Blog by Steve Laug
I have just over 20 more of Bob’s pipes to finish before I have completed the restoration of his estate so I am continuing to work on them. The next one from Bob Kerr’s Estate is a Royal Falcon Billiard. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs that include the biographical notes about Bob (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).
The Royal Falcon Billiard has a smooth finish and a smooth rim top. It is nicely grained with mixed grain around the bowl. It was stamped on both sides of the shank. On the left side it is stamped Royal Falcon. On the right side it has the shape number 332 next to the bowl shank junction and to the left of that it has a circular Made in England COM stamp. The finish was dirty with dust and grime ground into the bowl sides. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. The vulcanite stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup. As I mentioned above the exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like because of the lava. Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl. You can also see some of the few fills in the briar in the photos. The next photo show the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is very readable. It reads as noted above. The second photo shows the inlaid cloverleaf logo on the top of the stem. The stem was dirty, calcified and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank, Royal over Falcon as pictured to the left. On the right side it is stamped Made in London in a Circle over England. Next to that is stamped shape number 332 which is a Comoy’s number. In checking on Pipephil’s site on the Royal Falcon brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-r6.htmlit) it is clear that the pipe is definitely a Comoy’s brand. The stem has the same logo as Phil shows on his site though the pipe in hand has much fainter stamping.
I turned to Pipedia’s article on Comoy’s pipes and scrolled down to the section on seconds and the brand is listed there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Comoy%27s). There was also was a photo of a Comoy’s made Royal Falcon on the site. Underneath it is written the following: Early Comoy’s Royal Falcon with circular Made in England stamp. Thin pencil shank pipe. 1930’s? The pipe I am working on is stamped with the same Made in England circular stamp.
From the above information I knew that I was working on an early Comoy’s made Royal Falcon. Perhaps as early as the 1930s!
With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. Bob’s pipes were generally real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. I was surprised to see how well it turned out. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top shows some damage on the surface and the inner and outer edges of the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface. I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above. I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. The heavy oxidation is very visible.Now, on to my part of the restoration of this Comoy’s made Royal Falcon Billiard. I decided to clean up the damaged rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I cleaned up the inside of the bowl edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once I was finished the edge looked a lot better. I would polish out the rim top with micromesh pads. I polished the top of the bowl and the entirety of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it 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 and shoe brush to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a Bic lighter to “paint” the surface of the stem with the flame to lift the tooth marks on both sides of the stem. The heat lifted the tooth marks to the degree that was able to sand out the remaining marks on the stem surface. I sanded out the remaining tooth dents in the top and underside of the stem with 220 sand paper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I left a little oxidation around the stamp so as not to damage it more. This Comoy’s Made Royal Falcon 332 Billiard from Bob Kerr’s estate turned out to be a great looking billiard. The mixed stain brown finish on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Royal Falcon 332 Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.