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The Restoration of the First of Jennifer’s Dad’s Estate Pipes – A Comoy’s Deluxe 78


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the worktable came from the estate of George Rex Leghorn. I received an email from his daughter Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in his estate. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The first pipe I chose to work on from the lot was a Comoy’s De Luxe 78 Military Bit Apple. It had some amazing grain on the bowl sides and shank. It had a Sterling Silver ferrule on the shank end that was oxidized and blackened. It had a badly oxidized stem with tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it was dirty and tired looking. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included the three she included from this pipe. When the box arrived from Jennifer Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This Comoy’s was a real beauty underneath the grime, tarnish and oxidation on the bowl and stem. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The silver work was tarnished but still looked classy on this old timer. The ferrule was undamaged with no dents of dings that are often found on these pipes. The stem was worn looking with a lot of deep oxidation and some tooth chatter and bite marks on both sides at the button. The overall look of the pipe made me think seriously about adding it to my own collection. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage.The grain around the bowl sides and heel was quite beautiful. Lots of cross grain and birdseye that would clean up very nicely. It was a beautiful pipe.Jeff took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank. The left side was stamped Comoy’s De Luxe and the right side had the Comoy’s COM stamp and shape number. The COM stamp is a circle with Made and London arching around “in” in the centre. Underneath it read England. The shape number is 78. I am not overly familiar with this line of Comoy’s and will need to do some work to get an idea of both age and value in the hierarchy of the lines.He also took photos of the stamping on the ferrule and the three circle inlay of the C on the left side of the stem. The ferrule read HC in a box over STERLING LONDON. There were no hallmarks on the silver so I could not use those to help date the pipe. The C inlay looked very good and did not show damage to any of the three circles. Jeff did not take photos of the stem at this point. It is so easy to miss some photos in the processing of pipes.Jennifer consented to write a short tribute to her Dad for the blog. She is also sending along some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. When it arrives I will post the photo with the other blogs on his pipes and will add it to this one as well. In the meantime I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute that I can use until then. Here is her email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes.   I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name.

I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.

Jennifer

*https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.html

I turned to my usual sources for information about the De Luxe line of Comoy’s and found nothing on the pipephil website. On the Pipedia site there was nothing clearly written identifying the brand but there was a page from a Comoy’s Catalogue advertising Specialty pipes from Comoy’s that included the De Luxe (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:Comoy-Specialty.jpg). I have included a screen capture of the page for you to have a look.It describes the De Luxe as being available in 14 Army styles in walnut and sandblast finishes. These fine pipes have their beauty enhanced by heavy gauge sterling silver bands hand fitted by silversmiths. It is also available in Blue Riband and London Pride on special order. So it seems that it is a specialty item and a beautiful one at that. Does anyone know anything else about the line?

Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals 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. He was able to get most of the oxidation off of the silver ferrule as well. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top and the great condition it was in under the thick lava coat. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter in front of the button on both sides.I also took some photos of the stamping on the pipe – both sides of the shank and the Sterling ferrule. You can see the three part C in the stem as well. The ferrule is loose and will need to be glued in place again. You can see in the third photo below that it is on the top of the shank instead of aligned on the left side with the stamping on the briar.I decided to repair the tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem so it could be drying while I worked on the bowl. I cleaned the tooth marks with a cotton swab and alcohol and dried it off. I filled in the deep divots with black super glue and set the stem aside so the repairs could cure.I turned my attention to the bowl. I painted some white all-purpose glue on the shank end and carefully pressed the ferrule onto the end of the shank. I turned it on the shank to align the HC Sterling London stamp on the ferrule with the Comoy’s stamp on the briar shank. I let the glue dry on the ferrule and once it had set I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain really began to stand out. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The grain shines through and really stands out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the results. I used some silver polish to remove the remaining oxidation on the Sterling Silver ferrule. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and polished it once it had dried. It took some time to polish out the scratches in the silver and give it a shine. I followed that up by polishing the ferrule with a jeweler’s polishing cloth. The photos show the shine.I set the bowl aside at this point and turned back to address the cured repairs on the stem surface. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the rubber and also to remove the oxidation that remained after Jeff’s cleanup. I polished it with 400 grit sandpaper to smooth out some of the scratching that was left behind by the earlier sanding.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I carefully worked around the Sterling Silver ferrule so I would not damage it. 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. The grain on this briar is absolutely beautiful and the shine on it makes the grain really shine. The pipe polished up really well. The wax and the contrasting stain on the bowl made the grain just pop on the briar. The polished black vulcanite seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. Comoy’s really captured this shape in a way that no one else has in my opinion. The pipe is perfect in my hand and when it warms with smoking I think it will be about perfect. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is one that will remain in my collection. Once I figure out the value of the pipe I will make a donation on behalf of Jennifer’s Dad to the organization that I work for. It is a pipe like no other Comoy’s that I have seen before. I want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners, we are pipemen hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

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What a Mess – a Weary Comoy’s Tradition 157 Barrel


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue came from an auction in Los Angeles, California that Jeff picked up online. This one was a Comoy’s Tradition Barrel Billiard. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Comoy’s Tradition and on the right side of the shank is the Comoy’s COM Stamp (Made in London in a circle over England) as well as the shape numberb157. It is a barrel shaped pipe with a flat bottom on the heel and sits well as a sitter. As is typical of Comoy’s Tradition pipe this one is a beauty. The finish is smooth and looks like nice grain under the grime of years. The rim top was smooth and had a beveled inner rim edge. There was a thick coat of lava on the rim and on the beveled inner edge. The pipe was dusty but the finish looked like it was rich and would clean up well. The stem is a vulcanite taper with a Comoy’s three part inlaid C on the left side of the stem. The stem has tooth marks and chatter on both sides at the button edge. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. Jeff took a photo of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The lava overflowing the thick cake in the bowl all but concealed the inner and outer edge of the bowl and made it impossible to know the condition of the pipe. There was also tobacco debris in the bowl and stuck in the lava on the rim top.He also took photos of the right side and left side and underside of the bowl and shank to show the amazing birdseye and cross grain around the bowl and the smooth bottom that made the bowl a sitter. The classic Comoy’s stain looked pretty good under the grime.Jeff took photos of the stamping on both the left and right side of the shank and the Comoy’s C on the left side of the stem. It reads as noted above. The stamping is legible and very readable. The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. They also show the deep oxidation on the stem.Once again, Jeff did his usual thorough clean up job on the pipe so that  when it arrived here in Vancouver it looked amazingly good – almost like a different pipe. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the 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 of the pipe. He rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove all of the lava build up on the beveled rim top of the pipe. The rim top and beveled edge looked very good. The birdseye grain was beautiful and the pipe looked very good. The stem looked a lot better than previously. Jeff had soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer and it had done a great job on the oxidation. There were tooth marks and chatter visible on both sides of the stem at the button. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work. I took close up photos of the bowl, rim and stem surfaces to capture the condition of the pipe after Jeff had done his cleanup. It reminded me once again how glad I am that he does this work for me and I can work on a clean pipe. The rim top was clean and the beveled inner edge was in excellent condition. There was some rim and edge darkening but it was relatively undamaged. The stem was quite clean with some tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button.I decided to address the rim darkening first so I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge of the bevel and clean up the darkening.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads (1500-1200 grit pads) and wiped the bowl down with a wet cloth to remove the sanding dust. I was so intent on doing it that I forgot to take pictures of this part of the work but you all know the effectiveness of micromesh in polishing briar. Once I was finished polishing it I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. At this point I remembered to take photos. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the grain really stood out on the smooth rim. The finish looks very good with the combined dark and medium brown stain on the bowl and rim. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks on both sides with black super glue. It takes a while  to cure so I set it aside and worked on another pipe while it hardened. Once the repair had cured, I sanded it with 220 and 400 grit sand paper to smooth out the repairs and blend them into the surface of the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli and brought it back to the work table and finished polishing it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I finished by giving it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and setting it aside to dry. Since I had finished both the bowl and stem I put them back together and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish 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. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The smooth rim top and the beautiful birdseye and cross grain finish on the bowl came alive on the buffing wheel. The rich brown stain works well with polished black tapered vulcanite stem. The finish looks amazing and it is smooth and light weight in the hand. Judging from the condition when we got it, I am sure that it will be an amazing smoker. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I will be putting this beauty on the rebornpipes store shortly and it can be added to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beautiful Comoy’s Tradition Barrel 157 pipe.

