Daily Archives: August 19, 2012

Restoring an old cob on a lark


This morning before I finished my coffee I was going through my box of pipes that have come in for refurbishing and came across this old cob. Now usually I don’t rework cobs. If they are in bad shape then I just pitch them in the bin. There is no need to repair them. The stems usually are junk, the shank is not reusable and the bowls are generally not worth cleaning. But this one had an interesting look to it and I kind of thought, what the heck let’s see what I can do with it just for fun.ImageImage

I topped the bowl to take care of the piece that was missing out of the edge and also to clean off the burn. I sanded the outside of the bowl and buffed it with White Diamond to smooth the surface and give it a shine. I cleaned out the tobacco in the bowl and scraped it clean with a dental pick. I worked over the shank and the inside of the stem with many pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and then a dental pick on the slot. I used isopropyl to clean the stem. I then sanded the tooth marks and tooth chatter off the stem. I polished it with a very light touch on the buffer as it is plastic and a good push will melt it! I then polished the stem with micromesh pads. Now I have a serviceable cob for my afternoon smoke! Not bad for about a 30 minute makeover! ImageImage

The stem was stuck and I was able to work it free of the stem just before I snapped this picture and decided to blog on it! When I got it out I found that the tenon on it was not wide open and thin – set up for a filter. This one was slotted and opened in the shape of a little oval. I have not seen one that is not wide open to receive a Medico Filter so I am figuring that this must be an old timer of a cob. The shank also has not been drilled to receive a filter – it is only drilled far enough to receive the tenon and then it reduces to the size of the airway in a regular briar. The bowl has a faded tag on the bottom that is unreadable. There was even a bit of unsmoked tobacco in it. Anyway the long and short of it was I decided to have a bit of mercy on this old cob and give it a once over!

Reworking an Imperial Treble Zulu – Stainless Steel Tenon


I picked up this older Imperial Tobacco Co pipe – a Zulu shape number 354. The shape number makes me wonder if the pipe was made by Comoy’s. Maybe someone here knows for sure. The number is missing on the Comoy’s shape number chart on Pipedia. The pipe is interesting to me for several reasons. It is the third in a group of three pipes by Imperial that came to me in an EBay lot. The first two were Two-Points and this one a Treble. I had not heard or seen this line before these came my way. The other reason is that several pipes in this lot had stainless steel tenons! The Treble has one and at first I thought it was original – the stem did not fit well as the tenon was stuck in the bowl and the stem would not seat all the way to the shank. The bowl was in pretty nasty shape. With lots of darkening and the grain virtually obscured under dirt. The rim was caked and tarred. The bowl was full of broken cake and cobwebs. The stem was gnawed with deep bite marks, the button destroyed and the tenon stuck in the shank.

I was able to remove the tenon from shank with a big pair of channel locks and some serious twisting and turning. I filed the end of the tenon and cut grooves in it so that the epoxy would have something to bite into when I pushed it into the stem. I then slid a pipe cleaner into the stem and threaded the tenon on the cleaner. When I got down to the stem I mixed some epoxy (two part mix) and painted it on the tenon. I let it set for a few moments and then pushed it into the stem. I wiped off the excess around the stem and tenon junction. I set it aside and worked on the bowl. ImageImage

I reamed the bowl and cleaned both it and the shank. Then I used a fine grit sanding pad that I have here to work on the lava on the top of the bowl. Once that was done I wiped down the bowl with isopropyl alcohol to remove the grime and the finish. The next photos show the bowl after the initial cleanup. From there I put it in the alcohol bath and went back to work on the stem. ImageImageImage

The next series of two photos show the bite marks on the stem and the state of the button. The bite marks were very deep and some were actually cuts in the stem material rather than just dents. I used my heat gun to raise the dents as much as possible but honestly they did not come up very much at all. This one would be a bit of a challenge. I used sanded the stem around the button and the dents with 240 grit sandpaper to get the oxidation off that area. I was going to use the superglue to repair these bite marks and needed a clean surface to work with. Once I had sanded the area clean I used a dental pick to pick away the brown left in the dents. I wanted to clean out the dents as much as possible and roughen the surface in the dent for a good bond with the glue. The first picture shows the top of the stem, the second shows the bottom. ImageImage

Once they were clean and ready I washed the area down with some isopropyl alcohol to remove any remaining sanding dust. Then I put drops of superglue in the holes on the underside of the stem first. Once they were dry I did the same with the dents on the top side of the stem. The three photos below show the glue in place – they appear as shiny black spots in the photos.ImageImageImage

I set the pipe stem aside to thoroughly dry and took the bowl out of the alcohol bath. I dried it off and then sanded the top of the bowl with the fine grit sanding pads that I have. The top is showing some nice grain and the tars are coming off nicely. ImageImageImage

I wiped down the bowl and rim with acetone (fingernail polish remover) to remove the remaining finish and grime. The white cotton pads in the background of the next three photos show what still remained on the bowl after the alcohol wash. I wanted to get the bowl down to bare briar so that I could refinish it and then give it a new coat of stain. My goal was to highlight the beautiful grain on this one. ImageImageImage

I guess I must get a bit bored doing the same thing or something, because I went back to the stem to sand the patches that I had made. I used emery cloth to get the patches even with the surface of the stem. The next series of three photos show the progress on cleaning up the stem and evening out the stem surface. The patches are beginning to fade and blend into the stem. ImageImageImage

After sanding the stem I cleaned out the stem and the shank. It was a dirty process. The first picture below shows just a few of the many pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. I dip them in the cap filled with isopropyl that is pictured in the photos and swab out the stem and shank with them. ImageImage

I reinserted the stem in the shank and wiped the entirety down with an alcohol soaked cotton pad. I wanted to see where I was at with the stem and the bowl. You will notice the addition of a band in the photos below. Once I refit the stem I could see that the stainless tenon was indeed a replacement and that it was misdrilled – it was set in the stem too high making the match at the tenon impossible. I decided to work on the shank rather than pull the tenon, redrill the hole in the stem and reinsert a bigger tenon. I could still do that should I desire. I sanded the shank a little to reduce the gap between the stem and shank. Then I pressure fit a band on it to guide the stem to the proper fit. It worked well actually and the stem lines up nicely now. ImageImageImageImage

I took the next two photos to show the state of the stem patches at this point in the repair process. You can see that they are virtually invisible on the top of the stem and just slightly visible on the underside. At this point I continued to sand the stem and work at the area around the button to redefine it and to blend in the patches. I used a fine grit sanding pad and an extra fine grit pad to remove the scratches and to make the button area more defined. I then worked over the stem with the usual list of micromesh pads from 1500-6000 grit. ImageImage

I restained the bowl with an oxblood stain and buffed the entirety with White Diamond and then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed with a soft flannel buff to bring out the shine to the pipe. You can see from the profile shots that the button is more clearly defined and the flow of the stem looks correct from the bowl to the button. The patches on the stem have blended quite well and though still visible if you look closely are smooth and black. ImageImageImageImage