Daily Archives: April 24, 2016

Refinishing an English made Comoy’s Gold Bark 87S Zulu

Blog by Steve Laug

Quite a few years back now, my daughters gave me this little Comoy’s Golden Bark Zulu as a birthday gift. They had dutifully hunted for the pipe and then picked it up at a local pipe shop. I loved the look and the shape of it as it reminded me of an older one that I had smoked from time to time. I loaded a bowl and smoked it just twice because the finish bubbled and blistered in the sandblast on the back, front and sides of the bowl. I talked with others about what to do and found out that really there was nothing left to do but refinish the pipe or return it to the shop. I looked into returning it to the shop but found that it was one of a kind so I kept it. I put it in the pipe cupboard and there it remained for many years. In the photos below you can see the blistering in terms of discolouration on the sides of the bowl. The underside of the shank had also faded and was significantly lighter than the rest of the pipe.Bark1 Bark2 Bark3 Bark4Fast forward to several weeks ago. On Facebook I was following a conversation that Chuck of Stag Tobacco in Albuquerque, New Mexico was having with one of the Stokkebyes and found that they were talking about Comoy pipes. I wrote a real time question on the thread there and found out quickly that what I had in hand was an English Comoy and that it was significantly older than I had originally imagined. Somehow I thought it was made during the period when the Italians made the pipes during the Cadogan era. I was wrong it turns out. The stamping on the underside of the shank reads COMOY’S over GOLD BARK over the round COM stamp with Made in London in a circle with the in residing in the center of the circle. Underneath the circle is a straight line reading ENGLAND. Next to that stamping is the 87S shape number and then along the edge of the shank stem joint is stamped 004.

I decided then that it was time to address the finish on the pipe. I took a few close up photos to show the blistering of the finish to give you an idea of what I was working with.Bark5 Bark6 Bark7The rim also had a little darkening from the little bit I had used it and there was the beginning of a light cake in the bowl.Bark8To begin stripping the bowl I wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads and found that it worked to remove the finish on the high spots of the blast but left a lot of the shiny bubbly finish in the deep grooves.Bark9 Bark10 Bark11 Bark12To deal with the bubbly finish in the grooves of the blast I used a brass bristle brush and then wet the bowl down with acetone to keep the surface wet while I scrubbed it with the brush.Bark13 Bark14 Bark15 Bark16I finished removing the finish with more acetone on cotton pads until the finish was clean. I took a few photos of the pipe at this point to show the new look of the finish. The lighter colour of the shank was beginning to blend in better with the rest of the pipe.Bark17 Bark18 Bark19 Bark20I gave the bowl a light coat of olive oil to highlight the red tones in the finish and then buffed it lightly with a clean buffing pad. I gave it a coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The colour of the blast and the look of the pipe exceed what I thought it would look like when I was finished. The grain on the pipe shows through the blast and gives the pipe a beautiful look in my opinion. Thanks Chuck for the impetus to get this pipe cleaned up. I am once again looking forward to using this pipe and enjoying the gift from my daughters. Thanks for looking.Bark21 Bark22 Bark23 Bark24 Bark25 Bark26 Bark27 Bark28

Taking a Minimalist Approach on Restoring a Comoy’s Blue Riband 340 Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