 

Refreshing a Comoy’s Made in London, England Bent Bulldog


Blog by Dal Stanton

I saw this Comoy’s Bent Bulldog as a charity listing on eBay for the Akron Art Museum, in Akron, Ohio.  The seller, like me, was providing pipes for a good cause and I like that.  I also liked the Bulldog I saw in the pictures the seller provided and by the description, it seemed the seller was a pipe person.  The nuts and bolts description:

A classic bulldog! About 5 1/4” long, bowl is 1 1/2” tall, 1 5/8” wide tapering to 1 1/8” at rim. ID 13/16”, depth 1 5/16”. Marked on one side of shank COMOY’S, other side MADE IN LONDON ENGLAND in circular fashion 4097, beneath shank a capital H. A capital C stamped on side of bit. No other marks detected.

Diamond saddle bit is well-seated push fit, cleaned and polished, showing some bite wear but no holes through. Some oxidation as well. Stummel is well hand worn and smoothed, some dings and scratches, scorch on rim, light cake in bowl. Though the pipe is smokable as is, this one has the possibility of being a real beauty with some TLC!

I took the gambit dangled in the last sentence regarding this Bulldog’s possible condition with some TLC.  My bid on the auction block was sufficient, I supported the Akron Art Museum, and now this Comoy’s Bent Bulldog is on the worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria, on track to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, my favorite cause.  This was the second pipe that Stephen commissioned along with a Custom-Bilt Rusticated Panel.  Here’s the picture I saw on eBay which got Stephen’s attention in the For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! collection:Now on my worktable, I take more pictures to get a closer look at the condition of this Comoy’s Bent Bulldog. The nomenclature on the Bulldog’s diamond shank is clear.  On the upper left shank is stamped ‘Comoy’s’.  The right upper shank has encircled, ‘MADE’ with ‘IN’ in the center and ‘LONDON’ on the bottom.  Underneath the circle is ‘ENGLAND’ in straight script.  To the right is shape number ‘409 7’.  Underneath this on the lower right shank panel is stamped ‘H’.  All indicators of the nomenclature point to a Cadogan era pipe which began in 1979 with the merger absorbing Comoy’s.  The simple ‘C’ stem stamp confirms this without the classic 3 piece inlaid ‘C’.  The shape number of 409 has historically indicated a Bulldog on earlier shape charts with a slight quarter bend.  The addition of the ‘7’ on this Bulldog I’m not clear on this, except that during the Cadogan era they added a 4th number to the shapes according to the Pipepedia article on shapes. I would say that this Comoy’s Bent Bulldog has been lovingly enjoyed over the years.  He’s got quite a few scrapes and bruises for the wear, mainly on his dome and circling the double grooves.  I took quite a few pictures of these above.  I’ll need to do some repairs especially on the back side of the dome where there are several small concentrated dents.  The front of the rim has been scorched from lighting practices it appears.  The dome grooves need to be cleaned and I detect a few chips of briar on the back-right side along the grooves.  Also, of interest are two huge fills on the right side of the bowl as it tapers down.  I’ll need to take a good long look at these.  The stem has oxidation and typical tooth chatter and compression dents on the button lip and just before the button.  The former steward was a clencher.

