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. I took some close up photos of the rim and the stem to give a better idea of the condition of the pipe. I 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. I used the Savinelli Pipe Knife to clean out the uneven cake from the bowl.I cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was fresh. I did the same with the stem.I 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.I 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. With 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. I 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.