Daily Archives: March 14, 2019

What a Mess – a Weary Comoy’s Tradition 157 Barrel

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue came from an auction in Los Angeles, California that Jeff picked up online. This one was a Comoy’s Tradition Barrel Billiard. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Comoy’s Tradition and on the right side of the shank is the Comoy’s COM Stamp (Made in London in a circle over England) as well as the shape numberb157. It is a barrel shaped pipe with a flat bottom on the heel and sits well as a sitter. As is typical of Comoy’s Tradition pipe this one is a beauty. The finish is smooth and looks like nice grain under the grime of years. The rim top was smooth and had a beveled inner rim edge. There was a thick coat of lava on the rim and on the beveled inner edge. The pipe was dusty but the finish looked like it was rich and would clean up well. The stem is a vulcanite taper with a Comoy’s three part inlaid C on the left side of the stem. The stem has tooth marks and chatter on both sides at the button edge. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. Jeff took a photo of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The lava overflowing the thick cake in the bowl all but concealed the inner and outer edge of the bowl and made it impossible to know the condition of the pipe. There was also tobacco debris in the bowl and stuck in the lava on the rim top.He also took photos of the right side and left side and underside of the bowl and shank to show the amazing birdseye and cross grain around the bowl and the smooth bottom that made the bowl a sitter. The classic Comoy’s stain looked pretty good under the grime.Jeff took photos of the stamping on both the left and right side of the shank and the Comoy’s C on the left side of the stem. It reads as noted above. The stamping is legible and very readable. The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. They also show the deep oxidation on the stem.Once again, Jeff did his usual thorough clean up job on the pipe so that  when it arrived here in Vancouver it looked amazingly good – almost like a different pipe. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl of the pipe. He rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove all of the lava build up on the beveled rim top of the pipe. The rim top and beveled edge looked very good. The birdseye grain was beautiful and the pipe looked very good. The stem looked a lot better than previously. Jeff had soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer and it had done a great job on the oxidation. There were tooth marks and chatter visible on both sides of the stem at the button. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work. I took close up photos of the bowl, rim and stem surfaces to capture the condition of the pipe after Jeff had done his cleanup. It reminded me once again how glad I am that he does this work for me and I can work on a clean pipe. The rim top was clean and the beveled inner edge was in excellent condition. There was some rim and edge darkening but it was relatively undamaged. The stem was quite clean with some tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button.I decided to address the rim darkening first so I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge of the bevel and clean up the darkening.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads (1500-1200 grit pads) and wiped the bowl down with a wet cloth to remove the sanding dust. I was so intent on doing it that I forgot to take pictures of this part of the work but you all know the effectiveness of micromesh in polishing briar. Once I was finished polishing it I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. At this point I remembered to take photos. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the grain really stood out on the smooth rim. The finish looks very good with the combined dark and medium brown stain on the bowl and rim. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks on both sides with black super glue. It takes a while  to cure so I set it aside and worked on another pipe while it hardened. Once the repair had cured, I sanded it with 220 and 400 grit sand paper to smooth out the repairs and blend them into the surface of the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli and brought it back to the work table and finished polishing it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I finished by giving it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and setting it aside to dry. Since I had finished both the bowl and stem I put them back together and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The smooth rim top and the beautiful birdseye and cross grain finish on the bowl came alive on the buffing wheel. The rich brown stain works well with polished black tapered vulcanite stem. The finish looks amazing and it is smooth and light weight in the hand. Judging from the condition when we got it, I am sure that it will be an amazing smoker. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I will be putting this beauty on the rebornpipes store shortly and it can be added to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beautiful Comoy’s Tradition Barrel 157 pipe.