A reader and friend in Texas and I had been corresponding about this pipe for a long time. When he picked it up and sent it to me for a restoration I was excited to see it. The Comoy’s Blue Riband has long been a favourite pipe of mine and I looked forward to seeing what the one he was sending looked like. From the photos I could see that it was dirty and tired with an oxidized stem but otherwise in decent shape. When I arrived I took it to the shop and opened the box. The next photos show the condition of the pipe before I started the clean up process. The stem was oxidized as well as having some calcification around the button end that someone had scraped off. It did not have any tooth marks and minimal tooth chatter. The rim was dirty and sported a coat of lava that hid the inner beveled edge and the top but it did not seem to have been burned or damaged. The bowl had an uneven cake build up inside that would need to be reamed. The finish was dirty but in really good shape. The grime on the surface obscured the stellar grain that showed on all sides of this pipe.Blue1 Blue2 Blue3 Blue4I took some close up photos of the rim and the stem to give a better idea of the condition of the pipe.Blue5 Blue6I decided on a minimalist approach to cleaning this stem. I did not want to remove too much of the surface of the vulcanite or change the fit to the shank in any way. I scrubbed the stem with Meguiar’s Scratch X2.0, a plastic polishing compound. The second photo below shows the stem after one application of the polish.Blue7 Blue8I used the Savinelli Pipe Knife to clean out the uneven cake from the bowl.Blue9I cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was fresh. I did the same with the stem.Blue10I scrubbed the rim with saliva on cotton pads to remove the lava build up without damaging the finish. It took some elbow grease but I was able to remove all of the grime.Blue11I gently cleaned off the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and make the grain stand out once again. I use the soap undiluted and in this case very sparingly. I applied it with a cotton pad and quickly wiped off the surface. I did not want to remove the stain just clean the surface. The photos below show the bowl after the scrubbing.Blue12 Blue13 Blue14 Blue15With the bowl clean I took some photos of the stamping on the shank. The first photo shows the left side of the shank with the Blue Riband stamping. It is sharp and clear. The second shows the right side of the shank with the Made in London stamp and the shape number.Blue16 Blue17I continued to scrub the stem with the Meguiars polish until the vulcanite began to shine with a rich black glow. I sanded it with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. It took a lot of elbow grease but it worked and the stem shone. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond and then gave the full pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed with a clean buffing pad and then by hand with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I mailed it out to my friend in Texas and look forward to hearing what he thinks of the pipe now. Thanks for looking.Blue18 Blue19 Blue20 Blue21 Blue22 Blue23 Blue24

PipNet Pipe Reamer Brochures

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother, Jeff picked up an almost new PipNet pipe reamer off Ebay. He got it for a good price and it was great to have it to work with when I was visiting him in Idaho. It got a lot of use. It is the same set that I have here but the difference was that his came with the brochures that came with the reamer. I took photos of the brochure so that I could have a set myself. It is always nice to have the documentation that comes with these tools.

The front of the first document showed the PipNet reamer and how it worked. It is printed in French and English on this side of the document.Pipnet1On the reverse side it is printed in German, Spanish and Italian giving the same instruction. Both sides of the document note that the tool is Swiss Made by Tana SA.PipNet2There was also a short note included in the box that the reamer came in that gives some background on the inventor of the reamer and how he saw it being used. I thought it was a nice piece of background information on the reamer that is my go to tool for reaming pipes that I refurbish.PipNet3I don’t know about you but I love finding this old information as it adds colour to the tools that I  use on an almost daily basis in pipe restoration. Thanks for looking.

Kaywoodie 98B Standard Restoration

By Al Jones

I picked up this pretty beat Kaywoodie as a parts pipe, but after receiving it, the pipe showed enough promise that I couldn’t dismantle it.

The pipe came equipped with the “Drinkless” stamped stinger, but missing the ball.  This is an important detail in dating the pipe, so I was glad to see it.   The “Drinkless” stamp on the stinger was dropped in the early 1950’s and the 4-hole stinger was dropped by 1954.  So, this pipe dates before 1954, but could be as early as the late 1940’s.  A member of the Pipesmagazine.com forums pointed out that the 98B shape had a flat top in the early 1940’s catalogs, then changed to a domed top in the 1950 catalogs.  Below are two catalog pages from 1947 and 1955 showing how the shape evolved.

Below is the pipe as it was received.  The stem was badly oxidized, with teeth marks.  The briar was burned on top and it had some scorch marks on each side.  The scorch marks on the bowl sides were the most worrisome.  I was afraid if they were to be removed, the bowl shape might be altered.  The pipe would definitely need to be restained.

Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Before (1)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Before (4)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Before (2)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Before (5)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Before (3)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Before (6)

I reamed the bowl and topped the bowl using some 320 grit paper on a flat surface.  I used 600 grit paper, dry, to remove the scorch marks on both sides of the bowl.  I then used a razor blade to redefine the bowl rings, and followed that with a needle file.  I was pleased to get most of the scorch marks out without significantly adding any flat spots or loosing the bowl rings.