I begin the restoration of this Comoy’s Bulldog by placing the stem in a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes and stems in the queue.  Whoops, I include the original seller’s pictures – I forgot to take pictures of the original stem’s condition before putting the stem into the soak. After some hours of soaking, I remove the Bulldog stem and using a cotton cloth wetted with alcohol, I wipe down the stem removing the raised oxidation.  I follow this by wetting a cotton pad with light paraffin oil (mineral oil) and continue to wipe off the oxidation and the oil helps rejuvenate the vulcanite.After the soak wiping and the stem dries, I can still detect oxidation on the stem which requires more attention.  Before I start sanding the stem, I use Before & After Fine and Extra Fine Polishes to work on the oxidation.  It is advertised to continue the raising process of oxidation.  I start first with the Fine Polish by putting some on my finger and rubbing it in the vulcanite.  I also work it in well around the ‘C’ stamping to clean it more.  After applying, I allow it to stand for some time and then wipe off.  I do the same with the Extra Fine Polish.  After I’ve finished, I still see a deep greenish hue indicating the oxidation is still holding on.  The last picture below tries to capture what I see with the naked eye – it doesn’t do a very good job! One more noninvasive approach to the oxidation I’ll try.  I scrub the stem surface using Magic Eraser.  After working the white sponge over the entire surface, it did do a good job.  More oxidation was removed, but not enough to make me happy!  I still see oxidation especially on the ‘saddle’ of the saddle stem.  The pictures show the progression.Next, I sand the stem starting first with 240 grit paper.  I do not like going through the fine tune buffing with micromesh pads and start seeing oxidation!  So, I sand the entire stem, avoiding the Comoy’s ‘C’ stamping.  I also use at disc to sand against at the stank side of the stem.  The disc helps to guard against shouldering the stem so that the edges are not sharp as the stem joins the shank.  This sanding is primarily for dealing with the oxidation.  In the pictures below, you can see the bit area compressions that are left untouched by the sanding.Before proceeding further with the sanding of the stem, I use the heating method to raise the compressions in the vulcanite in the bit area.  Using a Bic lighter, I paint the bit and button to heat the vulcanite which causes it to expand.  The hope is that this will cause the indentations perhaps to go away or lessen in their impact so that they will then sand out more easily. After painting the bit with the open flame, it helped to minimize some, but it did not erase the dents and compressions on the bit and on the button lips.  I follow with a flat needle file to file the button to refresh and shape the edges.  I follow again with 240 grit paper continuing to sand the dents on the bit.  Using the Bic lighter to raise the dents helps and I’m able to sand out all the dents and compressions from biting. Before proceeding further with the sanding of the stem, I use the heating method to raise the compressions in the vulcanite in the bit area.  Using a Bic lighter, I paint the bit and button to heat the vulcanite which causes it to expand.  The hope is that this will cause the indentations perhaps to go away or lessen in their impact so that they will then sand out more easily. After painting the bit with the open flame, it helped to minimize some, but it did not erase the dents and compressions on the bit and on the button lips.  I follow with a flat needle file to file the button to refresh and shape the edges.  I follow again with 240 grit paper continuing to sand the dents on the bit.  Using the Bic lighter to raise the dents helps and I’m able to sand out all the dents and compressions from biting.  Next, I wet sand the entire stem using 600 grade paper and follow this by buffing with 0000 steel wool. One last thing at this point before turning to the stummel, I give the stem a coat of light paraffin oil to help revitalize it.  I put the stem aside to absorb the oil and dry. With the stummel in hand, I begin the internal cleaning by reaming the light cake build up in the chamber.  I use 3 of the 4 blade heads available from the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  I then use the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool to reach the hard to reach places in the chamber.  I then sand the chamber with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen followed by wiping the bowl with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean the carbon dust left behind.  Inspection of the chamber reveals some heat fissures on the floor of the chamber.  There also appears to be a small fissure creeping up just above the draft hole.  I take a few pictures that show what I’m seeing.  Are these fissures severe enough to warrant a durable patch or perhaps apply a pipe mud to enhance the growth of a protective cake?  That’s what I’ll be considering.  Continuing the cleaning, I use undiluted Murphy’s Soap on the external briar surface.  To work on the grit lodged in the grooves I use a bristled tooth brush.  I also use a brass wire brush to work around the dome and rim to clear away the old oils. Using a sharp dental probe, I painstakingly clean both dome groves, scraping packed dirt out.  I’m careful not to jump ‘track’ out of the grooves and scratching the briar surface.  The picture shows the cleaning progress. With the externals cleaned up, I turn now to the internal mortise and airway.  Using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95% I go to work. I quicken the work by scraping the mortise with a dental spatula.  In time, the cotton buds and pipe cleaners were coming out clean.  I’ll continue cleaning later using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.Turning again to the stummel surface, the rim and dome cleaned up well but show the dents and pockets from knocks and drops.  There remains a scorched area at the front of the rim/dome area.  There are small chips in several places around the circumference of the dome grooves.  I believe they’re all too small to patch, but with sanding I’m hoping that most should disappear or be minimized.  The most daunting aspect of the briar landscape is a huge, double fill patch on the right lower side of the stummel.  I take two pictures of the fills to show the position and a super close-up to show the appearance of the fills.  I poked the fills with a dental probe and both fills are rock solid.  Yet, as the close-up picture reveals, there are small air pocket holes in the fills and gaping around the fills.  I’ll leave the fills in place but touch them up with thin, clear CA glue and then sand to blend.  These fills will pretty well drive the boat regarding the finished look of the Comoy’s Bulldog.  The finish needs to be darker in order to mask the fills as much as possible, though even a dark stain will not hide these giants.   Looking again around the dome grooves, on the back-right quadrant there may be at least 2 candidates for a patch before sanding.  I take a picture of this area.  To the top left of the groove chips, there are also a few small holes that I’ll fill with a spot-drop of CA glue.  In this picture there are also two other small fills that seem to be in good shape.Before I begin sanding and patching, I start from the top and work my way down!  Topping the stummel will re-define the rim and address the front quadrant of the rim/dome where the former burn damage has thinned the rim.  I take some pictures to show these issues and mark the start. I put 240 grade paper on the chopping board and rotate the inverted stummel several times, checking as I go to make sure I’m staying level and not leaning into soft spots in the briar. When enough of the top is removed, I then switch the paper to 600 grade paper and turn the stummel a few more rotations. I take pictures to show the progress.  Now to the patching party!  I first wipe the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean the area. I start with the two large fills by spot dropping a small amount of thin CA glue over the fills and spreading the glue over the entire fill – filling the pockets and gaps.  To move the work along faster, since these are not ‘weight bearing’ patches, I use an accelerator to quicken the curing process.   For the groove patch, I insert a piece of an index card into the groove to create a flow barrier for the CA glue.  I then spot-drop a small amount of CA glue slightly above the chip and draw the glue over the chipped area with a toothpick.  Again, I use an accelerator to solidify the glue.  After a few minutes, I pull the index card away and use a sharp dental probe to make sure the groove is clear of CA glue seepage.  Next, I apply small drops to four other small pits near the grooves and above them – again, I use an accelerator.  I decide also to apply a small drop to the right of the primary groove repair.   The repairs look a mess now, but I’m hopeful that the sanding will prove to reveal a more pleasing surface!Next, I begin the filing and sanding of the two large fill patches down to the surface level.  I use a flat needle file to do this initially when the patch mound is more distinct, then follow with 240 grade paper as the sanding nears the briar surface.  The gaps and pits in the original patch filled nicely, blending better with the surrounding briar.To both clean and sharpen the grooves at the groove patch repair, I insert 240 grade paper into the groove itself.  The groove is only large enough to accommodate a single sheet, so I must flip the paper to sand both the upper and lower edges of the groove.  I use a sawing motion with the paper while in the groove and I flex the paper up to apply a little more sanding action to the groove edge.  This technique does a good job redefining and cleaning up groove edges, especially at the point of the CA glue repair.After filing, sanding the groove patch repairs, and ‘groove sanding’ the groove repair looks great!  The patch has blended, and the groove is cleaner and smarter.Next, I move on to filing and sanding the 4 patches to the left of the groove repair on the dome.  I file the patch mounds down until near the briar surface and then take over with 240 grit paper.  I sand the area of the patches to blend.  It looks good – not pristine, but much less ragged!  The battered stummel is showing some signs of life!I follow by ‘groove sanding’ this area.  I like the results of this technique, so I decide to continue the groove sanding around the entire circumference of the dome for both the upper and lower grooves.  