Blog by Steve Laug
The pipe on the work table now came to us from one of Jeff’s pipe hunts on the Oregon Coast back in 2018. It turns out that it is the last pipe that I will have worked on with my Supervising Buddy Spencer, my Black and Tan Cocker Spaniel. While I was working on the rim top this morning he slipped over the rainbow bridge curled at my feet in his usual place. I will miss his presence and his wet nose nudging me for a treat…
This is a big pipe at 9 ½ inches long and 2 ½ inches tall. It is stamped on the heel of the bowl and reads Comoy’s [over] Extraordinaire followed by the shape number 804. It is a handful that is for sure. The deeply rusticated finish has a beauty of its own. It is a dirty pipe with a lot of dust and debris deep in the rusticated grooves of the rustication. The rim top is covered in a coat of lava overflowing from the thick cake in the bowl. When you realize how big the bowl is and then see that the cake fills in over half of the bowl you can see how thick it is. The cake is rock hard and will be a bear to ream out. It is hard to know the condition of the inner edge but the front outer edge has some damage from being knocked hard on something to remove the dottle from the bowl. The stem is probably a replacement and does not have an inset C on the side or topside. It is an old one in that it has the same feel as the Solid Rubber stems. It is oxidized, calcified and has deep tooth marks on the underside near the button and chatter on the top side. It will be an interesting looking pipe once it is cleaned up. Jeff took these photos before he started his cleanup work.The next photo Jeff took gives a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the rim top. It is one well-loved pipe and the previous pipeman must have smoked it all the time. It is a good sign that it is a great smoker. He also took photos of the stem to show the oxidation and the toot marks on the surface. The top side is in better condition than the underside. He took photos of the sides and heel of the pipe to show the overall condition of the finish on the bowl. It is a deep swirling rustication. The next photo shows the stamping on the heel of the bowl. It reads as noted above. The stamping is readable but the Extraordinaire and shape number 804 are faint.I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-comoy.html) to look up the Extraordinaire line. I did a screen capture of the second on the line and have included it below. The sidebar on the left of the picture below reads: The “Extraordinaire” designation was given to either oversized pipes or to unusual pipes. This pipe fits both designations – it is large and it is unusual.I turned to Pipedia’s section on Comoy’s (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Comoy%27s). It gives a great history of the brand and toward the bottom of the page it had the picture below. It shows a contrast between the Extraordinaire 804 and a Group 4 sized Dunhill 120 for comparison. The caption below the photo says that this pipe is a 1930’s Comoy’s pipe.
Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top had some slight darkening on the back of the bowl and some damage to the inner edge on the back. The outer edge is rough on the front and the right side from knocking the pipe against something hard. It is hard to know if the rim top was rusticated or smooth from the damage on it. The back rim top looks like it may have been rusticated. The stem surface had deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the heel of the bowl. It reads as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge and the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to minimize the damage. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage to the rim top and outer edges of the bowl. I used some clear super glue and briar dust to rebuild the front outer edge and the right side edge and then retopped the bowl. With the top and rim edge cleaned up I used my Dremel and the burrs shown in the photo below to rusticate the rim and try to approximate what was visible in the photos above. I finished the rustication with the wire brush on the Dremel as well. When I had it way I wanted I stained it with three stain pens mixed together to give the stain depth – Black, Walnut and Maple. The second photo below shows the rim top. What do you think? I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the rim top, bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks on the top and underside with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the repair cured I used a rasp and a small file to flatten the repairs and recut the button edge on both sides. I sanded the stem smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to further blend them into the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing with 400 grit wet dray sand paper. It was in very good condition so 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 restoration is for you Spencer, my fellow curmudgeon and friend… I already miss you greatly and find myself looking over where you used to lay and reaching for a treat and a rub behind your ears… The pipe is a big one with a big personality just like yours buddy. It is a Comoy’s Extraordinaire 804 Bent Billiard with a vulcanite taper stem. It is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and lightly buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 Extraordinaire is a real handful and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 9 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 43g/1.52oz. This is one is a keeper and will go in my rack in memory of my old boy… Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.