Daily Archives: October 20, 2021

Restoring a Comoy’s Grand Slam Pipe 233 Straight Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to dig deep in the boxes of pipes I have here to work on. I chose a Comoy’s Grand Slam Pipe Straight Bulldog. It is a beautifully grained Comoy’s Bulldog that was purchased from a Portland Oregon estate sale on 08/16/17. It really is a pipe of Pipe Smoking History. The stamping is the significant marker that points this out for me. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads COMOY’S [over] Grand Slam [over] Pipe. On the right side it has the shape number 233 next to the bowl/shank junction and that is followed by a Comoy’s COM stamp that reads Made in London in a circle [over] England. On the underside there was a *7 stamped at the stem/shank junction. There was a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the rim cap and top. The bowl was heavily caked with 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 oxidized, calcified and there were tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. There was a three part inlaid C on the left of the taper stem. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He 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 and down the side. It is hard to know if there is damage to the inner edge of the bowl because of the lava coat. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the condition of the stem. He took photos of the stamping on both sides and underside of the shank. They read as noted above. You can also see the 3 part C logo on the left side of the taper stem.   I looked on Pipephil’s site for information on the Comoy’s Grand Slam Pipe 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 on the second pipe in the capture is the same as the one I am working on. The *7 is the size of the washer on the end of the stinger. (The pipe in hand is missing the stinger apparatus.)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.

Made in London England

Appears in two versions. This is again stamped in a circle with “MADE” at the top, “IN” in the middle, and “LONDON” at the bottom, with “ENGLAND” in a straight line beneath. It can be assumed that this stamp was first used in the export drive in the early 1950s. On a Bulldog Sandblast from the early 50s the Comoy name no. 2 above was used together with “MADE IN LONDON” over “ENGLAND”. There are no known examples of pre-WW II Comoy’s stamped in this way. The second version is the same as above but in a “rugby ball ” shape. This shape is verified on Comoy´s “Extraordinaire” pipes.

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.

Jeff had done his usual thorough clean up of the bowl and stem. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer to remove the remaining cake back to briar. He followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remnants of cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He 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. He rinsed it under running water and dried it off with a soft cloth. The pipe was remarkably clean considering where it began! The rim top looked much better. There was still some darkening on the top and inner bevel as well as some down the cap on the bowl. It was definitely an improvement but more would need to be done. The stem looked better as well but the tooth marks are very visible in the photos below. I took photos of the stamping on the shank sides. They read as noted above.  I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the proportions of the pipe. It is a beauty.Now it was time to start working on the pipe. I decided to work on the rim top and edges to try to remove the darkening that was present. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the top and edges and try to lighten them. I am pretty pleased with the way it turned out.  I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – dry 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 it.    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 10 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem on both sides with the flame of a lighter. I was able to lift many of the tooth marks. I filled in the remaining tooth marks on the button surface and just ahead of it on the underside with clear super glue and set the stems aside to let the repairs cure.    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. This 50s era Comoy’s Grand Slam Pipe 233 Straight Bulldog 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 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 Grand Slam Bulldog 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 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 38 grams/1.34 ounces. I will be putting this older Comoy’s Bulldog on the rebornpipes store shortly if you want to add it to your collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