I soaked the entire bowl in an alcohol bath. The stem was soaked in a mild Oxy-Clean solution, with a dab of grease over the logo.  Following the alcohol bath, I removed the rest of the stain with some Super-fine steel wool.  I used a cloth on the nomenclature, which was already faded.

The bowl was then stained with Fieblings Medium Brown stain, at close to full strength.  I was pleased to find that this covered the remaining scorch marks nicely.  The bowl was then buffed with White Diamond and several coats of Carnuba wax.  The bowl had been reamed a bit out of round, but there was plenty of wood on that side.  I didn’t feel compelled to do anything else and it shouldn’t be a issue in use.

Using the flame from a lighter, I was able to remove some of the teeth marks. I sanded the oxidation from the stem with 600 grit paper.  I wrap the paper around a popsicle stick on bulldog stems to keep the stem angles from softening.  This was followed with 800, 1500 and 2000 grit wet paper.  The stem was then buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish.

Below is the finished pipe.  This one should be ready for another 60 years of service.  I’ll most likely resell the pipe and recommend that the cut stinger be cut off completely.  I left it on only to show the dating provenance.

Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Finish (1)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Finish (3)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Finish (4)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Finish (5)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Finish (6)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Finish (7)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Finish (8)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Finish (9)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Finish (10)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Finish (11)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Finish (12)Kaywoodie_99B_Standard_Finish (13)




One of those unforgettable days Pipe Hunting

Blog by Steve Laug

Last week I was in Idaho to spend time with my 87-year-old father who needed to have the aorta valve on his heart replaced. His surgery was on Tuesday and went exceptionally well. On Thursday morning my brother Jeff and I visited him in the hospital and then drove to a neighbouring city to do some pipe hunting. There is something about the thrill of a pipe hunt that is hard to beat in terms of the adventure of the hunt and the thrill of the finds. It is something that we both enjoy doing and it is great to be able to do it together. In preparation for our hunt that day we had done a bit of research on our destination city. We had visited a few shops in the town where my brother lived and picked up a magazine of antique shops. He had hunted pipes in the neighbouring community so we knew there were a few shops.

But in our digging we found that there were 13 antique shops in that city and that many of them may well have pipes. So we drove the fifty miles to get there with expectation but we had no idea what we would run into when we arrived. The first shop we went to had several pipes that I picked through. I purchased a bent billiard Peterson K-Pipe with a fish tail stem that was in decent shape for $10 and the shop keeper gave me a GBD Lovat with a severely cracked bowl. He sent it along to see if I could do anything with it and only wanted photos of the process.

The second shop we went to had no pipes but did have a wealth of information for us on the antique shop scene in the city. She recommended two shops owned by a husband and wife team that was only a couple of blocks away. We walked to the shops and enjoyed a great visit with the wife and the staff of the two shops. They went through their stock in the back room and were able to find four pipes that I picked up – a Dr. Grabow bent bulldog for $8, an Ehrlich Canadian with a monogram on the shank $8, a Ben Wade Freehand $6 without a stem and a Peterson System pipe bowl without the stem for $3. I had happened to put a stem in my bag when I flew to Idaho for another pipe my brother had and it fit perfectly. So far I had spent a whopping $35 and had six pipes to show for it. I was pretty pumped and we had only covered four shops at this point.

We put our bounty in the back seat of the car and drove to the next shop. The owner had sold out everything in her pipe section but a couple of beat up corn cobs. I asked if she had any other pipes in the back. She thought for a moment and then opened a bag under the counter and took out a nice flat bottom rusticated Jobey Stromboli Bent sitter. I don’t remember the shape number as it is still packed away. That one was $10. She recommended another shop to us so we drove to the next shop. It was a small hole in the wall shop – an old single story house that had been converted into and antique shop.

