Tag Archives: Corn cob pipes

Refreshing & Restemming a Missouri Meerschaum Great Dane Spool


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother was going to pitch this old cob but when I saw it I told him to throw it in one of the boxes he sent my way. I figured I could do something with it. I think he told me that the stem had collapsed but I don’t remember. It didn’t matter anyway because the stems are not expensive to replace. It arrived several months ago and I chucked it in the pipes to be refurbished box and forgot about it. Yesterday (first day of my Christmas holiday time off work) I was going through the boxes and consolidating a bit. I came across this one and brought it to the work table. The bowl and shank were in pretty good condition – just a little cake in the bowl, lava on the rim and tars and oils in the shank. The stem looked ok other than some tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem. You might wonder why I would even bother cleaning up a cob, but remember that every pipe that comes across the worktable provides an opportunity to practice skills and potentially learn new ones. I took some photos of the pipe before I started to clean it up. I took a picture of the rim and bowl to show the condition of the light cake and the lava overflow and scorching on the back side of the rim top. Otherwise the bowl looked decent.I took some photos of the stem to have a look at it and see what I was going to do. You can see the dent in the stem on the first photo. I have circled it in red to make sure you can identify it. It looks like a dent but it actually was a collapse in the airway that was blocking it off part way. The cheap plastic stems on the cobs do not do well with heat in my experience. I have ruined a few of them trying to raise dents and even just from the heat of buffing them.I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board to remove the lava build up and scorched area on the back of the rim top. It cleaned up really well leaving behind a pretty pristine looking rim. The inner and outer edges were in good shape.I reamed the bowl with Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to take back the cake that had formed around the middle of the bowl and smooth out the inside walls. I ran a folded piece of sandpaper around the inner edge of the bowl to clean it up a bit.I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. At this point I was not sure what I would do with the stem so I figured I might as well clean it up.I sanded the top of the stem to see what I could do with the dent. I put a pipe cleaner in the airway and painted the surface with the flame of a lighter. The area did not lift but collapsed further. The stem was a going to be a loss. It was time to look for another one that would work on this pipe.Jeff had sent me a couple of bags of stems that he had picked up on Ebay. In one of them there were quite a few Missouri Meerschaum stems that might work. I found a nice looking reddish amber plastic one that was bent the same angle. It was new and unused and it would look really good with the spool cob. I put the two stems side by side and took a couple of photos. You will notice that the new stem is slightly shorter than the original but the shape and the bend were more classic and elegant.I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. Each pad brought more of a shine to the cob and it matched the rest of the bowl well. I gave it a coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a soft cloth. I put the new stem on the bowl and gave the pipe a hand buff with a microfiber cloth to give it a bit of a shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The cob is in great shape and the shank is made to look like a cob. The transparent red plastic stem looks really good with the golden yellow of the cob. This old cob has lots of life in it and it would be a great addition to anyone’s rack. Have you been wanting to give a cob a try? This is your chance to pick one up at a great price. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

 

Bringing new life to an old corn cob


Blog by Steve Laug

When I was in Idaho for the funeral of my mother in law my brother and I took the day after the funeral and went on a pipe hunt. He has been attending auctions and going to antique shops on his travels and he picked up some nice pipes that he passed on to me. I will be working on them for a few months. He also had visited several of the antique malls in Idaho Falls where we were. On that day we visited three of them. In one of them there were a few pipes that caught my fancy one of them was an old corn cob bent with a diamond shank. It was in rough shape in that the glue that usually seals the shank into the bowl was gone and it was pretty loose. The bowl was well smoked and had a cake that I would need to clean up. The rim was also blackened. The bowl has a hardwood plug in the bottom which adds to the durability of the pipe. One unique feature of this pipe was that the shank was made of cob. It had some dings and nicks on it. The bottom of the diamond shank bore the Missouri Meerschaum label. There was a brass band that protected the end of the shank. The stem was Redmanol or Bakelite – a nice rich red coloured plastic that had some tooth chatter but no deep tooth marks or cracks. The orifice button on the stem and the material it was made of made me pretty certain that this was an old timer – possibly from the 30s.

