Blog by Steve Laug
The second Comoy’s I picked up on the recent hunt was a beautifully shaped 225 Tradition. It is a shape that I love for its graceful flow and bend. The stamping on it was weak but visible under a lens. The left side of the shank was stamped Comoy’s over Tradition and the right side was stamped 225. I looked up the shape on Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages and found this page on a 1960’s catalogue http://pipepages.com/64com19s.htm . It is the 225 shape at the bottom of the page.
When I picked it up the pipe the stain on the briar was slightly faded. The stamping was weak. On the side where Comoy’s Tradition was stamped it is very faint, though still visible with light. On the side of the shank where the shape number was stamped the 2 and the 5 are clear and the middle 2 is very light. The bowl was caked and the rim was caked with tars and carbon build up. The inner bevel was clean and undamaged though dirty with tars and the outer edge was also very clean. The exterior of the pipe had no dents of dings. The stem was a replacement and was missing the usual step down tenon that I have come to expect and the existing tenon was shorter than normal. The stem itself was oxidized and had a large bite through on the underside. Of the six pipes (GBD and Comoy’s) that I picked up all but the little bulldog have the same issue.
The photo below shows a closer look at the bite through on the underside of the stem. It’s size, the length of the stem and the fact that it was an obvious replacement stem made my decision of whether to try to repair the hole or to cut the stem back quite easy to make.
I used a Dremel and sanding drum to cut the stem back to solid vulcanite and remove the damaged spot and the button. This would necessitate recutting and shaping a new button on the stem as well as reshaping the slot in the button.
After cutting it off I took it back to the worktable to prepare it for the new button. I wiped the stem down to remove the dust from cutting and to clean the surface so that I could get a good clean line on the button.
I used files, a wood rasp and various needle files to cut an edge for the new button on both the top and the bottom sides of the stem. I also used the files to cut back the stem on the slope before the new button on both sides of the stem. The stem needed to be thinned down from the button forward to the shank for more comfort in the mouth and to keep the graceful lines of the shape intact. I used the needle files to carve back the stem thickness and smooth out the lines so that the button did not look choked and pinched at the line. Once I had a clean slope on the stem previous to the button I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to further highlight the angles of the button.
I sanded the end of the new button to give it a slope toward the slot and to remove the sharp edge look of the new cut. I opened up the button to give it a funnelled shape to the airway and also made it oval. The side profile photos give a clear look at the stem and the angle of the stem previous to the new button.
I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to get rid of the cake and to clear away the debris from the inner edge of the bowl. I cleaned the rim with saliva on a cotton pad and scrubbed until I had removed the tars and buildup from both the top and the inner bevel of the rim.
I sanded the stem to further define the button and shape it using 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge. When I was happy with the overall shape of the stem, I sanded its entirety to remove the oxidation. I finished sanding it with my usual regimen of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads.
When I had finished sanding with the final grits of pads I put the stem in the shank and buffed it with red Tripoli to remove some of the scratches that still remained on the underside of the stem near the button and then buffed the whole stem with White Diamond. I lightly buffed the pipe as well before taking it back to the worktable to give it a top coat of red mahogany Minwax stain. I rubbed the stain on the bowl to bring back some of the reddish colour that I have found in my other Tradition pipes and used them to match the colour on this pipe.
I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil to preserve the vulcanite. And when the stain was dry I gave it a light buff with White Diamond. I finished by giving the entire pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to preserve and give it a shine. The finished pipe is picture below. It is cleaned and ready to continue a life of service.