When we got there the owner was outside painting the building. She said that her 84-year-old mom was running the shop and she would show us the pipes that they had. We looked around for a while and she pointed out their stock. I picked up a Peterson Dublin Castle that was barely smoked for $42 and a Scandia Bent acorn with a twin bore stem for $6. I also picked up a nice leather pipe pouch for $10. My brother picked up a beautiful Servi Basket Weave carved block meerschaum for $49. It was barely smoked. By far this was the shop where we spent the most – a total of $107. We had 10 pipes and a new pipe pouch for a total of $152 at this point in the process.

In the course of our conversation with the mother of the shop owner it turned out that her husband had owned a pipe shop and that these pipes were some of his stock. I asked if he had more and if he would be willing to have a couple of visitors. She called him and let me talk with him about what I was looking for. It turned out he was willing to meet us at his house if we were serious about buying estate pipes. He had many that he was motivated to sell. We left the shop and drove to his house. He met us at the door smoking some Lanes 1Q in a Stanwell. He took us into the kitchen to show us what he had for sale. He had a rack of 36 pipes and a small rack of about 6 and at least 6 unsmoked and four smoked Gourd Calabash pipes. There was also an assortment of other loose pipes on the counter to look at. On the floor was a large ice chest filled with bulk tobacco that he was also selling.

As I looked over the pipes I felt like we had hit the jackpot with this lot. I spent a lot of time talking with him as I went through the pipes he had displayed for sale. I mentally catalogued the ones on the rack. There were 7 Savinellis, 6 Petersons (2 shape 999 one of my favourites), 2 Bjarne pipes, 2 Nordings, 1 Dunhill Shell, 4 Italian Corsena pipes, a Castleford, two older horn stemmed pipes, a Tracy Mincer author, a Jobey Asti,a Dutch made ceramic double walled Dublin, a Stanwell 63 and a Lane billiard. I looked through the others and as I picked them up he would get a sentimental look on his face and remove those from sale. There were a lot of pipes for sale in that lot. He kept repeating that he was a motivated seller. While I was fiddling at choosing a bunch to take with me, Jeff asked him what he wanted for the lot. He stalled a bit but finely gave us a price for the rack and the pipes that were on it. We dickered a bit and he threw in a Gourd Calabash for my brother. We made a deal and added 35 more pipes to the days finds along with a solid oak three tiered 36 pipe rack. I also picked up a tin of GLP’s Blackpoint and a sealed package of Esoterics’ Peacehaven (a pleasant mix of 6 Virginia tobaccos).

We loaded our bounty in the car and bid the old pipeman farewell. He hinted at the fact that he had many more pipes that he would be selling in the near future so I am sure we will one day go back for another visit. We had a bit of lunch and made our way back to the hospital. All in all it was one of those amazing days. We came home with 35 pipes (several that were unsmoked), a pipe pouch and an oak pipe rack. My brother has been hunting pipes for a while now and we both knew that this was a rare find that we had stumbled upon – we got to cherry pick a pipeman’s estate and bring home some of his old pipes. It was a mixed lot but there were more than enough really nice pipes in it to make it a worthwhile purchase. Besides that we got to meet a nice older pipeman who was thrilled that his pipes were going to someone who obviously loved pipes as much as he did.

Oh, I almost forgot. When he had his shop I used to stop by there on the way to visit my mom and dad. I stopped and bought pipe tobacco and cleaning supplies from him over the years. When we walked in his front door he remembered me and I remembered him. That was the icing on the cake for me. He had closed his shop several years before and I had lost touch with him. It was a very good day pipe hunting.

When we got back to my brother’s house I set up the pipes and took the following photos of the haul. You can see the amazing pipes that we found. The first photo shows the rack and the finds in their entirety.Hunt1The next photos I tried to get some closer pictures. The first one below shows rows 1 and 2 of the rack. The second one shows rows 2 and 3. The third photo shows the pipes on the table in front of the rack. I put the Peterson stem I had brought along in the Peterson bowl I found. See if you can identify the pipes in the rack and on the table. What do you think of the results of our hunt? I am still pretty pumped by the find and had to share it with folks who understand what it feels like to make this kind of find. Thanks for looking.Hunt2 Hunt3 Hunt4