Since I’m able only to do one directional sanding on the grooves, it requires four circuits around the dome to do the job!  I refined the technique as I work – by flexing the paper somewhat I can sand more directly chips encountered on the groove edge as I slowly work around the dome.  The pictures show the groove sanding progress and results – much cleaner and crisper for this Comoy’s Bulldog! I continue preparing the external briar surface by sponge sanding starting first with the coarse sanding sponge.  I then use a medium grade sponge then finish with a light grade sanding sponge.  I avoid totally the upper shank panels with the nomenclature.  Sanding sponges help to clean the surface of the minor nicks and cuts and soften the look without an overly intrusive sanding effect.  The pictures show the results of the 3 sponges. As I sponge sand the dome of the Bulldog, I notice a chip in the inner lip of the rim that became more distinct during the sanding process.  To erase this small divot, I introduce a very gentle inner bevel to the rim using 240 grade paper rolled.  This dispatched the divot quickly. Earlier, I avoided using the sanding sponges on the nomenclature panels in order not to diminish the Comoy’s stampings.   I do want to clean the panels more to rid the old residue finish before applying a fresh stained finish.  To remove the old finish and to clean the panel I apply acetone to a cotton pad and wipe the panels.  This does the job. With the time of my departure for the work day rapidly approaching, I continue the internal cleaning of the mortise and airway using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  After forming a wick by stretching and twisting a cotton ball, I insert it down the mortise and airway using a stiff wire.  The wick acts to draw out the tars and oils.  I then add kosher salt (no aftertaste) to the chamber and place the stummel in an egg crate for stability.  With a large eyedropper, I add isopropyl 95% to the chamber until is surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, after the alcohol has absorbed into the chamber, I top off the alcohol and set the stummel aside to soak for the day.Arriving home several hours later, the soak did the job of finishing the internal cleaning.  I clean the expended salt from the chamber with paper towel and shank brushes as well as blowing through the mortise.  I run an additional pipe cleaner and cotton bud wetted with alcohol to assure the internals were clean.  They are, now moving on!Before proceeding further with the external stummel preparation, I’ve come to a decision point regarding the chamber issues that I saw earlier.  The floor of the chamber has heat fissures which the first picture shows.  The second picture shows the fissure immediately above the draft hole.  The upper chamber shows some heating issues with small, more normal chamber wear.  Earlier, my question had been, do the fissures on the floor of the chamber need a more durable response than simply applying a pipe mud mixture to enhance the growth of a protective cake?  The floor of the chamber has experience overheating issues and I believe at this point would benefit from applying J-B Weld to prevent further damage and to reinforce the resistance of the chamber floor.J-B Weld comes with two components that are mixed together and once mixed harden to form a heat resistant bond.  I’ll mix a small amount and apply it to the floor of the chamber then spread it over the area, including above the draft hole, filling the fissures with the Weld.  After it hardens and cures, I’ll sand the excess. I first wipe the chamber with alcohol and put a pipe cleaner through the airway to block seepage into the draft hole.  After I mix J-B Weld components in equal parts, I apply a small amount on the floor of the chamber and spread it with a dental spatula and my finger. I rotate the pipe cleaner so that it is not stuck but I leave it in place – I don’t want to pull it out while the J-B Weld is wet leaving the mixture in the mortise.  I put the stummel aside for the J-B Weld to cure.  After the repair cured overnight, I take a picture of the sanding process using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  I concentrate on removing the excess J-B Weld so that all that is left of the weld is what has filled the fissures and cracks. The next pictures show a much healthier chamber.  At the floor of the chamber in the first pictures and concentrating on the area immediately above the draft hole in the second picture, you still see what appears to be rough spots, but it is now smooth to the touch in large measure.  The Weld filled the cracks and reinforced the area.  The application of J-B Weld and the additional sanding on the floor and the walls of the chamber cleaned it up nicely.  Putting the stummel aside, I take the stem and wet sand using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads I apply Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite. With the stem waiting in the wings, I continue with the stummel by wet sanding with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow this by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I take pictures of both sides of the stummel to show the huge fills on the right side.  If it weren’t for these unavoidable fills, the fantastic recovery the stummel has made would encourage me to leave the original, natural grain finish in place.  The briar surface had many issues, but the results of the micromesh sanding reveal a very attractive grain presentation.  The next step is to apply a dark stain to the Comoy’s Bulldog that will serve to help mask the issues prevalent on the surface.  Without question, my plan is to apply Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to the stummel surface.  I assemble all the needed components on the table to apply the stain.  First, using a sharp dental probe I carefully dig out and scrape the dome grooves to make sure the debris is gone.  After wiping the stummel with alcohol to clean and prepare the surface, I fit the stummel with a cork I’ve fashioned as a handle inserted into the mortise.  Next, I heat the stummel with a hot air gun to expand the briar grain.  This aids the briar in absorbing the dye pigment.  Using a folded over pipe cleaner, I apply the dye to the stummel.  After a thorough application, I flame the stummel with a lit candle and the alcohol-based aniline dye combusts and sets the dye in the grain.  After a few minutes, I apply the dye again and flame again to make sure there is an even coverage.  I then set the stummel aside for the dyed stummel to rest. After resting for several hours through the night, it’s time to unwrap the fire-crusted Comoy’s stummel.  Over time, I have developed my own techniques for use with the Dremel since this is my main and only work horse tool on the 10th floor flat of a formerly Communist block apartment building!  My usual method for ‘unwrapping’ has been with the use of a felt buffing wheel, which is more abrasive than cotton, applying Tripoli compound.  I love this technique because the result reveals a more brilliant grain pattern as it lightens the grain veins leaving them in contrast to the softer briar wood which absorbs more of the dye.  However, I have found that using the felt buffing wheel lightens the entire stummel.  With the large dark fills on this stummel in need of remaining masked for better blending, I use a cotton cloth buffing wheel with Tripoli compound to unwrap the flamed crust.  The softer cotton wheel isn’t as abrasive and leaves a darker dyed hue on the briar surface.  After mounting a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel, I set the speed at the lowest RPM and I apply Tripoli to the stummel. I take a couple staged pictures to show the contrast between the flamed crust and the surface that has been ‘unwrapped’ and buffed with compound.  After completing with the Tripoli, I wet a cotton pad with alcohol to wipe the stummel not so much to lighten but to blend the new stained finish. Next, I rejoin the stem and stummel to apply Blue Diamond compound.  I discover that the junction between the tenon and mortise has loosened through the cleaning process – a common thing in my experience.  To remedy this, I take a drill bit the next size larger than will fit through the tenon airway.  I use a Bic lighter and heat the tenon and after a bit, the vulcanite tenon becomes supple and allows me gradually to insert the drill bit end into the airway.  This expands the tenon and tightens the connection.  This works like a charm!  With the stem now fitting snuggly, I continue to apply Blue Diamond to the stummel and stem.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and increase the speed to about 40% full power.  I apply Blue Diamond compound to both stem and stummel.Before moving on to applying carnauba wax to the pipe, I have two more projects to do.  The first is to apply white acrylic paint to refresh the Comoy’s ‘C’ stamping on the stem.  The second is to apply pipe mud to the chamber.  I decide to do the latter first.  After the repair done to the chamber, to enhance the healthy development of a protective cake (which should be maintained at about the width of a US dime coin) I use a mixture called pipe mud – a combination of cigar ash and water.  This mixture, once applied to the chamber and dries, hardens to create a starter surface for the cake to develop.  My colleague, Gary, who lives in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, is the cigar man who saves his ash for my use. Thanks, Gary!  I mix some water with ash in a plastic dish and mix it with my pipe nail until it starts to thicken. At this point, I apply it in the chamber with the nail and my finger.  It doesn’t dry quickly so there’s time to spread it evenly over the chamber.  After spread, I insert a pipe cleaner through the draft hole to keep it clear of the mud.  I then put the stummel aside in the egg cart for the mud to cure. Turning now to the Comoy’s ‘C’ stem stamp, I put a drop of white acrylic paint over the ‘C’ and absorb the excess with a cotton pad and ‘dob’ it out so that the paint thins and dries.  I then use a toothpick’s flat edge to gently scrape the excess paint off after it dries.  I have to reapply paint a few times to get it right.  The pictures show the process. After allowing the pipe mud to cure, I rejoin stem and stummel and once more, run the sharp dental probe in the grooves around the circumference of the dome then buff the pipe with a felt cloth clearing away the compound dust before applying wax.  I then mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, keep the speed at about 40% full power and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the pipe.  I finish the restoration by using a microfiber cloth to give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.