Reconstructing a Broken Stem on a 1964 Dunhill Shell 253 f/t

Blog by Paresh Despande

I had just finished a second of the 30 pipes from my Mumbai Bonanza find, a 1979 DUNHILL BRUYERE 51671; here is the link to the write up; https://rebornpipes.com/2019/03/13/reconstructing-a-broken-stem-on-dunhill-bruyere-51671/

I was fortunate enough to have heeded to the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Mr. Steve, and struck a deal with a trash collector from Mumbai. He did not know what he was selling and I did not know what I was buying as we reside in different cities!! The argument that Mr. Steve presented was that if not anything, I shall at least have some spares and this was logical. I struck a deal and here are pictures of the pipes that I received in this lot. This lot contains some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brand pipes and some mediocre pipe brands. Overall, with seven Dunhills, a Preben Holm #1, a couple of Made in England Pete System pipes, Charatan’s, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had hit a huge jack pot!! Hence, I like to call this find as “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The pipe that I decided to work on next from this find is another Dunhill, a 1964 Shell Briar billiard, and is marked in an indigo circle in the picture below. It is stamped on the heel and the underside of the shank with the shape number 253 over a star followed by F/T followed by DUNHILL over Shell Briar over the COM stamp Made in England 4 which dates it as being made in 1964. This is followed by Group size number 4 in a circle and letter S for Shell. Dunhill White Dot adorns the top of the vulcanite stem. The stampings are deep, crisp and clear. I tried to search on pipedia.org for the significance of the star on the heel. However, the information available did not match with the stampings on the pipe on my worktable. I approached members in my group on FB. Their learned response indicated that Dunhill stamped their replacement stummel with a star at the bottom of the heel. They also assured me that these replacement bowls are intrinsically original with same quality as the original and that this does not affect the value of this pipe.

With assurance, I move ahead with the restoration of this beautiful medium sized and sandblasted Dunhill billiard.

The chamber is clean with a thin layer of cake which indicates that the pipe has been kept clean by its previous Steward. From what I can see, the chamber walls appear to be without any damage. The chamber is odorless. There is an overflow of lava on the rim top surface. The inner rim edge show minor unevenness which should be easy to address. It is the outer rim edge that shows significant damage in the form of dents, dings and scratches, all along the circumference. This must have been caused due to hammering of the edge against a hard surface to remove dottle!!!!! This being a Dunhill Shell, it will be a challenge for me to fix these dents. The mortise is clean and so is the shank airway. The condition of this pipe is very similar to the earlier Dunhill Bruyere that I have restored and makes me wonder if these could have come from the collection of the same Steward. The stummel boasts of some beautiful sandblast patterns, a mix of straight and cross grain all around. It is dirty with grime and tar filling in much of the craggy finish. The briar looks lifeless and dull which is nothing serious to address. The round shank of the Billiard flows into a long tapered stem which has a flare, like a fish tail, at the button end and hence the stamp F/T. The vulcanite stem shows significant damage to the button end, in fact, there is no button at all, similar to the Dunhill Bruyere that was restored earlier!!!!! This convinces me that there is a high probability that these have been previously enjoyed by the same Steward. The stem end is missing, well, about an inch of vulcanite. This pipe would have been his favorite and he had continued to enjoy bowls of his favorite tobacco long after the button end had been chewed off. This is evident from the significant tooth chatter on both the surfaces of the stem. I intend to reconstruct/ rebuild this portion of the stem, including the slot, while maintaining the stem and general profile of the pipe. This will require major repairs. The quality of vulcanite is good. The condenser tube inside the stem however will have to be cleaned and sanitized. In this project, repairs to the damaged outer edge and stem rebuild will be a major challenge, the stem more so, as achieving the fish tailed profile of the stem will need to be adhered to for overall aesthetic appeal of this piece of briar. Having just finished the tedious restoration of the Dunhill Bruyere, I am aware of the challenges this restoration will present en-route.

Since the stem has significant damage, and from my experience of stem repairs this will be time consuming and laborious part, I start this project by tackling the stem first. I had decided to rebuild the entire stem including the button and the slot, while giving the button end a slight flare which is the trademark of a fish tail stem. This decision was partly dictated by the fact that I do not have a rotary cutting blade to cut the damaged button end and partly to my innate desire to maintain the originality of the pipe. It’s a Dunhill after all!!

