Daily Archives: June 6, 2015

Bringing a Comoy’s Grand Slam 5 Straight Bulldog Back to Life


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my worktable was a Comoy’s Bulldog. Personally, I think Comoy’s nailed the straight bulldog shape better than most others. It is a perfect bulldog shape and it is a pleasure to hold and smoke. The stamping on the left side of the shank reads Comoy’s over Grand Slam over Pipe. On the left underside of the shank next to the stem it is stamped X7. On the right topside it is stamped in the classic circle reading Made in London with the “in” in the centre of the circle. Underneath the circle it reads England. Further up that side of the shank is a number 5 stamped almost next to the bowl. I examined the C-inlay on the stem to see how it was made. I have learned over time and through research on these pipes that if it’s been applied in three steps, then it was made pre-1980. This one was indeed a three-step C-inlay. Thus I knew it was made earlier than 1980.Comoy1

Comoy2 Like all of the pipes I work on, I took a moment to give the pipe a quick assessment. Before I even start the clean up and restoration I take time to look it over to make sure I see what I have to deal with on a particular pipe. The examination helps me to plan how I am going to address the issues on this particular pipe. The Comoy’s pipe was definitely in need of some TLC. The original finish on the Grand Slam Pipe line was rich and full of life. The contrast of dark stain that highlights the grain and the top coat of stain that varies from a rich red to a dark golden combine together to give a very beautiful finish. There were no major dents in the briar that needed to be addressed, though there was a small one in the shank near the stem junction on the sharp edge on the right side that could not be repaired. The briar itself was lifeless and faded looking dull and flat. There was some dirt and grime on it and particularly at the bowl shank junction.Comoy3 The rim had a thick coating of tars on top and some minimal damage to the inner bevel. The bowl had a light cake and seemed to have been reamed recently. It would need to be tidied up.Comoy4

Comoy5 The stem was badly oxidized and had tooth marks on the top side and the underside near the button. The slot was partially plugged and would need to be opened.Comoy6

Comoy7 I cleaned up the bowl with a wipe down of alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the dirt and grime and begin to soften the tars on the rim. I gave it a light sanding with 1500 grit micromesh sanding pads.Comoy10 Then I wiped it down once more with the alcohol and cotton pads. The buildup was just about gone. Just a little more scrubbing and the rim was finished.Comoy11 I lightly sanded the stem with a medium grit sanding sponge to loosen the oxidation and then dropped it in a bath of Oxyclean to soak overnight. In the photo below you can see the oxidation begin to run off the stem into the white bubbles of the Oxyclean mixture.Comoy8 The next morning when I took it out of the bath the mixture was yellow with the oxidation. I dried off the stem with a coarse cotton towel to remove the softened oxidation. The stem was much cleaner and black of the vulcanite was beginning to show.Comoy9 I put the stem on the shank and sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper followed by a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the oxidation that had come to the surface after the soak.Comoy12

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Comoy15 I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil and then took the following photos of the stem to show the progress so far.Comoy16

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Comoy18 I cleaned out the deep tooth mark on the underside of the stem with a dental pick and then a cotton pad and alcohol. Once it was clean I used clear super glue to make a patch on the marks. I over filled the repair so that it would dry and not shrink too much requiring a second coat.Comoy19 I set the repaired stem aside to dry for the day while I was at work. After work I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. When the surface of the repair matched the stem material the sanding was finished. I then used a flat blade screw driver to unscrew the end of the stinger in the tenon. The cap on the end held a replaceable leather washer in place. Once the cap was off I was able to remove the washer. I then used a pair of needle nose pliers on which I have covered then ends with a thick wrapping of scotch tape. This provides a cushion when grabbing onto metal. The stingers in the Grand Slam were threaded and I heated the metal tenon until the goop holding it tight was loose. I turned it with the pliers until it was free of the tenon.Comoy20 With all of the parts removed from the stinger I cleaned it with a soft bristle brass tire brush to clean off the tars. I cleaned out the interior of the stinger with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I used the brass brush to also clean the threads on both ends of the stinger. When I had them cleaned I used coated the threads on the front of the stinger with a light coat of Vaseline to protect it and lubricate them when I turned the cap onto the end. I had cleaned it with some soap and warm water and then used the Vaseline to give it some life. With it all cleaned and lubricated I put it back together and set it aside while I cleaned the shank and the stem.Comoy21 I used the drill bit on the KleenReem pipe reamer to clean out the airway from the end of the mortise to the bottom of the bowl. It had almost closed off with the tars. The draught on the shank was very constricted. Once I had run the bit through it several time cleaning out the buildup the draught was open and unrestricted. I cleaned out the shank and airway with alcohol on cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. Once they came out clean the shank was finished and ready for the stem.Comoy22

Comoy23 I cleaned out the stem with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs while I had the stinger out. I was able to remove all of the buildup in the stem and then put it all back together again. The stinger end was lubricated and then threaded back into the tenon. It sits quite deep in the tenon and has a small flange that sits against the tenon end. Here are some photos of the stinger in place in the stem.Comoy24

