably more durable than wet wood. The later prongs-into-the-stem version was indeed an improvement, but also much more difficult (and therefore time consuming) to make.
Also the design has some slop in it and might actually be easier to manufacture once jigs were made than hand fitting and finishing a normal mortise and tenon.
Actually, there can't be any slop at all. That was another problem. A bit of tobacco or etc. caught between the stem face and the shank face and the prongs wouldn't lock. I imagine no small number of lit bowls simply dropped off back in the day.
As for cutting a normal mortise and tenon, that can be done VERY quickly when machines designed for the task are used. Nothing to be gained there, I'm afraid.
My guess is that some NON shop person with political clout and/or authority within the Dunhill organization came up with the idea, and no one wanted to get in his way. (I saw plenty of that dynamic back in my corporate days.)

 

doctorbob

Preferred Member
Mar 18, 2014
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Well, I certainly wouldn't argue with your experience George, and it clearly was a failure!
Do note that the patent application shows the possibility of using a metal ring embedded in the the shank as a mating surface for the prongs which should reduce wear. Vernon Dunhill (Alfred's second son) was credited with the design.
Doc
BTW- I do need to get that 1920 Bruyere 35 into your work line up, George. It even came with an inner tube stuck in the shank!

 

georged

Preferred Member
Mar 7, 2013
2,608
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Do note that the patent application shows the possibility of using a metal ring embedded in the the shank as a mating surface for the prongs which should reduce wear. Vernon Dunhill (Alfred's second son) was credited with the design.
10-4 on those things. A properly designed and placed metal ring in the shank would be tough to pull off profitably, though. It couldn't be made of aluminum for galling reasons, and brass, carbon steel, or aluminum would all corrode pretty readily. (Stainless steel would work, but is very difficult to fabricate.) There would also be a cascade of issues resulting from the criticality of seating depth during manufacture, wood-to-metal bonding, etc.
All things that the shop eventually discovered, I guess, since they just pulled the plug on the entire idea after a short time.
I've never paid much attention to the folksy side of pipe history---I prefer the tech stuff---so didn't know there was a Vernon in the Dunhill family line. That such a person was in fact behind the design fits my "big shots are surrounded by protective yes-men" guess pretty neatly though. :lol: Thanks for the info. 8)

 
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