Tag Archives: Article by Al Jones

Comoy’s Shape 42 Sandblast Restoration

By Al Jones

It’s been over two months since I’ve had a pipe on my work bench, life, work and the pandemic have made life somewhat hectic.

The shape 42, is the classic Comoy’s medium size bent billiard.  This one had the 3 piece stem stem logo, denoting a pipe made before the merger in 1981.  The pipe only made mild oxidation on the stem, some build-up on the bowl top and a few minor teeth indentions.

Below is the pipe as it was received.

I used a heat gun to work out the teeth indentions.   A worn piece of Scotch-brite was used to remove the build-up on the bowl top.  I used a piece of 2000 grit wet paper to revive the polished, beveled bowl edge.  The pipe was reamed of the modest cake and soaked with sea-salt and alcohol.

Following the soak, the shank was thoroughly cleaned with alcohol on a small bristle brush and twisted up paper towels, till they came out clean.  A bristle pipe cleaner was used to clean the inside of the stem.

The stem was mounted and oxidation removed with 800, 1,500 and 2,000 grade wet paper.  This was followed by 8,000 and 12,000 micromesh sheets.  The stem was then polished with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish.

The bowl was hand polished with Halycon wax.

Below is the finished pipe.


Get Me to the Church on Time: Restoring a Longchamp Billiard

Blog by Anthony Cook

I was browsing through Reddit’s /r/PipeTobacco sub-forum when I saw a post from a member looking for someone who could restore an old, leather-wrapped Longchamp pipe. He wanted it in time for his wedding day, which was a couple of weeks away. I could see in the accompanying photos that the pipe had a chip out of the rim and a bite through on the stem, but otherwise it appeared to be in good condition and both the leather and stitching looked solid. So, I contacted him and offered to take care of it.
The pipe arrived at my door a while later. I was happy to see that there were no hidden “gotchas” and the condition of the pipe was pretty much as it had appeared in the photos.

Here are a few photos of the pipe on arrival:Bride1



Bride4 Notice in the image below that the stem has almost no tooth chatter despite the massive bite through. What’s up with that? Weird.Bride5 The next image shows some detail photos of the stamping and the rim damage on the pipe.Bride6 The pipe needed to be cleaned up before I tackled any of the damage. This is my “getting to know you” time with the pipes that I work on. I learn a lot about the pipe as I’m cleaning it and I often discover things that I hadn’t noticed previously.

I used a very lightly damp rag to remove the tar and soot from the rim. It came away easily. You can see some light spots on the rim in the photos above. I had been afraid that they were fills (that would be a nightmare), but they turned out to be… something else. Whatever it was, it came off with the rest of the grime and I could see that the rim was in good condition other than the noted chip.

Then, I cleaned out the interior of the stem and stummel with a few cotton swabs, pipe cleaners, a shank brush and some isopropyl alcohol. The pipe was already pretty clean. So, it didn’t take much work.Bride7 I then gave the pipe a retort just to be sure and another quick scrub to remove anything that the retort had left behind.Bride8 To prevent any lingering tobacco ghosts, I stuffed cotton balls into the chamber and used a dropper to drip in alcohol until they were saturated. I then sat the stummel aside overnight to let the cotton balls and alcohol do their job. The image below shows a photo of the bowl just after adding the alcohol, another taken about three hours later, and another at about twelve hours (just before I removed the cotton).

Meanwhile, the stem had been soaking in a bath of Oxyclean and warm water. I removed it from the bath and scrubbed it with cubes cut from a Magic Eraser until all of the yellow-brown oxidation was gone and the stem was restored to a satin-black finish.Bride9 Using needle files, I cleaned up the edges of the bite through hole to remove any loose material and scored the surrounding surface to prep for the patch. Then, I inserted a wedge of thin cardboard wrapped in clear tape through the slot making sure that it completely covered the bottom of the hole. I applied several thin layers of black CA glue over the hole. I allowed each layer to dry and lightly sanded with 220-grit paper between layers to give the next one a good surface to bite into. The patch was ready to be blended in when it was slightly higher than the surrounding surface. I used needle files to carve a sharp transition at the back of the button and sanded back the patch and much of the tooth chatter with 220-grit paper.Bride10 I followed that with 320-grit and 400-grit paper to further smooth the surface, and then I lightly sanded the entire stem (carefully avoiding the logo impression) with 600-grit paper.

I wanted to repaint the stem logo to give the pipe a more complete look. So, I used a silver leaf paint pen to paint over the logo and fill the impression with paint. Once it was dry, I carefully sanded the paint from the raised surfaces with 1200-grit paper leaving behind only what was left in the impression. Some of the impression had been worn away until it was nearly level with the surrounding surface. So, I had to try to shape those by hand using a printed photo reference of the logo.Bride11 I lightly sanded the rest of the stem with 1200-grit paper, and then polished with Micro-Mesh pads 1500-grit to 12000-grit. Somehow, I forgot to get a shot of the completed stem, but you can see it in the photos of the finished pipe.

The stem was finished. So, it was time to take care of the stummel. I filled the chip in the rim with briar dust and CA glue, let it dry, and then sanded the patch back with 220-grit paper. It’s just about impossible not to sand away some of the surface surrounding a patch. So, there was a very slight depression in the patched area. To even the rim out, I lightly topped the bowl, first with 220-grit, and then with 320-grit paper.Bride12 To bring the color back and blend the patch, I applied Fiebing’s dark brown dye to the rim with a cotton swab, flamed it, and sanded the rim with 400-grit and 600-grit paper. Then I stained with medium brown and sanded with 1200-grit. I polished the rim with Micro-Mesh pads 1500-grit through 2400-grit before giving the rim a final buckskin stain, and then polished with the remaining Micro-Mesh grits. Again, I forgot to get photos of any of this. Sometimes, you just get caught up in the work, you know?