The Mystery of Blue Hill

Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

The title sounds like a Hardy Boys story, does it not? Well, it is not that exciting. Next on the chopping block is a peculiar pipe: it is both superbly made and unattractively painted. In addition, its true origin is unknown. I actually acquired the pipe from Steve. I bought a grab bag of pipes from him a long time ago and this was among them. Fortunately for me, Steve’s legendary pipe-cleaning brother, Jeff, had already done his work on this. Although I do not care for the paint scheme, this is a beautiful pipe: excellent proportions, handsome manufacture, and undoubtedly a good smoker.There is one other peculiarity about this pipe: no information about its history and origins! The has a clear marking of “Blue Hill” on the shank of the stummel and the word “France” on the stem. Yes, we can obviously assume that the pipe was made in France, but there is nothing to be found on the name “Blue Hill”. My uneducated guess is that it was made for an English or American company – perhaps even a tobacco shop. As an aside, there is a different pipe maker who uses the name “Blue Hill Crafts”, but he has no connection to this pipe. All the usual sources (Pipedia, Pipephil, et cetera) have no listing for “Blue Hill”. Even rebornpipes had nothing. Alas, we do not know who made this pipe, but whoever it was – they did a good job. If you have any information about Blue Hill, please do let me know.Thanks to Jeff’s stellar clean-up work, there were not too many issues that needed to be addressed. The stem had a few nicks and dents, but nothing catastrophic. Similarly, the stummel had a bump or two, here and there, but the only major problem was the two-tone colour pattern. I think two-tones can and do work well on some pipes, but I felt that this pipe needed a deep, rich brown to make it look its best. The photos of the original colour do not show the reddish tinge very well. Trust me, the pipe looked much more red than it does here. The stem was first on my list. I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the tooth marks. This was reasonably successful in raising the dents. I did not need to clean the insides of the stem (thanks again, Jeff), so the stem went straight for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing sludge off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub to remove the leftover oxidation. Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I built up the small dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. I then sanded it down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld the repair seamlessly into the stem. This ensures that it keeps its shape and looks like it should. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. On to the stummel, and I figured that it would be fairly straightforward to remove the old, ugly stain. Boy, was I mistaken! My first plan was to dunk the stummel in an alcohol bath overnight. This will often loosen, thin, or remove stains from pipes. Twenty-four hours later, nothing happened! The stain looked just as it did when it went into the bath. That was not in the plans. So, time to escalate the situation: I used acetone and rubbed it vigorously into the stain. After many minutes of scrubbing, nothing happened (again)! I then realized that I was going to have to use the nuclear option: soaking overnight in acetone. The next day dawned and there was, at long last, some evidence of progress on the stain. Not a lot had been shed, but enough to show me that I was on the right track. I then went to the sink with the stummel, some acetone, a wire brush, and some gloves. I set about scrubbing the dickens out of that pipe and finally succeeded in getting that silly stain off. Most of the black remained in the lower recesses of the rustication, but I actually liked that – it added some character. Having completed that, I was able to address a couple of small nicks on the side of the stummel, just below the rim. I dug out my iron and a damp cloth to try and raise the nicks. The hot and moist steam created can often cause the wood to swell slightly and return to shape. There was some movement – not a lot, but it was better than doing nothing. I filled the remaining divots with cyanoacrylate adhesive.

Now, with the nicks filled, it was time to sand down the stummel. Just like the stem, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to sand everything smooth – although, as the photos show, I masked the rusticated parts so as not to disturb them. A light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain. Whoops! I then noticed that the opening of tobacco chamber was not in perfect shape. It required some “rounding”. I took a solid wooden sphere, wrapped sandpaper around it, and gently sanded the opening of the tobacco chamber. This both corrected the problem and added a beautiful beveled edge to the pipe. I went back over it with the Micromesh pads and made everything lovely again. Naturally, one of the main purposes of this pipe restoration was to correct the colour problem. In order to create some external beauty to this pipe, I opted for aniline dye. I applied some of Fiebing’s Medium Brown Leather Dye and then applied flame in order to set the colour. In fact, I added a second helping of the dye, just to make sure the colour was nice and rich. Worked like a charm! This lovely, warm brown is just what I was hoping for. Then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of Halcyon II wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood look quite spiffy. This is a wonderfully crafted pipe and somehow has a very masculine feel to it. Although I never did find out who made it, clearly the pipe was superbly completed. The draught hole has been bored perfectly; the heel of the bowl is exacting; the wood is thick and solid (but not heavy). In short, this is a pipe worth owning, so I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the American (US) pipe section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 142 mm/5 1/2 inches; height 52 mm/2 inches; bowl diameter 35 mm/ 1 1/3 inches; chamber diameter 21 mm/3/4 of an inch. The mass/weight of the pipe is 53 grams/1.86 ounces. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.