I’m pleased with the results of this Comoy’s Made in London, England, Bent Bulldog.  The restoration was fought in the trenches!  The many repairs done to the stummel surface came out well, though the two large fills are still evident, but not as overt. The dark brown dye came out beautifully and the groove patches and repairs have all but disappeared.  I’m glad I also addressed the heat fissure issues in the chamber.  This Comoy’s Bent Bulldog will provide many more years of service to a new steward.  Stephen commissioned this Comoy’s and will have first opportunity to acquire it in the Pipe Steward Store and this pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually abused.  Thanks for joining me!

 

Cleaning up a Cadogan Era Comoy’s Silver Shadow 225


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked this Comoy’s Silver Shadow up from a friend on Facebook who was selling a batch of pipes that he picked up. When it arrived several of the pipes were unsmoked and in excellent condition. This Comoy’s was very nice but had tooth marks on the stem and was lightly smoked. There was some light cake in the bowl and the finish was dull. Jeff cleaned up the pipes with his usual thoroughness – reaming the bowl and scrubbing the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime on the finish. Jeff sent it to me recently in a batch of pipes that were ready to restore. I took photos of the pipe when I unpacked it. The bowl and rim are very clean. There is a light fill on the backside of the bowl that is solid and tight. The finish was clean and the pipe needed to be polished. The stem had bite and tooth marks on both the top and underside near the button.I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and the underside. The left side is stamped Comoy’s over Silver Shadow. On the right side it is stamped with the shape number 225 and the COM stamp – Made in London in a circle over England. The underside of the shank is stamped with an upper case M.I started with the clean up on the stem first. I used a needle file to clean up the straight edge of the button and smooth out the wear on the button. I sanded the tooth marks out of the surface of the acrylic stem with 220 grit sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I worked Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl and rim looked like. It looks really good after the balm and buffing. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and acrylic. 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. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The original patina on the bowl came alive with the buffing and worked well with the polished silver swirled acrylic stem. The pipe has a rich look. The finished pipe is shown in the photo below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem is beautiful and combine very well. This should make a great smoking pipe and it is comfortable in both hand and mouth. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this beautiful Comoy’s Silver Shadow. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly.

 

Recommissioning a Comoy’s Moorgate 102 of Italy


Blog by Dal Stanton

I saw this attractive Comoy’s Moorgate on the eBay auction block last year and fortunately provided enough of a bid to bring it home to Bulgaria.  What attracted me to this Comoy’s was the interesting finish which is a darkened, orange hue with nice feathered grain.  This Comoy’s Moorgate also got Jim’s attention after he saw it posted on my website in the For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! collection I list online for pipe men and women to commission.  I enjoyed communicating with Jim via email very much.  Jim not only commissioned the Comoy’s, but he also commissioned a very interesting, older Stanwell Henley Special which I acquired along with 2 brother Stanwell Henleys – 3 pipes I’ve been looking forward to restoring and learning more about.  Along with these 2 pipes that Jim commissioned, were his encouraging words of appreciation for the work we’re doing with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Jim was glad that the pipes he was commissioning benefited these efforts.  Thanks, Jim!  Here are a few pictures of the pipes – the Comoy’s and the Stanwell Henley Special – Jim’s is the Saddle Stem Billiard in the middle.  When Jim commissioned these pipes, I’m grateful that he also agreed to be patient as the pipes gradually made it to the top of the queue.  I take some additional pictures to take a closer look at the Comoy’s Moorgate on my worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria, on the 10th floor of a formerly Communist block apartment building. The nomenclature identifies this Comoy’s as a post-Cadogan era pipe which dates it no older than the early 1980’s when the Cadogan merger took place.  On the left side of the shank is ‘COMOY’S’ [over] ‘MOORGATE’.  The right side of the shank is stamped with the shape number, ‘102’.   The upper side of the stem has the well-known ‘C’ Comoy’s stamp and the underside is stamped, ‘ITALY’. All the stampings point to a post-merger Comoy’s pipe.  The COM being Italy and not ‘Made in London England’ confirms this as Cadogan farmed out the manufacturing.  Interesting also is the shape number, ‘102’.  Pipedia provides a Comoy’s Shape Number Chart that identifies the 102 as being an army mounted, large, straight Pot which does not correspond to the Half Bent Billiard on my table.  The chart most likely pointing to earlier shape numbers.Pipephil.eu provides a Comoy’s Moorgate that matches up with what I’m seeing before me – nomenclature and stampings.  It references a Comoy’s second brand with the name ‘Moorgate’.  I look up the reference and it is a different line altogether – nomenclature and stem stamps and COM as ‘Made in England’.Looking at the condition of the Comoy’s Moorgate on my worktable, it is generally in good condition.  I take a few more pictures to look at some trouble areas.  The chamber has moderate cake build up and some significant lava flow caked on the rim.  The bowl surface has some dents which I’ll try to lift with the hot iron method to preserve the finish.  The stem has moderate oxidation and tooth chatter – no huge problems detected there. To begin, I run a pipe cleaner wetted with alcohol through the draft way and then put the stem in a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer along with several other pipes in the queue.  After several hours soaking, I fish out the Comoy’s stem and allow the Deoxidizer fluid to drain off.  I then take a cotton cloth wetted with alcohol and wipe off the raised oxidation. I continue wiping off oxidation and conditioning the stem by wetting the cotton pad with light paraffin oil.  The Deoxidizer seems to have done a good job. Next, I address the chamber cleaning by reaming it with the Pipnet Reaming Kit. To help with the cleanup, I put down some paper towel to catch the dislodged carbon.  Beginning with the smallest of four blade heads, I ream the chamber. I only use 2 of the 4 blades available.  I follow this by using the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool to fine tune the reaming.  I also use the Fitsall Tool to scrape gently an internal rim bevel that emerges from underneath the carbon cake.  I also use my thumbnail to scratch the carbon off the rim.  Following this, I wrap a piece of 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber.  Finally, to remove the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  With the chamber cleaned, I inspect the chamber walls and I find no issues with heat fissures or cracking. Turning now to the external briar surface, I use undiluted Murphy’s Soap on a cotton pad and clean.  I take my time on the rim to remove the lava.  After cleaning the surface, I use cool tap water to rinse the bowl.Turning now to the internals of the bowl, I use cotton buds and pipe cleaners with alcohol to clean. I also use a dental spatula to scrape the mortise walls more quickly removing the built-up tars and oils.  In time the buds and pipe cleaners start coming out cleaner.  Good for now.  I move on!To achieve a deeper cleaning and refreshing of the internals, I use a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  Using a cotton ball to create a wick, I stretch and twist it and then insert it through the mortise and into the airway.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt and place it in an egg carton to provide stability.  With a large eye dropper, I then fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  I top the alcohol in a few minutes after it’s absorbed into the salt.  I put the stummel aside for several hours to soak.  After some time, the salt and the wick were soiled.  I tossed the expended salt, wipe the bowl with paper towel, and blow through the mortise to remove salt crystals.  To make sure all was clean, I use a cotton bud and pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% and they are clean.Putting the cleaned bowl aside, I take the flat needle file and work on the button.  I file the button lips, upper and lower to redefine them.  To erase the scratches of the file, I follow by sanding the bit area, upper and lower with 240 grade sanding paper.  I also sand the entire stem to remove further residual oxidation.  I’m careful to avoid the stem stampings while sanding.  To remove the scratches left by the 240 grade paper, I wet sand using 600 grade paper followed by applying 0000 steel wool buffing to the entire stem.In order to further enrich the vulcanite, I use Before & After Fine and Extra Fine Polish in that order.  I put some Fine polish on my fingers and work the polish in.  After some minutes, I wipe it off.  I follow with the same process with the Extra Fine Polish, giving it some minutes and wiping it off and buffing up the stem.  The stem is cleaning up very nicely.Turning again to the stummel, there are 2 significant dents that I want to see if I can minimize using the heating method with an iron.  I take pictures of the two places I have in mind.  I heat the iron and dampen a cotton handkerchief with water.  I place the cloth over the dent and press the hot iron against the cloth over the dent in the briar.  The heat and moisture are supposed to expand the dent and in this case it does. Interestingly, taking a picture of the two dents afterwards, what emerged is a roughness caused by the heat. Hmmm, not sure why that happened.  The pictures show what I see before and after heating. To remove the roughness caused by the heating and to remove the normal wear nicks, I wet sand the stummel using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400.  I then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The grain on this Comoy’s Moorgate is unique as it emerges through the micromesh process.  It looks great! To enrich the natural grain of the bowl, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm.  I apply some Balm on my fingers and work it into the briar surface.  The Balm starts with a thinner oil-like viscosity then gradually thickens to a waxy consistency.  After I apply the Balm thoroughly, I let the bowl stand for several minutes while the Balm absorbs.  I then wipe off the Balm using a microfiber cloth and gradually, as the Balm is removed, I transition to buffing with the cloth. I take a picture while the Balm is doing its thing and after. I’m liking it a lot!Returning to the stem, I now continue with the micromesh sanding phase.  I begin by wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 micromesh pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to continue revitalizing the vulcanite.  The rubber has that glossy pop!  I put the stem aside to dry. Next, I want to refresh the stem stamping, ‘ITALY’.  To do this I place a drop of white acrylic paint over the lettering.  I then use a cotton pad to blotter the excess paint, thinning it so that it dries rapidly. With the flat edge of a toothpick, I then gently scrape the excess paint off the stem.  The pictures show the progress. I now reunite the stem and the bowl and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel.  I set the speed at about 40% full power and apply Blue Diamond compound to the entire pipe.  Afterwards, I wipe/buff the pipe with a felt cloth to clear it of leftover compound dust.  While I was buffing with the felt cloth, I note that the stem fitting is a little loose for my liking.  This sometimes happens after cleaning the pipe well and scraping the mortise.  To remedy this, I fit a drill bit just larger than the airway diameter and heat the tenon with a Bic lighter.  As the vulcanite tenon heats, it becomes supple allowing me to insert the bit into the airway and it expands the tenon slightly.  I test the fit and it works perfectly, and I am satisfied.  After rejoining stem and stummel, I then mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, maintaining 40% speed and apply several coats of carnauba wax.  I finish the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further.I’m pleased with the results of this Comoy’s Moorgate.  The briar is spectacular with its diversion of colors and swirls of grain.  Patches of orange settle in the grain knots and from there the colors are an eye catching kaleidoscopes. It is a unique piece of briar and the half-bent Billiard nicely rests in the palm.  Jim commissioned this Comoy’s from the For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! collection and he will have the first opportunity to acquire it from The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Restoring a pair of Comoy’s Blue Riband Billiards


