Daily Archives: September 6, 2020

Restoring a Longchamp France Leather Clad Opera Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen to work on was an interesting Longchamp Leather Clad Opera Pipe. It came to me from a friend, Lee who wanted me to have a look at it and clean it up. He wrote me the following email.

Steve,

I’m reaching out because I’ve recently procured a set of Longchamp pipes, and am interested to get your input on how to remove the ‘stinger’ in one of the pipes, in addition to sending the other pipe for you to restore (it’s in overall decent shape, but I love the work you did on the ‘oval’ bowl, and would like my pipe to be similarly treated). So… do you have any guidance on stinger removal, and can you provide information on your lead-time and address to which I ship the pipe I’d like restored?

Merci! –  Lee

I wrote Lee and asked him to send me some photos of the pipe and give a description of the issues that he saw with the pipe. I wanted to know if there were any issues that he could see. I have included the three photos that he sent and the description of what he saw needed to be done.

Hey, Steve – per request, photos below – first, the pipe I’d like you to tune up (3 photos) Note, there’s a small crack at the bottom of the mortise – couldn’t get good resolution of it – if you can ’save’ it, great (I know that part is deeply problematic) – otherwise, cleaning up the stem, cleansing the chamber, removing the stinger, and conditioning the leather would be great – let me know. — Lee

I wrote him back and told him to send me the pipe. Lee sent the pipe and I received it on Thursday. It arrived in a Longchamp France Leather Covered Set Box. The box was made for two. I think that he probably has the other pipe but the one in the box was the Opera that he wanted me to deal with. I took photos of the case and the pipe in the case when I opened it up. I have included them below. It is a nice looking leather case with white satin lining on the lid and a grey felt base. The oval bowled pipe had a thin cake in the bowl and a light coat of lava on the rim top. The shank was tarry and oily with black grime. The leather had a few scuff marks on the sides. It was stamped on the leather on the left side of the shank. The stamping was readable. It read Longchamp [over] France. The vulcanite taper stem had a race horse and jockey stamped on the left side.  The stitching on the leather was in excellent condition but the leather itself was a bit lifeless. The stem was quite clean with no oxidation or calcification. There were light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. I took photos of the pipe before I started cleanup work. They tell the story of the pipe that I was going to work on. I took a photo of the rim top to show the interior the oval bowl and cake in the bowl and the darkening on the inner edge. The stem is clean other than having tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button.   I removed the stem from the shank to have a look at the shank to see the crack that Lee had spoken of and found that there were actually two cracks – one on the top and one on the underside of the mortise. I have circled them in red in the photo below.  I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It read as noted above. The stamping is clear and readable.I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is an interesting looking pipe. Lee had removed the stinger from the tenon and it was threaded as I had suggested.I cleaned the leather with KIWI Leather No Buff Cream Polish. It is a product that revives and nourishes the leather. The product is applied with the sponge applicator that is integrated under the cap. The leather looked very good at this point. I scraped the oval bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove the cake in the bowl. Once I had it cleaned out I wiped the bowl down with a cotton pad to remove the dust and debris from the reaming. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth. The rim top looks very good after the polishing. I was able to remove all of the debris on the inner edge as well as on the rim top. I rubbed the rim top down with Before & After Restoration Balm and buffed it off after about 10 minutes. It works to enliven and protect the briar. I cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. Once I removed the debris the pipe smelled clean.  Repairing the cracked shank on a leather clad pipe is a real challenge. Fortunately the leather is very tight around the shank end. I applied some clear super glue to the cracks on the inside of the shank – both the top and bottom of the mortise. I let the glue seep into the cracks and sealed it with a top coat of glue. I smoothed it out with the tooth pick to leave the inside of the shank smooth.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the leather with my fingertips. While it was made to clean, enliven and protect briar I have also used it effectively on both briar and meerschaum. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to working on the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.     I touched up the horse and jockey stamp on the left side of the taper stem with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I rubbed it on with a tooth pick and worked it into the stamp. I buffed it out with a cotton pad. The finished racing horse came out looking very good.I have never really liked leather clad pipes but there is something about this oval bowled Opera pipe is a great looking pipe. This LONGCHAMP FRANCE OPERA Pipe is very nice looking and it is ready to head back to Lee. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the refreshed leather looks like with the polished briar rim top. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem is a beautiful touch. The pipe LONGCHAMP OPERA feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 wide x 1 ½ inches long, Chamber diameter: ½ inch wide x ¾ of an inch long. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be heading back to Lee later this week. I think he will enjoy adding this beauty to his collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Cleaning up a GBD Made Rota 9487 Square Shank Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is a smooth Peterson’s System Standard Sitter that was incredibly dirty. The grime on the finish pretty much obscured the grain around the bowl sides. The contrast of the dark stain made the grain stand out clearly. Jeff and picked it from a lady in Slate Hill, New York, USA. It was stamped on the left side of the shank. The stamping was readable. It read ROTA’s. On the right side of the shank it was stamped London England [over] the shape number, 9487. It was in worn condition when he brought it to the table. The finish was dirty with grime ground into the briar sides and rim. There was a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the crowned rim top and inner edge of the bowl. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe.   Jeff took photos of the rim top to show the interior the bowl and the beveled inner edge. It is heavily caked with a thick lava overflow. The stem is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.     Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show grain that was around this bowl. It is a nice looking pipe.  He took a photo of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is as noted above – on the left side it reads ROTA’S. On the right side it is stamped London England over shape number 9487. The shape number and right side stamping tells me that I am probably dealing with a GBD made pipe. I turned to the article on GBD Shapes. (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). I have included a screen capture of the shape 9487 which is described as an apple with a straight shank that is square. The description matches the pipe that I am working on.I turned to a previous blog I had written on a ROTA’S pipe that I had restored. That one was a long shank Bulldog (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/04/20/restoring-a-bit-of-a-mystery-rotas-made-in-london-england-long-shank-bulldog/). I quote a section of that post below.