Typical of what happens when I find old pipes like this I can’t wait until I get home to start working on them. In this case I figured I wanted to stabilize the shank in the bowl so that it would not get damaged when I carried it home in my luggage. I bought some Elmer’s Wood Glue and used it to fill in the gap around the entrance of the shank to the bowl. I used it to also repair some of the nicks on the sides of the bowl and the shank. I gave it multiple coats to build it up so that shank bowl union was smooth and the dings and marks were also smooth. Of course being in a rush to work on it I forgot to take pictures of the pipe before or during the early stages of the repair. When I left for Vancouver the bowl and the shank transition were smooth and the nicks and dings were also smooth on the surface of the bowl. I need to sand them and feather them into the surface and take off some of the glue shine.Cob1

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Cob3 I lightly sanded the rim to remove the blackening and clean up that surface. I reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to a very thin coat. The bowl is still round so that will not take further work to fix it.Cob4

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Cob7 I cleaned out the bowl and shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol until they were clean. Due to the shank being cob I was careful how much alcohol I ran through it as I did not want to soften the shank any further by making it wet. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol again being careful to not damage the Redmanol material.Cob8 I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the too chatter on the top and bottom sides of the stem.Cob9

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Cob12 I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it immediately with 3200-4000 grit pads so that the micromesh had some bite to it. The oil provided a surface that allowed the micromesh pads to polish the stem. I dry sanded further with 6000-12000 grit pads and then buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and then buffed it with a clean flannel buff to give it a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to finish the polishing.Cob13

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Cob15 The finished pipe is shown in the photos below.Cob16

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Repairing an Over-Reamed Corn Cob Pipe


Blog by Greg Wolford

About three weeks ago I was contacted by fellow PSU member, and sometimes-contributor here, Astrid after she had an accident reaming a nice old corn cob pipe. Cob Pipe Pic.1

She had remembered reading about some work my grandson and I had done to a few of my cobs and was curious if I might be able to fix the chunk that had accidentally been removed when she was reaming her “Corn Dog”.  As you can see, it really is a nice old pipe, with a super (in my opinion) Bakelite stem; I was really looking forward to getting it in hand after seeing it.

As luck would have it, I have done several repairs of this type to different corn cob pipes, as well as using the general technique for everything from raising to bottom of bowls to repairing cracked bowls. So, I told her I would be happy to doctor the old cob up for her and she sent it out to me a few days later.

When the pipe arrived I had no idea of exactly what the extent of the damage was so I was anxious to see what the box from Canada held! I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of old pipes to tinker with (and keep) as well as a generous gift of tobacco. At the bottom of the box I finally found the old pipe, and was happy to see it was just about what I’d hoped it would be: Nothing too difficult! Here are a few photos of the rim damage:Old Cob (1)_edited-1Old Cob (2)_edited-1Old Cob (3)_edited-1Old Cob (4)_edited-1

You can see the “chip” was reasonably large, but it didn’t go through the bowl – a very good thing. I started my using a dental pick to lightly scrap the damaged area to remove any loose material; there was very little, most likely because Astrid had already cleaned the pipe very well.

The next step was to mix up a patch for the damaged area. Old Cob (5)_edited-1For this project I used a new tube of fireplace mortar/sealer; my old tube had turned into stone on me. I mention this because I have found that the different brands behave differently when dry: some are impervious to moisture, while others are not. I have found that mixing in a little cigar ash (other fine ash will work too) makes the patch solid but allows for moisture and to go through to the briar (or cob in this case) and disperse better. I also mix in a little powdered activated carbon; I use the capsules now, instead of the messy process of grinding it up myself. The activated carbon does two things: it filters out any potential taste in the first few smokes that the mortar/ash patch might have and it makes it much darker, thus blending in better. The addition of these to components also makes the patch set much faster so you need to have some water on-hand to mix it right; you are looking for a dough-like consistency, wetter for longer working time. After mixing the “putty” up I began applying it with an old pipe tool’s spoon end, working it in to make a nice, Old Cob (6)_edited-1even surface, except for the top, where I left a small gap to blend in later. You can see the still wet patch in this photo, after I had smoothed it out; I used a flashlight to make the repair area easier to photograph. I then took a small amount of powdered carbon and sprinkled it onto the patch to make it blacker and less noticeable. I then set the pipe aside until morning to allow the repair to cure.