Blog by Steve Laug

Not long ago I received a package in the mail from a reader of the blog, Scott in California, US containing two Comoy’s Blue Riband Billiards. There was a note in the box regarding what he wanted done with the pipes. He wrote:

…As you can see both stems do not seat all the way in the shank of the pipes. The pipe in two separate wrappings is in a little better shape than the other one. Both need the stems refinished, bowls reamed and cleaned, etc. Would like to keep the original patina on the outside wood if possible. Thanks again for your help and let me know if you have any questions.

After opening the wrappings in the well packed box I found the two pipes. I took pictures of both pipes to capture their condition when they arrived. The first set of photos show the one that he said was “in a little better shape”. The finish still had a shine on the bowl and shank. The rim top was in decent condition. There was a light cake in the bowl and some light lava on the rim. The stem did not seat in the shank completely and when I looked the shank was very dirty and caked with tars. The stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to give a clearer picture of the condition of the pipe.I took photos of both sides of the shank to show the stamping on the pipe. The left side read COMOY’S over BLUE RIBAND with the three part C in the left side of the stem. The right side had the circular COM stamp and read MADE IN LONDON over ENGLAND followed by the shape number 291. You can see the stunning Blue Riband grain on the photos above and below. It is a beautiful pipe.The next set of photos show the second Blue Riband which was far more worn and dirty. The finish dirty and did not have the glow of the other pipe. The rim top had darkening all around the inner edge and there were some dents and marks in the top surface. The cake in the bowl on this one was thick and rock hard, narrowing about midbowl. There was some light lava on the rim. The stem did not seat in the shank completely and when I looked the shank was very dirty and caked with tars. The stem was not as oxidized as the other pipe and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There was some calcification on the surface around the button. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to give a clearer picture of the condition of the pipe.I took photos of both sides of the shank to show the stamping on the pipe. The left side read COMOY’S over BLUE RIBAND with the three part C in the left side of the stem. The right side is a bit harder to read as the stamping is worn but it also had the circular COM stamp and read MADE IN LONDON over ENGLAND followed by the shape number 97. It is a bit smaller sized than the previous pipe but also has stunning Blue Riband grain. It is also a beautiful pipe underneath all of the grime.I reamed both bowls with a PipNet pipe reamer working through the cutting heads to take the cake back to the bare briar so I could check for damage to the interior walls of the pipe. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and finished with a piece of dowel wrapped in 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the walls. The first pipe was definitely cleaner than the second. The cake came out easily. The second pipe had a cake that was rock hard and I had to switch between the smallest cutting head on the PipNet and the Fitsall Knife to break through the cake. I worked my way alternating between the two until the bowl was reamed and then sanded it smooth. I scraped the mortise walls of both pipes with a pen knife to remove the buildup of hardened tars and oils. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway into the bowls as well as the airway in the stems of both pipes with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of the second pipe at this point… Arghh this is why I generally do one pipe at a time…. But I can tell you that the second pipe was far dirtier than the first.I took a photo of both pipes together at this point to show the clean bowls and the condition of the rim tops.I removed the stems from both of the pipes and put them in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. I let them sit while I turned my attention to the two bowls.I worked on the rim top of the second pipe (shape 97) with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I was able to remove the damaged areas and leave the rim top clean. There was still darkening around the inner edge but I have chosen to leave that for now. I worked Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar of both bowls with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of both at this point in the process. The first set of four photos show the more damaged bowl (shape 97) and the second set of four photos show the bowl that was in better condition (shape 291) when I started. Both bowls are looking quite good at this point. The stems had been sitting in the Before & After Deoxidizer overnight by the time I removed them from the bath. I rinsed them under running water and ran pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol through the airway to remove the solution from the airway. I took photos of the stems at this point.I decided to polish the top stem in the photos. It was the stem for the newer (shape 291) pipe. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil between each pad. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside. With that stem completed I turned to the second stem (shape 97), the older, dirtier pipe. I used a needle file to sharpen the edge of the button on both sides of the stem. I cleaned up the file marks with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the file marks and smooth out the edge.I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil between each pad. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside. I polished the bowls and stems with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and rubber. I gave the bowls and the stems multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipes with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed them with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. Both pipes polished up pretty nicely. The original patina on both bowls came alive with the buffing and worked well with the polished black vulcanite stems. Both pipes have a rich look. The finished pipes are shown in the photos below. The first pipe is the one that was in “better condition” when it arrived. I think it is a bit newer than the second one. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem speak well of the Blue Riband brand. The dimensions of the first pipe, shape 291 are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. The dimensions of the second pipe, shape 97 (the older one) are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This pair will soon head back to California so that Scott can enjoy them.  Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this beautiful pair of Comoy’s Blue Riband pipes… now I need to find some for myself!    

