Daily Archives: January 29, 2014

Reworking a Bad Reshaping of a GBD International 9438 Rhodesian

Blog by Steve Laug

I am working on a pipe for Mark and in exchange he sent me a GBD 9438 pipe – one of my all time favourite shapes. It is stamped on the left side of the shank GBD in an oval over International over London Made. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the Made in London Circle (with in centered in the circle) over England in a straight line. Next to that it is stamped 9438. The stamping makes it clear that this is a newer GBD pipe from the Cadogan era. The stem has a gold decal on it – an oval with GBD in the center. It is not a roundel just a decal that is applied to the surface of the stem. The shape of the stem is slightly wider and flared as it moves away from the saddle area. It is slightly different in shape from my other 9438 pipes. It was in very good shape and the bowl was also clean and undamaged. The rim was unmarked on both the top and outer edges as well as the inner bevel. There was no rim darkening or damage. The only issue was that someone had decided to make it a sitter and flattened the bottom of the shank so that it would sit on a table without tipping. The finish was virtually gone and the flattened area was heavily scratched with little or no sanding to smooth out the work. It appeared to be a quick job of pressing the pipe against a sanding disk or orbital sander.




I removed the stem and began to reshape the flattened portion of the bowl and shank. Fortunately the sanding was done behind the drilling of the bowl so it did not thin the bottom of the bowl at all. The person who did the sanding had carefully sanded only the thickest part of the bowl and shank. I sanded the briar with a sanding drum on a Dremel to smooth out the sharp edges of the bottom and then used a folded one inch pieces of 220 grit sandpaper to further smooth out the abrupt edges of the flattened area. I used a medium grit sanding sponge to continue to remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper.



I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish so that I could more easily blend in the stain with the newly sanded bottom of the shank and bowl.



I sanded the reshaped shank and bottom of the bowl with 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped it down a final time with acetone.




I cleaned out the shank and the bowl with Everclear and cotton swabs. I also used a pipe cleaner to clean out the stem. The slot in the button was very tight and would not allow even a thin pipe cleaner to pass through so I used needle files to open the slot. Once it was open and allowed a pipe cleaner to slide in with ease I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand the inside edges of the slot and smooth it out from the files. The first photo below shows the slot before my work with the files. The remaining three photos show the progressive opening of the slot with the files and sandpaper.




I decided to give the bowl two coats of stain for contrast. For the first coat I used a dark brown aniline stain and applied it to the bowl and flamed it to set it in the grain. I hand buffed it with a soft cotton cloth and then gave it a buff on the buffer with red Tripoli.




I then gave it the second/top coat of stain. I used a medium walnut MinWax stain to highlight the grain further on this pipe. I applied it with a cotton pad and rubbed it off with a soft cotton cloth. The contrasting stain gave depth to the finish on the pipe and made the grain and stamping stand out clearly.




The next three photos show close up views of the reworked bottom of the bowl. My goal was to round out the edges of the flattened area and shape the bottom of the shank and bowl back as close as possible to the original shape before the previous owner flattened them.



I rubbed on Obsidian Oil on the stem and carefully worked on the area around the decal on the stem. Some oxidation remains in that area but I would have to sacrifice the decal to remove the oxidation and I chose to leave it. I buffed the pipe with White Diamond and then gave the finished pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buffing pad to give it a finished shine. The reworked pipe is picture in the next series of four photos. It is ready for its place in my collection of GBD 9438 pipes.




Repairing and Restoring a Lumberman Deluxe Canadian by Comoy’s

In a batch of pipes I was gifted by Andrew there was a pipe to repair. It is pictured below. The stamping on it was new to me. It is stamped LUMBERMAN over DELUXE on top of the shank and on the underside it is stamped Made and London arced in a circle with “in” at the center of the circle. It is also stamped 309X. I do not see an L after the X in the stamping of the shape number. The shank was cracked and looked like it had been taped from the sticky substance left around the shank and crack. It also was without a stem. Looking it over it appeared that the shank had also been cut off slightly and the cut was crooked. There was a chipped out portion at the end of the crack. All of that would need to be evened out in the repair. The bowl was caked toward the bottom and dirty with a buildup of carbon on the rim and the inner bevel of the rim. The finish was dirty and there were remnants of sticky tape that had been used to repair the shank on both the bowl and the end of the shank. It needed some TLC and work if it was going to be brought back to life.

The close up photo below shows the extent of the caking and the buildup on the rim. Note that the inner bevel was intact and the rim itself was undamaged – no nicks or dings on the outer edge and no burn marks. This one would clean up nicely.

The Lumberman stamping was new to me. I had not heard of it before but it looked interesting in the photos that Andrew sent along. I asked him about the brand so he included some interesting information on the stamping that he had gleaned from a Mr. Can EBay listing. It certainly sheds some light on the brand. Here is how the listing read:

“This Collectible Briar pipe is unique, extremely rare Comoy’s 309XL – a classic Canadian Shape. It has the arched Comoy’s nomenclature stamped over Deluxe (just as it appeared in the early 1930’s) both of which were stamped over Lumberman. For anyone already familiar with the stamping of Comoy Canadians that is enough to recognize that this is a rare and collectible Comoy.”

