Fresh Life for a Comoy’s Marble Arch 78 Apple with a Military Bit

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction from St. Albans, West Virginia, USA.  The pipe is classic looking Comoy’s Apple that has a marbleized acrylic shank extension.  The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Comoy’s [over] Marble Arch. On the right side of the shank it has the Comoy’s COM stamp Made in London in a circle over England followed by the shape number 78. The stain is a mix of browns and blacks that contrasts well with the marble like shank extension. The finish was very dirty with grime ground into the finish making it hard to see beyond that to the grain underneath. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava onto the rim top and edges. It was hard to know at this point the condition of the rim edges. The stem was oxidized and calcified and looked to be stuck in the shank extension. There were not many tooth marks or chatter but there was a large chip of vulcanite out of the button on the underside. The stem had the inlaid three part C logo on the left side. 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. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the condition of both sides. The underside has a large chip missing out of the button end.     Jeff took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. It has thick grime on the surface and ground into the finish.  Jeff took photos of the stamping on the shank sides to capture it. It is very clear and readable.  The next photos show the fit of the stem in the shank extension and the tars and gunk that locked in place. The stem has the older 3 part C inset on the left side.  When Jeff turned the stem to remove it from the shank the shank extension came off instead. The glue on the tenon that held it in place had dried and the extension was loose.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. The chipped button on the underside of the stem was clean but very visible. 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 other than some slight darkening there is no other damage. The bowl is spotless. The stem is lightly oxidized and has some major damage on the underside at the button. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. At this point I tried to remove the stem from the shank extension and was surprised with the shank extension came off and the stem was not moveable. I tried to twist it and it was stuck solid in the extension.I decided to start my work on this pipe by separating the shank extension and the stem. I put it in the freezer overnight and it had no effect. It was still stuck. I used a folded pipe cleaner to drizzle acetone down the joint of the extension and the stem. I continued that process for the better part of a day. Finally last evening I was able to wiggle the stem free from the extension. Both were incredibly dirty at the junction. It was going to take a bit of work to get a clean fit.  I cleaned out the shank and then coated the tenon on the shank extension with all-purpose glue and then turned it into the shank. I wiped off the excess glue and set it aside to cure. Once the glue cured I cleaned out the inside of the shank extension with alcohol and cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It was smooth and clean.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 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.    I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. It was time to work on the broken off part of the button. I put a piece of clear packing tape on a piece of cardboard. I opened two capsules of charcoal powder and mixed it with some Locktite 380 Black CA glue. I mixed them together with a dental pick and a spatula.  I coated a folded cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the button. I filled in the damaged area with the mixture of charcoal powder and super glue.

Once the repair cured I flattened it with a rasp and a small 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 sanded the repaired area and the rest of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the button edges.  I started polishing the stem 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 Marble Arch 78 Apple 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 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inch. The weight of the pipe is 38grams/1.34oz.  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.


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