Now that I was clear about the path to be followed, I first flame both the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter. The heat from the flame raises the vulcanite to the surface and takes care of the tooth chatter that was seen earlier. I sand the stem end with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to erase the scratches and provide a smooth surface for the intended fill. I cleaned out the internals of the stem with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Once I was satisfied with the internal cleaning, I wiped the stem surface, particularly the damaged button end, with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove any traces of dirt and grime. To begin the stem repairs, I smeared a folded pipe cleaner with petroleum jelly and inserted it in to the stem airway. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and generously applied it over and extending beyond the broken surface and set it aside for curing over night. I have not researched and measured the exact length that I had to reconstruct, but eyeballed the length using the longer right side of the stem where a portion of the button was still intact. Before moving ahead, I would like to mention here that I had applied this mix in layers, over the week, to achieve sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding while shaping the button and achieving the correct stem profile. While the stem repair was set aside to cure, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel repairs. There was practically no cake in the chamber and so I directly used a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to sand out the traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage. This was followed by cleaning the mortise by scraping away at the dried gunk with my fabricated spatula and followed it up with further cleaning using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This eliminated all traces of old smells from previous usage.Continuing with the cleaning regimen, using a soft brass wired brush I gently scraped away the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. With a hard bristled tooth brush and dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the sandblast finish on the stummel and the rim top. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth and set it aside to dry out naturally. The stummel looks fresh and clean. The damages to the outer rim edge are now clearly visible in the above pictures after the cleaning. At this point in the restoration, I was faced with the dilemma of whether or not should I top the bowl to address the rim damage. The issue was recreating the sandblast on the rim top after topping. I put this question to my friends from pipe restoration community on FB. Mr. Steve and Mr. Mark Domingues suggested that I stain the damaged areas with a stain pen and if this does not work, topping is the only recourse available. I went ahead with the suggestion and stained the damaged rim edges and rim top using Mahogany color stain pen. After it had dried completely, I again stained it with dark brown stain pen to darken it further. I set it aside for several hours before working on it any further. Here is how the rim appeared at this stage. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful contrasting hues colors that are unique to this sandblast pipe, on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. I had hoped that the balm would work its magic on the filled area and help in blending it a bit, and in this instance, the blend was perfect. The damaged surface has blended to an extent that it appears like a sandblasted surface. Sometimes in life, the most difficult issues have the simplest solutions!! I set the stummel aside and turned my attention to the stem repair. The fill had cured nicely and I moved ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. This time around it was more  challenging as I had set for my self the aim of creating a fish tail shape (or rather as close a match to fish tail as possible), a straight thin slot and a concave shape to the button end as seen on original stems. Learning from past mistakes, I marked a straight line for the slot orientation and using only the tip of the pointed needle file, I carved out the slot. I followed it up by sanding with folded pieces of 180 grit sand papers to laboriously shape and widen the slot, always taking care to maintain a straight line. Once I was satisfied with the profile of the slot, I went ahead and shaped the button by first achieving a rough shape with a flat head needle file and there after fine tuning it by sanding it down with a 220 grit sand paper. Unfortunately, being so engrossed in this process made me forget to take pictures of the progess of these stages.

For a better blending, I further sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite. The repairs have blended in very well and the stem now looks shiny black and beautiful. The internals of the stem was once again cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners to clear the airway of all the debris resulting due to the sanding. The finished stem is shown below. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to my local machine which is similar to the Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant. I cannot thank enough my friends Mr. Dal Stanton, Mr. Sam Vior, Mr. Victor Naddeo and Mr. Steve for helping me to research and complete this lovely 1964 made Dunhill Shell billiard.


