Tag Archives: refinishing

New Life for a John Redman Root Grain Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from one of our pipe hunts back in 2018. It has been sitting here for 2 years. Jeff took photos in December of that year. Now I am finally getting a chance to work on it. The pipe is a classic apple-shaped rusticated pipe. The pipe was an absolute mess which probably accounted for how we ended up purchasing it for a fair price. On the underside of the heel and shank it is stamped with the Root Grain [over] Made in England. The stain is a mix of browns that makes the rustication look multidimensional even with the grime ground into the finish. It was very dirty with dust and debris in the grooves of the rustication. There was a light cake in the bowl and the rim top and edges look to be in good condition. The stem was oxidized, calcified and there were wax on the top and left side of the stem. There were light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stem had an R in a circle in white on the topside of the taper. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the condition of both. It was lightly caked and the rim top and edges look very good. The bowl was not smoked all the way to the bottom and showed raw briar. There was also a flaw or damage on the back right of the inner edge of the bowl. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the green wax, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface and button. Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The finish so dirty it is hard to see the variety of colours in the rustication but they are present nonetheless.  Jeff took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is faint but readable as noted above.  The stem had the R in a circle logo on the top side.  It was obscured in the photo below. The thick waxy substance on the stem is also visible.I did a search on Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-j3.html#johnredman) and looked for the specific stem logo – circle R. The pipe I am working on is stamped Root Grain over Made in England. The circle R logo on the stem top took me to the listing for John Redman Ltd. I have included a screen capture of the section below.This pipe was a bit of a mess like many of the pipes we work on. I was curious to see what it would look like when I unpacked it. I was surprised at how good it looked. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem 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. The finish on the bowl looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked very good. The inner edge showed just the one flaw on the right read of the bowl. He scraped the wax off the stem surface and then soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked better other than the light oxidation that remained and the light tooth marks and chatter on the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked much better than when he found it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.    I took photos of the condition of the rim top and stem before I started working. The rim top looks very good. The bowl is spotless and you can see the end of the inner tube in the bottom of the bowl. The stem has light oxidation remaining and some tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button.    I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The first line is quite readable and the second is faint but still readable.I took the bowl and stem apart and took a photo of the pipe to show the look of the pipe. The pipe has an inner tube that is inserted in the shank. It is clean and removable.I decided to work on the flaw/damage on the right rear of the beveled inner edge of the rim. I filled in the two flaws with clear super glue (CA). Once it cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and wiped it down with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding debris.   I polished the smooth rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad to remove debris. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, rim top and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain and the separate finishes really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl really looks good at this point. I set it aside and worked on the stem. I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned up the tooth chatter and marks with 220 sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I scrubbed the stem down with Soft Scrub All-purpose Cleaner to remove the remaining oxidation.    I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a heavier touch with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the smooth finish and the black vulcanite stem. This richly stained John Redman Root Grain Apple is light weight and ready for you to load up a tobacco of preference and enjoy breaking it in for yourself. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 36grams/1.27oz. This is one that will go on the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

New Life for a BBB Own Make Thorneycroft 130 Prince


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a fellow from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. It has been sitting here for just over 2 years. Jeff took photos more than a year ago. Now I am finally getting a chance to work on it. The pipe is a classic Prince-shaped sandblasted pipe. The pipe was an absolute mess which probably accounted for how we ended up purchasing it for a fair price. On the underside of the heel and shank it is stamped with the BBB Diamond Logo [over] Own Make. To the right side of that it is stamped Thorneycroft followed by Made in England with a large E framing that part of the stamp. The stain is a mix of blacks and browns that makes the sandblast stand out even with the grime. The finish was very dirty with dust and debris in the grooves of the blast. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a thick overflow of lava onto the rim top and edges. It was hard to know at this point the condition of the rim edges. The shank was so dirty that the stem did not seat properly against the shank end. The stem was oxidized, calcified and there were deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. The stem had the brass BBB Diamond inlaid into the topside of the taper. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the condition of both. It was thick and hard cake with an unbelievably thick lava overflow on the rim top and edges. Hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface and button. The tooth marks are quite deep on both sides of the stem.     Jeff took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The finish so dirty it is hard to see the grain but it is present nonetheless.  Jeff took photos of the stamping on the top and right side of the shank. It is very clear and readable as noted above.   The stem had the BBB Brass logo on the top side. One the underside it is stamped with the number 130 which is the shape number.I did a search on Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-bbb.html) and looked for the specific Thorneycroft line. The second pipe in the list is stamped the same way as the one that I am working on and the stamping on the stem is the same. The Made in England stamp is identical to the second one.This pipe was a bit of a mess like many of the pipes we work on. I was curious to see what it would look like when I unpacked it. I was surprised at how good it looked. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem 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. The finish on the bowl looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked very good. The inner edge showed no damage and outer edges looked good. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked better other than the tooth marks and chatter in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked much better than when he found it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.  I took photos of the condition of the rim top and stem before I started working. The rim top looks better than before and the damage is very obvious to the rim top and the inner edge. The bowl is spotless. The stem has some deep tooth marks on both sides and the button itself.   I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.  I took the bowl and stem apart and took a photo of the pipe to show the look of the pipe. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, rim top and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain and the separate finishes really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl really looks good at this point. I set it aside and worked on the stem.    I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift them as much as possible. I filled in the remaining tooth dents and marks with Black Super Glue and set it aside for the repairs to cure. Once they cured I flattened them with a file. I cleaned up the repaired areas with 220 sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine.    Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a heavier touch with Blue Diamond 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the smooth finish and the black vulcanite stem. This richly stained BBB Own Make Thorneycroft 130 Prince must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 31grams/1.09oz. This is one that will go on the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Breathing Life into an Italian Made Smooth Finish Bullmoose