All that was left to do to get this pipe ready for the wedding day was to spiffy up the leather a bit. I used a hairdryer set to high heat and low flow to heat the leather and raise the dents. I used my fingers to knead and stretch the leather around the deeper ones to help lift them. Then, I used Fiebing’s buckskin dye to restain the scratches and a small tear on the right side of the bowl. The tear itself was then patched with a bit of leather glue. Finally, I used Fiebing’s 4 Way Care to clean and condition the leather wrapping before burnishing the ends of the leather and edging the seams.Bride13 The pipe work as finished and it was ready to be sent back for the big day. Here are a few photos of the finished pipe:Bride14



Bride17 Thanks for looking and CONGRATULATIONS, NATE!!!

Royal Oak Briars “Huntsman” Review

Blog by Al Jones

I completed my first pipe commission this week with, working with  James Aydlott, who makes “Royal Oak Briars”.  James has been showing his creations on the Bulldog Lovers Facebook page for several months.  I was very impressed with his shaping and stems, particularly with the classic shapes.   Initially I didn’t realize his pipes were branded “Royal Oak Briars”, which I had seen advertised on Micheal Lindners site, “The Pipe Rack”.  Micheal Lindners pipes are very highly regard and I met him last year in at the NYC show.  James has been working in Micheal’s shop, and in the past two years started his own line.    The connection to Micheal Lindner gave him was definitely a factor in the project, as to that point, I had not yet seen a Royal Oak pipe in person.  Thru Facebook and several pipe forums, I was able to communicate with folks who owned Royal Oak Briars and all were quite pleased and encouraged me to proceed.  James was very upfront with me and he was clear that if I didn’t care for the final product, I was under no obligation to complete the purchase.  As you will read, I was completely thrilled with the finished pipe.

James had made and shown a Comoys 498 Extraordinaire recreation (straight Chubby Rhodesian) that was sold thru The PIpe Rack.  I complimented James on his shaping and thru subsequent messages, I learned he was starting on a pipe that would be an homage to the Comoys 499 Extraordinaire.  Since I am fortunate to own that model Comoys, that immediately piqued my interest.  I let James know that I was interested and I was able to see the pipe unfold and offer some personalization along the way.   The pipe would be blasted and I requested a polished bowl top.  The last decision was the golden tan stain, which I thought turned out magnificently.

One very important detail to me on any pipe purchase is the weight of the pipe.  My 499 Extraordinaire weighs 68 grams.  I asked James if he could create the shape under 60 grams.  James nailed that request and the pipe weighs 59 grams, which coincidentally is exactly what most of my GBD 9438’s weigh, one of my benchmark shapes.

Below are some pictures of the pipe in the early and latter stages.

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The pipe is drilled perfectly with an open draw. James tells me that the draft hole is drilled with a 5/32″ bit and tapering to 1/8″ in the stem.  The pipe smokes wonderfully, with an excellent draft and no moisture.  It also packs easily, not something I always find with a pipe with an open draw.  I am very impressed with the stem work, it seems James has learned his lessons well from Micheal Lindner. The button end is beautifully funneled and the tenon also has a concave detail that I like.  James feels the funneling on the tenon helps minimize moisture buildup in the pipe.  On the button end, the height is just right for holding without being uncomfortable.  I also like how the button has a concave feature.   James uses briar from a variety of sources.  For this pipe he used briar from Mimmo that had been aged for four years.  James feels this briar made it possible for him to achieve my weight goal.  The blast is nice and craggy, which is also my preference.  We mulled over several stain choices before deciding on the golden tan.  I think it gives the pipe a wonderful glow.

James uses a bowl-coat on his pipes, made from a gelatin/activated charcoal substance.  As someone who primarily purchases estate pipes, I hate breaking in new pipes. This is my second pipe with a bowl coating of this nature, and I’m now a big fan of this process. James assured me the product was neutral and in use, I agree completely.  Smoking the new pipe, it felt like an old friend from the get-go.

Another unique aspect of a Royal Oak Briar is the stem logo, which is a blue acrylic dot in a copper ring. As an Ashton fan, I love that detail. Many artisan pipes lack a stem logo.  To me, that was another appealing aspect of the Royal Oaks Briars line.  A member of the PipesMagazine forum commented on the stem logo that “it was like the cherry on top of a sundae”.

James work combines classic shaping, solid mechanicals along with quality briar and ebonite materials.  He was easy to communicate and work with and I enjoyed our conversations.  Hopefully, we’ll meet some day at a pipe show.  I’m looking forward to having this one in a solid rotation and I can highly recommend Royal Oak Briars.

Royal_Oak_Briars_Huntsman_Gallery Royal_Oak_Briars_Huntsman_2014 (2) Royal_Oak_Briars_Huntsman_2014 (1) Royal_Oak_Briars_Huntsman_2014 (3) Royal_Oak_Briars_Huntsman_2014 (4) Royal_Oak_Briars_Huntsman_2014 (5) Royal_Oak_Briars_Huntsman_2014 (6) Royal_Oak_Briars_Huntsman_2014 (7)

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Below is a comparison picture with my 1930’s Comoys 499 Extraordinaire, the inspiration for this pipe.

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