Repairing a Broken Shank on a Sandblast Kriswill Golden Clipper 1803 Apple

Blog by Lee Neville

Over the past few months I have been in correspondence with Lee via email. He picked up a couple of pipes for me at a local antique shop in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and sent them to me. We have fired emails back and forth on restoration questions and issues. He also included Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes in the conversations and we had a great time. Earlier this week he sent Charles and me an email about a restoration of a pipe that he did using the internal tube to repair a broken shank. He did a great job on the restoration and the description of the work so I asked him if I could post it on rebornpipes. He was glad to have me do so. Thanks Lee for your work and write up welcome to rebornpipes as a contributor! – Steve

Thought I would share my latest pipe rehabilitation effort of a Kriswill Golden Clipper – Model 1803.  This is the sandblast variant of the 03 shape. It showed up in the Winnipeg EBay lot I purchased and was in two pieces – stem (still attached to its snapped off shank) and the bowl itself.  I tried to remove the stem from the snapped off shank – without luck –  stuck tight. The bowl and shank had broken crookedly transversely across the shank – the break measured between 4mm and 8mm from the bowl body. I’m thinking it occurred when someone tried to pry and twist the stem out of the shank while holding on to the bowl.  The tars holding the stem fast held while the shank and bowl parted ways. In all, a stark example why one cannot use the bowl for leverage when trying to removing a reluctant stem from a shank.  Cue Yosemite Sam screaming “Whoa Mule! Whoooooahhh!!!”.There is also a crusty / gummy residue on the broken bowl and shank surfaces indicating a previous failed glue repair. I’m excited and eager to try my hand at a hidden brass tubing reinforcement glued up inside the shank & bowl as part of this repair.

Bowl Rehab
The bowl was packed full of foul smelling crust. The bowl edge is quite ragged – burned and charred in one area, a bit of a gouge just below the rim in another, damage/wear from dottle banging etc. around the periphery. As I could get to the bottom of the bowl from the exterior of the bowl,  I gently used a dental pick to pry manky tars, oils and burgey from the smoke channel. No doubt this build-up led to the welded-on stem and the situation at hand.

I scraped the carbon out of the bowl with a flexible knife blade, then removed the rest of the crust with some twists with a dowel covered with 220 grit sandpaper to work back to briar. I then used 320 / 400 grits over the dowel to finish the bowl interior to smooth. Luckily, there are no cracks, burnouts in this bowl.

I filled the gouge below rim edge at the 11 o’clock position with CA glue and briar dust to build this rim area up – this minimized the following topping effort. I didn’t want to significantly alter the geometry of the bowl.  Minimal is the key word here. Re-topping was followed by polishing the rim up to 4000 grit with micro mesh pads. I re-stained the rim with a stain marker to bring it back into line with the existing stain value.

I finished up the bowl exterior by scrubbing it gently with cotton pads moistened with water, then repeated with pads wetted with alcohol. Looking good.

Re-attaching the shank to the bowl
I soaked the stuck-together shank and stem in isopropyl alcohol overnight.  They easily pulled apart between the jaws of two pairs of padded pliers. Solvents 1 – Evil 0! The shank remnant stunk with old badness. I hit it with brushes and q-tips and was able to clean it out in 15 minutes of vigorous action.  I’ve cleaned dirty shotguns stem to stern quicker than this 25mm length of broken briar shank!

I used a dental pick to remove most of the remnants of dried glue from the shank and the bowl so they’d fit as closely possible when re-glued.  I then used the CA + spray accelerator product from Inoteca to glue the bowl to the shank. Applying a very thin layer of medium viscosity CA glue to both surfaces, I pressed them together, then hit the assembly with the spray accelerator.  Instant activation and hold. I left this overnight to cure, then the following evening removed the squeeze out from the joint with needle files.  This was followed with filling gaps in the glue line with briar dust and CA glue, needle filing and light sanding.

I applied random dabs of stain marker pen (dark oak and mahogany) to colour match the briar dust/CA fills around the glue line, then I blended these re-stained areas into the stummel with a q-tip moistened with alcohol.