I think I had found a good possibility for the maker of the pipe for whoever ROTA’S is. Though the ROTA version is  a little longer the shape of the bowl and the shank is identical and the lay out of the stem matches as well. Someone suggested that ROTA’S was a company or shop but I exhausted that online as well. So the ROTA’S stamp remains a mystery but I think the pipe itself was made by GBD. Perhaps someone reading this will make the link for us and let us all know.

I knew that I was dealing with a GBD Made in London England with a shape number that identifies it as a GBD square shank apple. I have been unable to identify ROTA’S  but at least I know who made the pipe. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better. The stamping on the side of the stem was very light and the white that had remained was gone. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top and edges show a darkening but are not damaged. It should clean up really well. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the remaining oxidation and tooth marks on the surface and on the button.I took photos of the stamping on the left and right side of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is clear and readable.   I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has some great grain around the bowl and shank.I started my restoration on this pipe with polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth. It was in decent shape so this is all that was needed. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I scrubbed the surface of the vulcanite saddle stem with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleanser to remove the remaining oxidation in the creases and on the saddle portion. It removed most of it and the rest would come off with some sanding with micromesh. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.     I am excited to finish this GBD Made ROTA’S 9487 Square shank Apple. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping through on the bowls sides and rim top. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem was beautiful. This mixed grain on the smooth finish GBD Made ROTA’s Apple Sitter is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman. 

A Tale of the Rebirth of 3 Pipes – Pipe #2 – a Comoy’s Tradition 3591 Panel Prince


Blog by Steve Laug

By default this nice little Prince moved to the third slot while waiting for the stem repair to cure. It is now finished and it is a really nice looking pipe. Give the blog a read.

Last week I received an email from a fellow named Stanley who had gotten my info from the local Pipe and Cigar shop. He wrote that he had a trio of Comoy’s pipes that needed to be worked on. Two of them were Grand Slam Pipes and one was a Tradition. We connected via email and he said he would drop them off this week for me to work on. I am including part of his email so you have a sense of what I would be working on. I am also including the two photos that he attached to the email for me to see.

Hey Steve,

I had recently the chance to talk to a very kind and excellent gentleman over at City Cigar, I unfortunately was never able to get his name. However I mentioned I was looking for some replacement stems and he gave me your info…

…The pipes in question are attached in photos, I’ve never done any sort of pipe restoration in my life but I have attempted to take the cake down with a pocket knife. If you’d do it, would you be able to do a ream/clean on the three, as well as deal with the stems?

If possible, I’d prefer to save the original stems by repairing them, but it seems to me that most people remedy this problem with a replacement stem. Whatever you think is best I will go with.

If you think that I’d be better off without the stinger insert in the shape 64, then would you be able to remove it? I’m afraid I’d break the stem if I tried haha.

The 484b also seems to have a crack starting near the “Comoy’s Grand Slam” part of the shank, where it meets the stem. Is it possible to deal with this?

That is all! Please let me know what you think!