The next day it had hardened into a night patch. But, as it sometimes does, the patch had shrunken. I mixed up a little pipe mud and applied it over the patch to make it more flush inside. You can see the result of the second patch in this photo.Old Cob (8)_edited-1 You can also see here the “dip” I left in the rim; I did this to blend in the rim with wood putty.

As I was waiting on the pipe mud to dry, I took a damp cotton swab and cleaned off the rim of the pipe to make sure there was nothing to keep the next patch layer from sticking and to lighten the bit of residue on the rim already. I then applied some Elmer’s Natural Wood Putty to the rim. Again, this is something you want a little water on-hand to work with and smooth the repair as you go.Old Cob (9)_edited-1 I used both a cotton swab and my finger to apply the wood putty, shaping it as I went, but applying a little extra in case it shrank.Old Cob (10)_edited-1 After I was happy with the wood putty patch I used some of the pipe mud and charcoal powder to mute the brightness of the rim repair. This would ultimately be sanded and stained so I didn’t spend too much time or effort on this step, only on making sure the inside or outside of the bowl didn’t have an excess on them.

The weather was rainy and humid during the time that I worked on this pipe so extra drying time was required on each step/patch. At this point I set the pipe aside for a couple of days to be assured that everything was well dried and cured before I moved onto the final shaping and stain blending.

When I came back to the pipe I checked to make certain the repairs were all well cured, and they were: very solid feeling all the way around. Now it was time to shape the rim; I wanted to get the top nice and even but didn’t want to take away the character of the rim so I opted to lightly top the bowl with 400 grit wet/dry paper, checking often. Old Cob (13)_edited-1After I was satisfied with the rim being level, I used the same sandpaper to touch up the edges just a bit. Looking well-shaped to my eye, I broke out the stain markers I so often rely on, choosing the lightest color I had for staining and blending the rim.

All in all, I think this was a successful repair job that came out quite well. I am sure that after a few gentle smokes that the rim will take on an even more “natural” and blended look. And best of all, I think this old corn cob pipe will provide many more years of good service to Astrid – and maybe even to someone else down the road!Old Cob (11)_edited-1 Old Cob (12)_edited-1

 

A Quick and Easy Face Lift for a Missouri Meerschaum Corn Cob Pipe


Blog by Greg Wolford

Recently I’d read a comment someplace about using wood filler to repair cracks and leaks in corn cob pipes. Being an avid fan and user of Missouri Meerschaum pipes, and needing a quick and fun project for me and my five year-old grandson to do, I decided to try it out on one of my cobs yesterday afternoon.

cob 2Legends are one of my favorites: they are cheap, of decent size, and readily available locally. I use them for potentially “rough” times, like outside or on the pontoon, and also to test new blends and smoke the occasional aromatic. I had one that had seem better days (I didn’t get a before picture since I was sort of occupied with Connor, my grandson) that had some cracking in the plaster and some blackened “kernels” in the middle; this would be our project!

We used a minimal amount of tools for this project: wood filler, 220-grit sandpaper, and a light brown furniture repair marker.cob toolsWe applied a nice, thin coat of the wood filler all over the cob bowl and let it dry, about 10 minutes I’d guess.  Then we took turns sanding the cob smooth with the sandpaper. I then topped the bowl a bit to remove most of the char and “gunk” that had built up. After it was nice and smooth we, again, took turns staining it with the furniture marker. It then needed a few minutes to dry.