Comoy25 I used a 1500 grit micromesh pad to further polish the aluminum of the stinger. I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-4000 grit pads. Between the first set of three pads and after the second set I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. When it dried I buffed the stem with White Diamond on the wheel to polish the vulcanite. I brought it back to the worktable and gave it a further coat of Obsidian Oil.Comoy26

Comoy27 I finished dry sanding with 6000-12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed the stem down a final time with Obsidian Oil and buffed it with Blue Diamond Plastic Polish on the buffing wheel.Comoy28 I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. Between each coat of wax I buffed it with a clean, soft flannel buffing pad to raise the shine. The photos below show the finished pipe. It is cleaned, polished and ready for that next inaugural smoke.Comoy29

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Comoy35 Thanks for looking.

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Midterm Exam #2: Repairing the Leaky Airway on a Champion Deluxe


Blog by Anthony Cook

It’s exam day again. I didn’t get much sleep, but I did have a good breakfast of Pop-Tarts and leftover ramen. So, let’s do this! This time, the exam is based on a bent brandy shaped Champion Deluxe.

PipePhil provides a little info on the Champion brand:Champ1 The pipe I’m working with has shank stamping and a stem logo that is identical to the middle pipe in the above graphic. The country of origin for the brand is listed as Switzerland, but there must be some French connection. The word “FRANCE” is stamped across the bottom of the shank-end of the stem on my pipe. You can see the pipe for yourself in the photos below, which were taken shortly after its arrival.Champ2 I was really pleased with this one when it arrived. I really liked the size, shape, and rustication pattern. As I turned it over in my hands, it seemed to be in pretty good condition. There were no major cracks or gouges, only a generous amount of grime on the stummel, one or two nicks on the rim, and a little oxidation on the stem. I thought it would clean up nicely and was beginning to look forward to working on it.

Then, I pulled the stem out to check the internals and cringed…Champ3 The airway was drilled so high that it actually penetrated the top of the mortise and only a very thin layer of briar remained between it and the surface of the shank. In fact, the wood was so thin that it had either cracked from heat/moisture expansion or had been punctured by the rustication tool. If you look closely, you can see in the second image that the alcohol from a dampened pipe cleaner would seep out of the airway to the surface of the shank.

I didn’t have the confidence at the time to attempt to repair something as essential and delicate as an airway. So, I reamed the bowl, scrubbed the inside of the shank and stem clean, and then dropped it back into the box where it’s been withering away for several months. So, today I pulled it back out for my second midterm exam.

The airway needed to be sealed before doing anything else. If that wasn’t successful any other work would be pointless. So, I clamped the stummel upside-down in my bench vise using a couple of foam strips to cushion it. I tried to make sure that the airway was as level to the ground as possible. Then, I applied super thin CA inside the airway with an applicator bulb. Since I couldn’t really see inside the shank and bowl, I had previously measured the length of the airway and marked it off on the applicator with a strip of tape. This, along with a slow and steady hand, kept me from dribbling the CA into the bowl.Champ4 Once I was sure that the glue was completely dry, I used 240-grit and 320-grit sanding needles to smooth out any lumps and bumps that the glue may have created in the airway. Then, I prepared my initial test of the patch. I dampened a pipe cleaner with alcohol and inserted it into the airway. I couldn’t see any seepage, but just to be sure I pulled out my jeweler’s loupe to give it a closer inspection. Still nothing. The patch had passed its first test.Champ5 I set up a retort for the next test. If there were any open fissures in the shank, the evaporation from the boiling alcohol would surely seep through. I flushed the shank 10-12 times before setting the pipe aside to cool. The color of the alcohol in the tube is a testament to the merits of a retort. It’s not filthy by any means, but remember, this is a pipe that I once thought was clean.

While the pipe rested, I closely inspected the shank to see if the patch had held. Success! I found no moisture seepage at all. The patch was doing its job and the worst part of the exam was over!Champ6 After another dozen or so flush with the retort the alcohol in the tube was almost completely clean. I let the pipe cool, and then gave it a final, quick scrub the wrap up the internal cleaning.Champ7 I placed the stem into a bath of warm water and Oxyclean and let soak for about an hour before I scrubbed it down with cubes cut from a Magic Eraser pad to remove the oxidation. Once the stem was clean, I applied a black CA glue patch to the remaining dents. I put a drop of activator on the patches to speed up the drying and they were ready to be worked again in about ten minutes. I sanded out the patches with 220-grit (the bottom image in the picture below), 320-grit, and 400-grit paper. Then, I gave the entire stem a light sanding with 600-grit paper to remove any minor scratches.Champ8 The paint in the stem logo was cracked and flaking. So, I picked out the loose paint, and then I began to fill in the area around the logo with a grout pen begin restoring the logo. I was a little worried about how well this was going to turn out since the recessed stamp was very narrow and shallow. I let the “paint” dry for about 20 minutes before carefully sanding it down with 1200-grit paper and I thought that it came out surprisingly well in the end. I finished up work on the stem by lightly sanding it with 1200-grit paper to even everything out, and then polished with micro-mesh pads 1500-12000.Champ9 The stem was finished and the clock on the wall was ticking. Some of the other guys were already turning in their papers. So, it was time to start wrapping things up. I mixed up a 3:1 stain solution of isopropyl alcohol and Fiebing’s black dye and applied it to the stummel. Then I buffed the entire stummel with red Tripoli before sanding out the scratches around the stamping with 400-grit, 600-grit, and 1200-grit sandpaper.Champ10 Then, I applied a 3:1 dilution of Fiebing’s cordovan before polishing the stamping area with micro-mesh pads 3200-12000. I reattached the stem and gave the entire pipe a light buff with white diamond, and waxed the pipe with Halcyon II for the stummel and a few coats of carnauba for the stem. Finally, I applied a bowl coating to promote cake growth, and then turned the exam in with my fingers crossed.