Thanks!  Stanley Last night Stanley stopped by and dropped off the three pipes. I took photos of pipes as there were when I opened the bag they were in. All three pipes were very dirty but the reaming had been started as noted in his email. The stems all had bite throughs on the underside. The bottom pipe in the photo below is a Grand Slam Pipe shape 64 Billiard. The stem has a 3 part C on the left side. The middle pipe is a Tradition 3591 Prince with 8 flattened panels on the bowl near the top. The stem also has a bite through and a missing divot. It also has a 3 part C on the left side. The top pipe in the photo is also Grand Slam Pipe 484B with a replacement stem that also has a bite through. The shank is also cracked on the left side.The last pipe left to work on in this threesome is the Tradition 3591 Panel Prince. It is a beautifully grained Comoy’s Prince that really is a pipe of Pipe Smoking History. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads COMOY’S [over] Tradition. On the right side it has the shape number 3591 (the stamp is faint) next to the bowl/shank junction and that is followed by a Comoy’s COM stamp is worn away. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl had been scraped but there was still a moderately heavy cake. There was an overflow of thick lava on the top of the rim and on the inner bevel of the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked like under the grime. The stem was lightly oxidized and there was a large bite through on the underside. There was a three part inlaid C on the left of the taper stem. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. I took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.   I took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. It is hard to know if there is damage to the inner edge of the bowl because of the lava coat. I also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the condition of the stem surface and the bite through on the underside.   I took photos of the stamping on both sides and underside of the shank. They read as noted above. I also included a photo of the 3 part C logo on the left side of the taper stem. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a well shaped billiard. Once the stem was off you can see the step down tenon that was on these older Comoy’s pipes.I looked on Pipephil’s site for information on the Comoy’s Tradition and found the following information I have included a screen capture (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-comoy.html). It has the three part C which dated it to 1946 and following. The stamping is the same as the one I am working on.I turned to the article on Pipedia about dating Comoy’s pipes but the style of the stamping (https://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Comoy%27s_Dating_Guide#1917_to_the_end_of_the_1930.27s_.28at_least_1938.29). I have include the section in the screen capture below that date this pipe to the 1950s.

Now the Comoy’s stamp can be found in three variants in the 1950s

  1. A simple block-letter style without serifs but with the C larger than the other letters and the apostrophe before the “S”.
  2. A return to the slightly more fancy block letters with serifs and the apostrophe. (It seems that some grades carried different stamps, or at least that the stamping changed in different years for some grades.)
  3. A simple block-letter style without serifs and without the apostrophe and with the “C” the same size as the rest of the letters. This stamp was probably not used very long.
  4. A simple block-letter style without serifs but with the apostrophe before the “S” and with the “C” the same size as the rest of the letters.

Inlaid “C”

C” was first inlaid in the side of the mouthpiece around 1919. This was a complex inlay needing three drillings. First, a round white inlay was inserted, then the centre of the white was drilled out, and a smaller round black inlay was inserted. Finally, another drilling was made to remove the open part of the “C,” and an even smaller black inlay was inserted. This inlaid “C,” known as the “three-piece C,” was continued until the Cadogan era in the 1980s. However, the “C” in the 1920s and early 30s is much thinner and more delicate than the one post-WW II.

That article gave me some helpful information regarding the pipe that I was working on. I knew that the stamping and logos identified the pipe as having been made in following WW2 and from what I can see from the above information it is a 1950s era pipe.

I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the 2nd and 3rd cutting head to remove the remaining cake back to briar. I followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remnants of cake. I sanded the walls of the bowl with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I 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. I rinsed it under running water and dried it off with a soft cloth.      I was able to remove some of the lava build up on the rim top and finished by scraping it with the Fitsall knife and then a piece of 220 grit sandpaper.  I cleaned up the bevel with the sandpaper at the same time. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank so as not to damage the stamping.   I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.    I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem repairs. I cut a piece of cardboard for a pallet, put aside two charcoal capsules, and set out the spatula and the Loctite 380 black CA glue. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the stem. I filled in the hole in the stem with a mixture of charcoal powder and Loctite. I used the spatula to fill in the bite throughs on all of the stems. I sprayed the repair with an accelerator to set the glue and removed the pipe cleaners from the stems.        I filled in the deep tooth marks on the top side of the stem with black super glue and set the stems aside to let the repairs cure. I took a photo of the three pipes at this point to give a feel for where things stood. I smoothed out the repairs with a needle file and started blending them into the surface of the stem. I sanded the remaining repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend it into the stem surface. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the vulcanite stem 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.     This 50s era Comoy’s Tradition 3591 Panel Prince with a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I did a lot of work on the bowl and repaired the bite through on the stem. The rich browns and blacks of the contrasting stains came alive with the polishing and waxing. 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 the 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 Comoy’s thin shank Panel Prince is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 1/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. He will be stopping by to pick them up soon. I am looking forward to what Stanley thinks of his repaired pipe. He had said the threesome were his favourite pipes. This is the second of  the three but the last one I finished. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!