Connor had such a good time he convinced me to do a second, almost new, pipe that really didn’t need any thing done to it. But since the little guy was having such a good time and is on the mend from a broken arm and surgery to set it, how could I not do it? You are right: There was no way not to!

cob 3The middle pipe is the one I set out to make repairs on, compared to a new in the package one and the almost new one. This project took us probably 20 minutes, maybe less, from start to finish and it was so simple, well, a five year-old can do it!

One Just for Fun – Restemming a Tall Stack Cob


In the grab bag from the antique mall was a tall corn cob bowl. It is not exactly a MacArthur style cob as it is designed with a weighted bottom portion of cob attached to the bowl. The bottom portion appears to be filled with Plaster of Paris. The drilling of the bowl went down into the bottom portion slightly. There was no shank or stem for the bowl in my box. The cob bowl itself was unsmoked and truly new stock. I have no idea how the stem came to be lost but my guess is that the glue dried out and the stem and shank became unattached and somehow separated from the bowl. I looked at it when I opened the grab bag and almost threw it away. It was definitely not my style of pipe and with a stack that tall it would take hours to smoke a bowl. But I carried it home and it sat in the box until yesterday.

Last evening I was looking at some parts that were collecting dust on my work table – a piece of briar shank that I had liberated from a destroyed bowl, a cocobolo wood stem extension with a tenon turned on each end and a long stem that was without a tenon. I took out the cob bowl and laid out the parts next to each other. I thought to myself that it might be fun to put all the pieces together and see what I could do with them.
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It took very little sanding for the tenon on the cocobola extension to fit into the piece of briar. I sanded the other side of the extension and drilled out the end of the stem until the tenon fit into the stem as well.
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I mixed a batch of two part epoxy and glued the tenon extension to the stem and sanded the extension to fit the diameter of the stem. This took a bit of time as the extension was square and the stem round. But once the sanding was done it fit well and the transition was smooth. Then I debated on what to do with the briar piece. I could set it in the cob bowl and have a removable stem or I could attach it to the stem and make it a permanent feature. Looking at the size and weight of the bowl it seemed to make sense to make the stem one piece. I did not want to risk having the stem split the piece of briar or have the bowl fall off and damage the briar. So I used the epoxy to glue the briar to the stem as well.
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I sanded the briar with a Dremel to remove the excess material and to get it close to the same diameter as the stem extension. Once it was close I hand sanded the entire new extension with 220 grit sandpaper and medium and fine grit sanding sponges to make the joints between the materials seamless. The photo below shows the stem sanded and ready to insert into the cob bowl. I really liked the way the stem and extensions had turned out. The cocobolo band looked good against the briar on one side and the black vulcanite on the other.
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I drilled out the hole in the side of the cob to get a good snug fit of the shank to the bowl. I decided not to extend it as deeply into the bowl as the old shank had been but rather to extend it through the wall and then raise the bottom of the bowl with more Plaster of Paris. I glued the shank into the bowl with all purpose white glue.
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I used a dental pick to push glue deep into the joint of the stem and bowl before setting it aside to dry. I wanted the joint to dry solid with no gaps in the sides for air to enter or to weaken the connection.
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In the morning after the glue had dried all night I sanded the stem with a fine grit sanding sponge and then micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I also decided to stain the stem extension with some cherry Danish Oil and then sanded the extension to polish it.
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The stem was slightly twisted from age and sitting too long so I set up the heat gun and heated it until it straightened. Once it was straight I carefully bent it over my buffing motor to get a slight bend in the end of the stem.
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I buffed the stem carefully with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and give it a shine. I buffed the cob and stem with a soft flannel buff to finish the look and polish both bowl and stem. The finished pipe is pictured below. It was a fun experience to work with the various materials and see what I could craft with them. The joining of the shank extensions was part of my ongoing “education” in bonding materials together using the tenon to give strength to the joint. While the pipe is ungainly and huge it nonetheless has a certain charm and elegance to it. Whether I ever use it or just have it sitting in the cupboard as decoration working on it provided me with great lessons and several hours of enjoyment.
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A Pair of Rare Dunhill Cobs – Dunhillbillies