The photos below show how it finally turned out. For some reason, in these photos the cordovan and black blend together in the rusticated areas making them appear much darker. When you have the pipe in hand the cordovan is much more evident. I don’t know why that is. Man, I hope we aren’t being graded on our photography skills as well.Champ11

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Champ15 But, wait..!

Okay, I realize that this is a little unusual for an exam, but I’d like to make a bit of a revision. You see, when I ran my first bowl through this Champion the draw was extremely poor and it gurgled so badly that it sounded like an aquarium. To be honest, this wasn’t unexpected. The misalignment of the airway between the mortise was so extreme that it couldn’t help but create a lot of turbulence, and therefore a lot of moisture. I couldn’t let that stand. So, I took the stem back to the worktable to tweak it a little.

I clamped the stem in the vice and used a Dremel to cut off the stepped end of the tenon. You can see the piece I removed lying on top of the vice in the photo below.Champ16 After that, I sanded the face of the tenon smooth and level, and then used a tapered abrasive point in the Dremel to begin funneling the airway. I kept the airway lubricated with mineral oil to prevent the friction from burning or melting the vulcanite. The abrasive point opened up the end of the airway to a 3/16” diameter but transitioned it down to the 1/8” diameter of the original airway. Then, I used 240-grit and 320-grit sanding needles to make sure the transition was smooth. Finally, I used a round abrasive point to create a ¼” diameter chamfer on the tenon face around the airway and the sanding needles again to round off any of the sharp edges. In the picture below, the left image shows the step that I removed balanced on top of the stem for comparison; the right image shows the completed tenon after being reworked.Champ17 I was eager to try it out and the results were amazing for such a simple modification. The bowl smoked all the way to the bottom with no gurgle at all; even when I intentionally tried to build up steam by puffing rapidly (it was for the sake of science). After the pipe had cooled, I removed the stem and found a lot of moisture in the mortise. So, the extra space below the airway was acting like the sump/well of a system pipe. Very cool. The pipe was once again looking good and smoking well. My second exam was in the bag.

Spiffing up a KBB Blue Line Bakelite Poker 1908-1914


Blog by Troy Wilburn

Here is my old KBB I got from EBay after some light cleaning and buffing. I had found out these were quite rare and was lucky to win the bid on it.

I was thinking after some initial research that these pipes were from around 1910 – early 1920s. Seems it’s a little older than I thought. I got this info from a Kaywoodie and early KBB collector who has had several Blue Lines.

“Your pipe is made by Kaufman Brothers and Bondy, or KB&B, which later (1915) created the Kaywoodie line we all know. But this pipe is Pre-Kaywoodie, as they were making pipes under the KB&B branding from about 1900 to 1914. Bakelite was invented in 1907, so this pipe was likely made from 1908 to 1914, as the Bakelite was quite the technological wonder of the time, and was used in many products (still in use today). These “Blue Line Bakelite” pipes are rare pieces, seldom seen.”

All Blue Lines came with a case but sadly the one for this one is missing. Most pics I’ve seen so far of the Blue Lines, the metal banding has stampings of Sterling Silver and KBB. Mine has none and I don’t believe it’s silver (I think nickel as I could not get all the discoloration from it). Mine may be a lower priced model.

The pipe as it arrived.Blue1 The pipe was in remarkable shape for its age. It was not caked up and the pipe was nice and clean, ready to smoke. All I did was go over it very lightly with some 2500 grit and 000 steel wool over the banding lightly. Then I applied some light buffing and a new coat of wax. The pipe was too original to mess with much .The stem has a gorgeous red color that was bought out with a little brown and then white Tripoli before waxing.Blue2

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Blue7 The stampings are very nice for a 100 year old pipe. As you can see it looks like it was repaired once. The repair looks quite old in person and don’t think it was done anytime recently.Blue8

Blue9 It’s a smaller poker. It is in between the size of a Medico Poker and a Dr.Grabow 85 Poker. It’s around 4 11/16 inch long with a 1 1/2 tall bowl. I will probably dedicate it to my new favorite flake tobacco.Blue10