 

Restoring a Unique Comoy’s Pebble Grain 603 Modern Bent Poker


Blog by Dal Stanton

When I saw this pipe on the eBay auction block, I wanted it!  I was drawn initially by two factors – first, it was a Comoy’s Pebble Grain.  Secondly, I had never seen a Comoy’s with this shape – a very nice Bent Poker and classy to boot!  Or was it a Poker?  The seller’s tagline said: Details about Comoy’s Pre-Cadogan Pebble Grain Lightweight OOM Paul 609 Made In England.  Uh, Oom Paul?  Here is what I saw: Despite the confusing information which I decided I would sort out later, I was able to dodge last second bidders and land this beautiful, blasted Comoy’s Pebble Grain Bent Poker.  This Comoy’s has been in my ‘Help Me! Basket’ here in Bulgaria for some time waiting to unravel the confusion.  Now, fast forward to a recent visit to Bulgaria of my wife’s sister and her husband, Sarah and Greg.  It was great having family visit!  As is often the case, when people visit, they know about my sideline activity of restoring pipes for the Daughters of Bulgaria and often, people visiting our home are interested in the process of restoring, etc.  And VERY OFTEN, people desire to help the Daughters, too, and go through the MANY pipes I have in the ‘Help Me!’ basket and pick out a special pipe for them that will also benefit the Daughters.  Well, Greg caught the bug and wanted to choose ‘a’ pipe for himself which became two pipes because he couldn’t decide between the two!  He chose this Comoy’s as well as a K&P Peterson’s Republic of Ireland – both now in the queue for restoration to benefit the Daughters.  Thanks, Greg!

The one thing the eBay seller had right about this Comoy’s is that it is Pre-Cadogan, which means that it is pre-1981 the year of the merger.  The origins of Comoy from Saint-Claude, France, started in the 1820s by Francois Comoy.  His son, Henri, started the London extension of the Comoy name in 1879 with not much more than the tools of his trade – making pipes.  He is cited by Pipedia as being the author of the appellation, “London Made”.  In 1929 the company merged with the macro-concern, Oppenheimer Pipes.  With this, albeit brief history, Pipedia’s describes the present summation:

Comoy’s remained a family owned company until it was finally taken over by Cadogan Investments during the early 1980’s. Cadogan have continued to manufacture Comoy pipes to the present day and, under Michael Adler, the Comoy brand is their flagship and efforts are being made to once more re-instate the well-known quality of the brand.

Time to sort out the confusion.  I did a simple Google search for a Comoy’s pipe shapes chart which brought me PipePages.com where I found the actual shape 603 (not 609 on the eBay block), described as a ‘Modern – Bent Poker’.  The page provided information associating the Comoy’s pipe chart with the corresponding 1975 Comoy’s of London Catalog which I looked at.  The 603 is on the right, second down in the chart below.  I remember 1975!  I was in college, driving my red ‘68 VW Bug, Gerald Ford was President of the US, and it was the year Jaws hit the cinema (I think!). The catalog described the Pebble Grain line’s qualities and also provided a price list that I found interesting to see how the various Pebble Grain line shapes ranked in monetary value in 1975 – not a cheap pipe! It was tied for second in value with Comoy’s Golden Grain, behind number 1 – Comoy’s Diplomat line (See below). With the confusion dispensed, I take the 1975 Comoy’s Pebble Grain, Modern – Bent Poker, to the worktable and take additional pictures to get a closer look at this classy Comoy’s Pebble Grain Modern Poker. The heel of the Poker contains the nomenclature: ‘COMOY’S’ over ‘PEBBLE GRAIN’ over ‘MADE IN LONDON’ over ‘ENGLAND’ over ‘603’, the shape number.  According to Pipedia’s article, A History Of Comoy’s and A Guide Toward Dating the Pipes, the ‘Made in London England’ was used after WW2.  According to the same article, the ‘Inlaid C’ which this Poker has, was stopped with the Cadogan era in 1981.  So, this Comoy’s is placed after WW2 to the 1970s – the 1975 Comoy’s catalog siting seems to be confirmed.  I found this information about the inlaid C interesting:

“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-war. Cadogan first changed the “C” to a single drilling with an inlay that had the “C” in the centre, and more recently it became a laser imprint. I have a cased pair of early 1920’ “Par Excellence” where the “C” is on top of the mouthpiece.

The picture above shows the ‘three-piece C’ detected by the drilling if you look closely.  Very cool!