Now for the hidden brass tubing reinforcement.  I bought a length of 5/32″ OD brass tube from a local hobby shop as its ID would be close to the stock diameter of the draught hole post repair. I measured approximately 14mm of briar body between the opening of the draught hole in the bowl bottom to the edge of the broken shank still attached to the bowl.  This meant I could use 20mm of tubing to span the break between the bowl body through the shank to the bottom of the stem mortise. The tube reinforcement will span the break area 10mm each way.

I cut a 20mm length of tubing and roughed up its external surface with needle files to provide additional physical bonding for the epoxy.  Inserting the bowl into my small Dremel bench vise with shank pointing to the sky, I drilled out the shank using a 11/64” bit to the desired depth. This 11/64” hole will allow room for the epoxy to fix the reinforcing length of tubing to the shank wall.

I gently flared one end of the brass tubing using a center punch. This flared end will drop and seat against the stem end of the 11/64” hole drilled in the shank.  I then mixed up a bit of JBWeld, generously smeared the exterior of the tubing with it, then threaded a vaselined pipe cleaner through the tube/glue mess.  The pipe cleaner functions as a guide for the tube to slide into the shank and will prevent epoxy from sealing the draught hole at the end of the tubing through to its opening at the bottom of the bowl.

I pressed everything home with a length of Q-tip stick and was gratified to feel the tubing seat its flared end at the top of the 11/64” hole drilled through the shank mortise.  I pulled the pipe cleaner through the tubing from the bowl end – ensuring any epoxy squeeze-out was cleared from the bottom of the bowl. I used Q-tips to remove any epoxy squeeze-out in the stem tenon area of the shank and left the epoxy to set overnight.

The picture below shows the flared end of the hidden tubing snugly glued below the bottom of the shank mortise in the stummel.Cleaning up the stem
The stem was horribly packed full – poking and prodding with brushes, pipe cleaners and picks, I worked both ends of the stem until it was clear. Then it went into an oxyclean bath to lift the oxidation.  Luckily, the Kriswill stamp was in good shape.  The next day, I removed the lifted oxidation with soft toothbrushes, 400 grit wet n’ dry and then moved quickly through the micro mesh pads through to 12000 grit, it came up bright and shiny.

Finishing the pipe
I slathered on a thick coating of Howards Feed and Wax (beeswax, carnauba and citrus oils) and rubbed it into the stummel to feed the thirsty briar. Gently buffed with a microfibre cloth.  I also treated the bowl to a coating of maple syrup + activated charcoal. I dabbed a bit of Testors white enamel into the stamping on the stem, then wiped the excess away – the Kriswill stamp is now very noticeable.

The stem married up to the stummel with little fuss – It looks good.  It’s a lovely pipe – a small rusticated apple with a delicate shank and stem. It’s a feather-light lovely example of Danish pipe making from the late 1960’s – early 1970s. I’m really looking forward to sparking it up.Again, thank you both (Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes Blog and Steve Laug of rebornpipes blog) for your exhaustive documentation around this procedure – I would have been in quite the pickle without your guidance. (I wish you both the very best in your adventures.)

Photos of the finished restoration are shown below. I am happy with the finished pipe and enjoying the fruit of my work.

The pipe dimensions are as follows:
Kriswill Golden Clipper – Model 1803
Bowl Height: 40mm
Bowl opening: 22mm
Max depth of bowl: 35mm
Max Bowl diameter: 38mm
Length of stummel: 65.28 mm
Diameter of shank: 11mm
Length of stem: 89 mm
Over all length of pipe: 155mm

Top View – showing the topping and stain blend.  I did radius the inside of bowl ever so slightly to bring it back into round.Right side of bowl – Detail. Bottom of bowl – showing rustication.Pipe in profile (the near side or right side) – love the proportions of this pipe – gee whiz they made them graceful back in the day!Pipe in profile (the far side or left side).