Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from a pipe hunt that Jeff and his wife recently did in Utah, USA. The pipe is interesting looking rusticated billiard that is not my favourite but from the looks of it was someone else’s. The rim top is actually quite clean but has a lot of scratches in the surface. On the heel of the bowl it is stamped Comoy’s [over] Blazon. That is followed by Made in London England and the shape number 332. The pipe has a slashes carved all over the surface and I am wondering if the Blazon name is a clue to what it supposed to be – perhaps flames? The stain is a mix of browns and blacks that also add to the idea of flames. The finish was very dirty with dust in all of the rustication, making it hard to see beyond that to the grain that pokes through underneath that. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava onto the inner rim edge. It was hard to know at this point the condition of the rim edges. The stem was oxidized and there were deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. The stem did not have the characteristic C logo or stamp. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the condition of both. It was thick and hard cake but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. There are a lot of nicks and scratches in the surface of the rim top. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface and button. The tooth marks are quite deep on both sides of the stem. Jeff took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The rustication is unique and dirty but it is interesting. This is another tactile finish that will be interesting as it heats up during a smoke. Jeff took two photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank to capture all of it. It is very clear and readable other than the faint Made in London England stamp mid shank. This pipe was a real mess like many of the pipes we work on. I was curious to see what it would look like when I unpacked it. I was surprised at how good it looked. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem 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 on the bowl looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked much better and the inner and outer edges were looking good. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked better other than some light oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took photos of the condition of the rim top and stem before I started working. The rim top looks better than before and the damage is very obvious to both the inner edge and top. The crevices and valleys of the rustication are clean and look great. The bowl is spotless. The stem is lightly oxidized and has some deep tooth marks on both sides and the button itself. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the heel and the shank. It is far more clear and readable in person than in this photo.I took the bowl and stem apart and took a photo of the pipe to show the look of the pipe.I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the rim top and inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once finished it looked far better. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar really took on a shine by the final pads. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain and the separate finishes really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for 10-15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl really looks good at this point. I set it aside and worked on the stem. The shank end was coned and did not fit well against the stem. I have included the photo of the fit before I went ahead and worked on it. I have drawn a box around the area in red in the photos below. I decided to press a brass decorative band on the end of the shank to clean up the fit. I heated it and pressed it on the shank. It took care of the damage and the stem fit well against it.I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the tooth dents and marks with Black Super Glue and set it aside for the repairs to cure. Once they cured I flattened them with a file. I cleaned up the repaired areas with 220 sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a heavier touch with Blue Diamond 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the combination of rustication and smooth finishes. The black vulcanite stem stands out as a shiny black contrast to the colours of the bowl. This dark stained Comoy’s Blazon 332 Billiard must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 45grams/1.59oz. This is one that will go on the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. 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 generation.