The condition of the Comoy’s Pebble Grain ¾ Bent Modern Poker is pretty good.  The blasted finish is exceptional, which seems to be a hallmark of the Comoy’s name.  The surface is dirty and needs to be cleaned.  The rim has significant lava flow over it and the chamber is sporting some moderate cake buildup.  The stem has a good bit of tooth chatter but no dents that I detect.  The oxidation is deep.  I want to keep my eye that – not to progress too far finishing the stem and discover oxidation!  That is not fun.  I begin the restoration of the Comoy’s Pebble Grain by first cleaning the internals with pipe cleaners and isopropyl 95%.  I then add the stem to a Before and After Deoxidizer bath along with other stems.  After some hours, I fish out the Comoy’s stem and after allowing it to drain a bit, I wipe off the raised oxidation using cotton pads and light paraffin oil, Bulgaria’s version of mineral spirits.  The oxidation wipes off and then I buff the stem clean with the cotton pad. I run a pipe cleaner through the stem to rid the airway of Deoxidizer fluid. I follow the Deoxidizer bath by applying Before and After Fine Polish and then Extra Fine Polish to further remove oxidation and revitalize the vulcanite stem.  I put a little of the polish on my finger and work it into the vulcanite until it has absorbed well. I do the same with the Extra Fine Polish.  I wipe off each application with a cotton pad.  I take a close look and I can still see the deep greenish haze of oxidation – ugh!  Instead of immediately turning to sanding, I decide to utilize the method I’ve used in the past – an OxiClean bath.  I cover the Comoy’s ‘C’ with petroleum jelly to protect it and I put the stem in the bath with a pipe cleaner inserted in it for easier retrieval.  I leave the stem in the OxiClean bath over nite. With the stem soaking, I turn to the Comoy’s Poker stummel.  I begin by reaming the chamber to remove the moderate carbon cake buildup.  Uncovering fresh briar enables me to examine the chamber walls for cracks or crevices. Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, I start with the smallest blade after putting paper towel down to ease on cleanup.  I use 3 of the 4 blades available to me in the Pipnet Kit – I’m surprised how large the bowl is for a smaller sized pipe.  I then scrape more carbon out of the chamber using the Savinelli Fitsall tool which is great for getting hard to reach places.  Using a Sharpie Pen, around it I wrap 240 grit paper and sand the fire chamber to expose the fresh briar.  I finish with cleaning the chamber of carbon dust with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The chamber has no cracks or crevices upon inspection. Next I attack the lava flow on the rim and cleaning the stummel surface.  I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil soap with cotton pads to do the cleaning.  The rim requires the use of a brass brush which doesn’t harm the briar.  I then rinse the stummel using cool tab water careful to keep water out of the internals.  The Murphy’s cleaned the surface well – it was grimy and the old finish was lightened at different places – especially around the rim.  I take a few pictures below to show what I’m seeing. I like working on a clean pipe so I decide to do the dirty work now.  Using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%, I work on cleaning the mortise and draft hole.  I find the internals pretty dirty but finally the pipe cleaners and buds are coming out fairly clean.  I like to make sure the internals are clean so I will also use the more subtle approach – kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I use kosher salt because, unlike iodized salt which leaves a taste in the wood, kosher does not.  I fill the chamber with salt and cover the top and give it a shake to move the salt around.  Then I use a cotton ball to create a wick by stretching and twisting it.  I stuff it down the mortise and place the stummel in an egg carton for stability.  Using a large eyedropper, I then fill the chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, I will top the alcohol again.  The night is late, I leave the stummel to soak over nite and I call it a day. The next morning before heading out for my workday, I need to tend to the kosher salt and alcohol soak.  The salt was discolored and the wick was wonderfully colored – it did the job that was asked of it!  I dump out the used salt in the waste basket and wipe the bowl with paper towel and a bristled brush to remove the leftover salt.  I also blow through the mortise to purge any left over salt in the mortise.  I finish by running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% through the airway and I’m satisfied.  The bowl is clean!I also fish the Comoy’s stem out of the OxiClean bath.  The bath has raised more oxidation from the vulcanite.  I adjust the aperture on the iPhone camera to show better what I’m able to see with the naked eye.I attack the oxidation by wet sanding with 600 grade paper.  When it’s time to head to work, I’m still not satisfied that the oxidation was conquered and will continue tonight!I continue working on the oxidation when I return in the evening.  I continue sanding using 600 grade paper but change to dry sanding.  I also utilize a disc I fashioned to wedge up to the shank end of the stem to avoid the sanding creating a ‘shoulder’ on the stem – a rounding of the edge. I think I’m making progress.  I follow the 600 paper by buffing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool.  Through out I take a very light approach to sanding on the Comoy’s 3 piece ‘C’, though since it is an inlay, it’s not fragile – at least that is my hope!  At this point, I’m feeling better about the oxidation being subdued for the most part!Now, taking a close look at the bit area to determine tooth chatter needing to be taken care of, I see that the work dealing with the oxidation has almost cleared all the chatter.  There is still a little that will easily sand out.  I take pictures of the minor issues and then use 470 grade paper on the upper and lower bit areas removing the chatter.  I then return to 600 grade paper then 0000 steel wool to erase the tracks of the coarser papers.  The pictures show the progress. Next, using micromesh pads, I wet sand the stem using pads 1500 to 2400.  Following this I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  Following each set of 3 pads, I apply Obsidian Oil which the vulcanite drinks up.  I think that stems require more time than any other part of the restoration process – they take lots of patience and this Comoy’s stem looks good – he’s really popping! Turning to the Pebble Grain Poker stummel, I’m looking forward to seeing how he will shape up!  The Comoy’s Pebble Grain blasted finish is second to none in my opinion – the three-dimensional perspective of the grain revealed in the blasting process gives a different kind of enjoyment.  I love to see the grain emerge in smooth briars, but a quality blasted surface, as this Comoy’s is, gives a unique grain look and touch all in one package.  Earlier when I cleaned the stummel with Murphy’s Soap, I felt like it lightened the finish at places.  With this classic pipe I want to keep it as close to the original as I can – only refreshing it where its tired.  I reached out to Steve with all his rebornpipes experience to get his input which was helpful as expected!  The working plan is to touch up areas that are worn more and exposed briar is showing.  This is especially true of the outer rim lip – through wear, the finish is thin.  I take a few pictures to mark the start. With a Cherry dye stick, which seems to be a good, subtle match, I touch up the rim as well as a few spots around the base of the shank and on the shank end.  I then apply Before and After Restoration Balm, Steve’s suggestion, by placing Balm on my fingers and working it into the crevices of the Comoy’s Poker blasted finish.  The Balm starts off more liquidy then firms up into a wax-like substance that continues to be supple.  It takes a few applications to my finger to cover the surface well.  I set it aside for a while to allow the Balm to do its thing!  I take a picture with the Balm on the stummel.  After about ten minutes, I wipe the Balm off with a cotton cloth towel until it start shining up.  I’m very pleased with the results – the Balm brought the blasted briar to a rich brown hue with the light reddish flecks that give the briar surface depth and character.I reunite the stem to the Modern Poker stummel and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to White Diamond compound to the Dremel.  With the speed set at the lowest for the Dremel, I apply the compound to the stem to bring out the gloss.  I don’t press hard on the wheel but allow the speed, the wheel and the compound to do the work.  After completing the application of compound to the stem, I mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel to apply Carnauba wax to both the blasted stummel and stem.  What I have grown to enjoy is the up close and personal approach that I have developed with the Dremel.  I am able to apply the carnauba wax by changing the orientation of the wheel to correspond to the terrain of the blasted surface.  This allows me to apply the wax strategically and to avoid too much or too little.  After completing a couple of applications of the wax, I give the Comoy’s Poker a rigorous hand buffing with a mircromesh towel dispense any leftover wax and to raise the shine.

Oh my!  What a classic presentation of this Made in London England, Comoy’s Modern ¾ Bent Poker.  The blasted surface is beautiful – I love the 3 dimensional perspective of the grain.  The process of blasting is different from rustification.  When I started restoring pipes it took me a while to figure this out.  The blasting technique, which Comoy’s has certainly perfected over the years, gently removes the soft wood and leaves the contours of the harder wood of the grain peeks.  This leaves an intricate mosaic of grain pattern to enjoy by sight and by touch as one enjoys his (or her) favorite blend.  This vintage Comoy’s Pebble Grain 603 Bent Modern Poker is a keeper and I’m reluctantly giving him up!  A unique addition to anyone’s pipe collection.  Since Greg commissioned the Poker, he has first dibs on it when I put it into The Pipe Steward Store.  This Comoy’s Pebble Grain benefits the work of the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!