It appeared that the pipe was made by Comoy’s and well worth the effort to restore it. Andrew also sent along three pages of background information that he had found on the brand. I believe that Mr. Can was also the source of this information. I have included some of it here as it is interesting to those of us who are curious regarding the history of the pipes we collect:

“During its history, Comoy’s has had three distinct sets of nomenclature, though they became somewhat blended in later years. The earliest Comoy nomenclature either had no Comoy stamping or a scripted, signature like forward leaning Comoy’s beneath which were featured names instead of shape numbers. Few of those names (Like Leman, Naval, Adelaide, and so on) are recognized even by the most ardent collectors. Then after World War I when Comoy began introducing what is sometimes called their Old Nomenclature (featuring the Prima, as the Top of the line with other lines like the Old Bruyere, Grand Slam, Lions Head, Lumberman, Lumberman Special and so forth) and arched Comoy’s stamping was used. In the 1930’s the Prima gave way to the Deluxe as the top of the line Comoy. Then just before World War II newer nomenclature started to appear (like Blue Riband, Specimen Straight Grain, and so on) and the Deluxe was replaced by the Royal Comoy. That New Nomenclature expanded dramatically after the War and blended with the modern nomenclature today.”

“The use of the arched Comoy’s ended with World War II and was replaced after the War with a straight line Comoy’s (along with the now famous country of origin stamping of a circular “Made In London” over a straight line “England”.”

“Prior to World War II with manufacturing facilities in both France and England, Comoy had pipes made in both locations. Most were easily identifiable by their country of origin stamping. There were several versions of Comoy’s Lumberman made in France and/or England. (They might have been the dame pipe but with different nomenclature.) “The Lumberman” and “The Lumberman Special were made in both factories. But none had the arched Comoy’s stamping.”

“After WWII Comoy’s reintroduced the Deluxe, discontinued the arched Comoy’s and continued various versions of the Lumberman. Perhaps Comoy’s best graded Lumberman was stamped Lumberman Deluxe – but it had no Comoy stamping. Lumber was always stamped over Deluxe.”

“Normally Comoy offered to Canadian sizes designated by shape numbers 296 and 309. The difference was in the length of the Canadians. The 309 shape was Comoy’s longest Canadian and the 296 was shorter. However, the extra long Canadians were upgraded with the additional stamping of XL and the very longest were sometimes stamped XXL. Either upgrade was rare.” – the above was taken from correspondence Andrew included when he sent the pipe to me.

Armed with that information I was ready to work on the pipe. I have included a series of photos below to show the cracked shank and the repair I did to it. In the first photo I inserted a dental pick in the shank to open the crack so that I could clean it out. Also included in that photo is the band that I would use to band the cracked shank.

I wiped down the shank with acetone on a cotton pad to clean off the grime and build up of material left behind by the tape that had been used to repair the shank. Once it was clean I dripped some superglue into the crack of the shank and held it tightly together until the glue had dried. Once it had dried I inserted the end of the tenon of the stem I was going to fit to the shank of the pipe for the photos.




I sanded the repair and removed the excess glue from the surface of the top of the shank and wiped the area down with Everclear on cotton pads to clean up after sanding.

I decided to ream the bowl and clean the rim before I went on to band the pipe. I cleaned the inside of the shank as well as I did not want the grime and build up to run when I heated the shank and the band for the pressure fit. I reamed it with a PipNet reamer and scrubbed the rim with saliva on a cotton pad and good old fashioned elbow grease.


I turned the tenon down to get a good fit in the mortise and against the end of the shank. I wanted to see what I was working with in terms of the cut off shank. I knew that it was not straight but I wanted to see how far off it was. I also wanted to see the damage to the shank from the crack. The next series of four photos shows the damage to the shank. I was able to smooth out some of the damage but the band would certainly help in making the end of the shank smooth. I did not want to cut off any of the length after reading the information that Andrew provided. From photos I looked at on the net the stem was the right shape, taper and angles to fit this age of pipe. The old stem I chose was one that had the BBB diamond stamped on the top of it. The stamping was faint so it was a good one to sacrifice for this Lumberman.




I removed the stem once it fit well and pressed the band onto the shank. I then heated it with a heat gun rotating the shank to evenly heat the band and keep the heat from burning the briar.


I pressed the band in place while it was still hot. I use a flat board and press down evenly until the band slides into place. This takes repeated heating until the fit is tight and straight against the end of the shank. In the case of this pipe after I pressed it in place I sanded the damaged end of the shank until it was even and then used a knife to cut a slight bevel on the inside edge of the mortise so that the stem would fit properly.




Once the band was in place I needed to sand down the tenon so that it would fit in the newly constricted airway. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand down the excess vulcanite on the tenon so that the fit would be snug. The next three photos show the new stem in place with the band. The stem had been sanded with 220 grit sandpaper to match the lines of the shank and give a proper taper to the stem from the band to the button. I also sanded it with a medium grit sanding sponge.



I sanded the area on the top of the shank where the repair extended slightly ahead of the band with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge. I followed that by sanding with micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the spot. I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad until the surface was clean and free of debris and dust. I stained it with medium brown aniline stain that was thinned 2:1 with Isopropyl alcohol. I wanted the colour to match the tones that were present on the other Comoy’s that I had from this era and the photos I had seen on line. I applied the stain and flamed it. In the photos below the shine is from hand buffing the pipe with a soft cotton cloth.




I reinserted the stem and worked on the band and the stem with 1500 grit micromesh to begin the process of removing scratches and polishing. I took the pipe to the buffer and gave it a quick buff with red Tripoli and White Diamond.



I worked on the stem with my usual array of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads.



I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil to protect it and when it had dried took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the stem with White Diamond and gave the bowl and shank a light buff as well. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and finished by buffing it with a clean flannel buff. The finished pipe is picture below.