Many pipe smokers or collectors (I consider myself both) have a “Holy Grail” list of pipes they would like to own. My list totals five and this year I was fortunate to have acquired two from that list within six months. My five are highly sought after and fully restored examples are most likely beyond my meager pipe fund budget. My best bet to acquire any of these models is to find a pipe in need of restoration. Even then, I’m competing with collectors all over the world.
Two pipes on my list are Comoys Extraordinaire models. The Extraordinaire line is described in Pipedia as:
Extraordinaire. This designation was given to any pipe that was out of the ordinary in size or grain. The E/O was introduced in the 1930s, and “Extraordinaires” can be found with no other designation or also stamped, for instance, “Blue Riband” or “London Pride.”
My first Extraordinaire is a 499 that has been dated to the 1930’s, from the “football” stamp and drilled “C” logo. I bought this one from a pipe friend and it was in the condition you see pictured below. (originally purchased at Fine Pipes) I found this 498 Extraordinaire listed on Ebay and was able to make a deal with the seller to acquire it before the auction continued. It was listed as a “283/Blue Riband”, both of which I knew it was not. The nomenclature isn’t as sharp as on my 499 but it is legible. The stamping style and C logo are identical to my 499, so I assume this one is also from the 1930’s. There were plenty of dings on the bowl, including some on the top. The stem was in pretty good shape, but heavily oxidized with one tooth indention on the bottom. Here is the condition of the pipe as delivered.
There was a moderate cake in the bowl, which I reamed and then filled the bowl and shank with Sea Salt and Everclear for an overnight soak. The alcohol and salt didn’t leach much tar from the bowl, so hopefully it will be ghost free. The bowl was previously reamed slightly out of round and the Comoys beveled bowl top has been dimished over the past seven or so decades.
The next step was to steam the dents and marks from the bowl. I heated an old kitchen knife tip with a propane torch. A wet cloth, doubled over was applied to the area with a dent, then the hot knife tip was pressed over the dent. The steam eventually causes the dent to rise and I was able to remove or diminish most of the dents. You have to be careful on this step not to scorch the wood, so keep your cloth wet. I was able to reduce the dents on the bowl top to much smaller marks. Fortunately, the bowl top was not scorched by previous smokers
Removing the oxidation from the stem took several hours. I first soaked the stem in mild Oxy-clean solution to loosen the oxidation. I put a dab of grease on the “C” logo to protect it. I then used 1500 wet paper and then 2000 wet paper to remove the brown oxidation. I buffed the stem lightly with white diamond rouge (with the stem mounted to avoid rounding the edge). Next I sanded the stem with 8000 and then 12000 grade micromesh sheets. The stem was then buffed again with white diamond rounge and finally with Blue Magic automotive plastic polish.
I tried to raise the tooth indention on the bottom of the stem, but it could not be raised much. I ordered a tube of black superglue that luthiers use for repair on stringed instruments. I’ve previously used regular superglue mixed with a little black vulcanite dust but this pipe seemed worthy of the investment ($15 delivered…). I’ll update the photos after the black superglue is used.
Below is the finished pipe along with my other Extraordinaire 499. I’m thrilled and fortunate to have acquired this one before it went thru the auction process. It makes a terrific stablemate to my 499.
Update – Stem Tooth Indention Repair:
My order of Black Superglue was delivered this week from Stew-Mac. I forgot to order the accelerant, but Steve Laug told me to let the glue set overnight to dry.
I cleaned out the tooth mark using a small pick, to allow the glue to have a good clean suface.
The glue is a little thicker than regular Superglue, but it can still run, so the pipe stem must be kept level. Cut the tube open with the smallest opening possible. The bottle does have a tight fitting cap, so hopefully it does not dry out between uses.
After the glue dried overnight, I sanded it smooth with some 400 and then 800 grit wet sandpapers. I followed this with 1500 and then 2000 grit wet papers.
I then moved to the final two grades of micromesh, 8000 and 12000 grade papers, followed by a buff on the machine with White diamond rouge. I always do a final buff with automotive plastic polish. I’m pleased with how the repair came out and the black superglue does blend in better than the clear. I’m not a clencher, but I suspect the repair section would last longer then the original stem material.