On a lark I restemmed a couple of my Missouri Meerschaum cobs a while back for a special pipe cleaning and polishing night hosted by our local Dunhill and Brigham Representative. He told us that if we brought our old pipes with oxidized stems he would buff them and polish them for us – no charge. Being a bit of a joker and handyman I scavenged in my can of stems and found two oxidized Dunhill white spot stems. These had just the right sized tenons to fit on a couple of old cobs that I had here. So with very little effort, I made them fit the shank. Just in case some of you are worried that I might have ruined them by trimming them back, I assure you that I did nothing to the stems other than clean them up a wee bit and then insert them into my cobs.

Thus armed I packed my trusty pipe bag – holds eight pipes. I included some other nice pipes that I wanted to have the benefit of having buffed but I also included the pair of Dunhill cobs. I waited for an opportune moment when the handy rep was at the buffing wheel. There was a lag in the number of gents coming to him for buffing work so I sidled over and handed him my good pipes first and he did a magnificent job cleaning and waxing them on his wheels. When he had finished them he asked if I had any others that I wanted him to take care of. I hemmed and hahed a bit and then said I had a couple but that they were very special and rare. I wanted to make sure that he would not damage them in any way. I emphasized the fact of their rarity by stating that in fact I had never seen or come across any like them in all the years I had been smoking a pipe.

With that I had hooked him and he turned off his buffer and looked inquiringly. I could see the look in his eye – full of questions. What kind of pipes could I possibly have that I was worried he would harm them? What could I have in my bag that I was slow to pull out and have him buff? I think he was a bit put out by my slow response. So now that I had him hooked I decided to work him a little bit and play with the hook. I began to spin the tale I had worked on earlier in the afternoon. I was enjoying every moment of this so I dragged it out a bit longer than necessary probably, but as I talked a small group of other pipesmokers had gathered around the wheel. We were all puffing on pipes of chosen tobaccos and everyone was interested.

I spun the tale of how I had come across these two special pipes in a cabinet at a local antique mall in Fort Langley, British Columbia. I had gotten the clerk to unlock the cabinet and carefully removed the pair from the cabinet. I looked each of them over carefully so as not to break them. After all I did not want to buy something that was worthless. Both pipes were a bit worn from wear and showed some charring at the rim but otherwise they were clean and seemed to be solid. The clerk said they were rare and who was I to argue as I had never seen anything like the two of them. The price for each was a kingly sum. At this point in my tale I looked at each of my listeners. But in particular I fixed my eyes on the buffing king. I wanted to emphasize the cost of these gems. Now my tale had captured the most dubious of them so I began to reel them in. I explained the stems and the slight oxidation that each had. I explained how they each had a white dot set in the vulcanite of the stems. At this point I am sure the buffing king was wondering if I had stumbled on a pair of early patent era Dunhills. All those listening to the tale know my proclivity for pipe scavenging and how I am pretty lucky in my finds. I honestly think that I had struck the motherlode of pipes finds.

The Dunhill Rep/buffing king was beside himself now. He wanted to see them now. He wanted to handle the two old timers and get a feel for their age and ply his skill in bringing the shine back to life on them both. But I wanted to set the hook a bit deeper so I continued talking about how I had carefully carried them to the cashier and shelled out the money for them. I talked of the deep shell finish on both and the almost amberlike brown of the bowls and shanks. Then as they were almost salivating I pulled the pair out of my bag and handed them to him with the bowls and shanks hidden in my hands. Just the two white spot stem poked out of my hands. I slowly and carefully opened my hands to reveal the treasure. I told him they were called Dunhillbillies. And with that everyone but him was just about rolling on the floor in laughter. They just shook their heads and few of them had choice comments for me. But the buffing king looked at me with a grimace and then he laughed loudly, shaking his head. I have to hand it to him as he did a great job buffing the pair. The pictures below show the twosome after his hard work. What do you think? Are they treasures or not?

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