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from a group of pipes that Jeff picked up in an online auction in Brookfield, Wisconsin, USA. It is a chunky Bullmoose with a saddle stem. The stamping is clear and readable on the shank/stem junction and reads Made in Italy. The filthy oils and grimes are ground into the finish of the bowl. The thick grime makes the grain almost invisible but from what I can see there is some amazing grain that the Bullmoose shape follows well. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. The vulcanite saddle stem was oxidized, calcified and had light tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button.  Jeff took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before he started working on it. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake and the lava overflow. The photos of the stem show the light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides.    The photos of the sides and heel of the bowl show the grain around the pipe. It is a beauty under the grime and dust.     The stamping on the underside of the shank is shown in the photo below. It is very readable. It reads as noted and explained above.   I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had carried out his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned the reaming up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the bowl off with running water. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and once it had soaked rinsed it off with warm water to remove the residual solution. He dried it off and rubbed it down to remove any oxidation that was still on the stem. The pipe looked very clean when I received it.  I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition. You can see the damage on the inner edge on the left front. It is roughened and chipped and out of round. The saddle stem came out looking quite good. There are light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. You can also see the only stamping on the pipe in the third photo below at the shank/stem junction it reads Made in Italy. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts to show what I was working with. It is a nice looking pipe.I decided to start the restoration on this one by dealing with a crack in the shank. I have drawn a box around it in the photo below. It goes from the shank end into the shank about ½ of an inch. It is a hairline crack. I painted the shank end with some all-purpose glue and pressed a thin brass band on the shank end. I wiped the shank end down afterward with a damp cloth to remove the glue that squeezed out.I wiped down the shank with a damp cloth and dried it off. I put the stem on the shank and took photos of the pipe as it looked with the new bling.    I removed the stem from the shank and worked on the damage to the rim top. I worked the inner edge over with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the rim edge a slight bevel. I then topped the bowl on a 220 grit sandpaper topping board. I smoothed out the top with some more 220 grit sandpaper.    I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar really took on a shine by the final pads.  With the repair completed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the twin lines around the bullcap. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm.      I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The stem was rough and pitted so I sanded it smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.    Before polishing the stem further I decided to give a slight bend to match the flow of the curve in the pipe. I heated it with a heat gun until it was pliable (I put a pipe cleaner in the airway to make sure it did not collapse).  I bent the stem the angle I wanted and set it by cooling it with running water while holding the shape. I took a photo of the new look of the stem.   I polished the vulcanite by wet sanding with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     This Italian Made Smooth Finish Bullmoose is a beautiful pipe with a smooth finish. It is a bit of a mystery in that there is no other stamping on the pipe. It is a great looking pipe that came out looking very good. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition. The rich medium brown stain on the bowl works well to highlight the grain. The brass band is a nice touch of bling that separates the briar from the stem. The polished black vulcanite saddle stem adds to the mix. With the dust gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and is eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Italian Made Bullmoose is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 58 grams/2.05oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Breathing Life into a 1955 Dunhill Tanshell 48 F/T Group 4 Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from a group of pipes that Jeff picked up on one of his pipe hunts along the Oregon Coast, USA. It is a Dunhill TanShell Briar Bulldog that is in great condition. It is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. On the heel of the bowl it is stamped with the shape number 48F/T followed by Dunhill [over] Tanshell Briar followed by Made in England 5. That is followed by 4 in a circle followed by T for Tanshell. Interpreting that stamp it is as follows: The 48 is the shape for a straight saddle stem Bulldog and the F/T is the designation for the button shape – a Fish Tail stem. The Dunhill Tanshell is the finish which is corroborated the T at the end of the stamping. The 5 following the D of England gives the date the pipe was made and identifies it as 1955. The stamping is clear and readable. The age of the pipe and the oils in the sandblast finish has given the pipe a rich medium brown finish. There is also some amazing grain that the shape follows well. The finish was dirty with dust around the nooks and crannies of the sandblast. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. The vulcanite saddle stem was oxidized and had light tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button.  Jeff took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before he started working on it. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake and the lava overflow. The photos of the stem show the light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides.  The photos of the sides and heel of the bowl show the deep sandblast grain on the pipe. It is a beauty under the grime and dust.    The stamping on the underside of the shank is shown in the photo below. It looks very good and readable. It reads as noted and explained above. The third photo shows the white spot on the stem.   I turned to Pipedia’s section on Dunhill Tanshell Pipes to get a bit of background on the Duhill finishes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). I quote:

Tanshell

The first lot was distributed in 1952 (usually made using Sardinian briar). The prototype was called “Root Shell “, produced in 1951. The Tanshell is a light tan sandblast. Sardinian briar was used for this sandblast. There is a distinct contrast in the sandblasts using Sardinian as opposed to Algerian briar. The Sardinian is much denser and much harder. The resulting pattern, when blasted, is far more even and regular both in terms of the surface texture and the finish.

The TanShell was Dunhill’s fourth finish and its first major post-war line addition. Introduced in 1951/1952 the TanShell was a naturally stained sandblasted pipe made exclusively from Sardinian briar through the 1960s. The TanShell apparently was not simply a light stained Shell but rather was also the product of “certain processes [unrevealed] not previously employed.” Initially, it appears that the pipe was to be named the Root Shell and a stamp to that effect was ordered and received by Dunhill in May 1951. Ultimately, however, the name TanShell was settled upon but the stamp for the TanShell name was not received by Dunhill until the beginning of December. Thus while the Tanshell was in production in 1951 it appears that most if not all TanShells made in that year did not enter into retail distribution until 1952 and were given a 1952 date code. Loring, J. C., The Dunhill Briar Pipe, The Patent Years and After (self-published, Chicago, 1998).

I have also included a chart from the site from Dunhill spelling out the Standard Pipe Finishes and giving short information and a timeline.I turned to Pipephil’s dating guide to show how I arrived at the date of manufacture for this pipe (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1a.html). I am including the chart that is provided there for the dating a pipe. I have drawn a red box around the section. Since the pipe I am working on has a smaller raise 5 it points to the 1950+ suffix line on the chart below.I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had carried out his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned the reaming up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the bowl off with running water. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and once it had soaked rinsed it off with warm water to remove the residual solution. He dried it off and rubbed it down to remove any oxidation that was still on the stem. The pipe looked very clean when I received it.  I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition. You can see the damage on the inner edge on the left front. It is roughened and chipped and out of round. The saddle stem came out looking quite good. There are light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.   I took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the stamping. It is clear and readable with some faint spots. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts to show what I was working with. It is a nice looking pipe.I decided to start the restoration on this one by working on the damage to the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge of the rim a slight bevel to bring it back into round.  While the finished rim edge is not perfect it is far better. I used a brass bristle tire brush to clean up the darkening on the rim top and clean up the sandblast portion.    With the repair completed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the tooth marks on the stem to lift them up. I was able to lift them to the point that I would be able to polish out those that remained with micromesh pads.    I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This Dunhill 48F/T Tanshell Bulldog is a beautiful sandblast with the unique Sandblast finish made in 1955. It is a great looking pipe that came out looking very good. The Tanshell finish has a great rugged sandblast that Dunhill specialized in making. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition. The oils off the smoker’s hands and the tan stain on the bowl works well to highlight the grain. The polished black vulcanite saddle stem adds to the mix. With the dust gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and is eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished 48 F/T Tanshell Briar Bulldog is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 29grams/1.02oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Fresh Life for a Butz-Choquin Camargue Bent Rhodesian Sitter


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a fellow in Taylor, Michigan, USA.  The pipe is classic looking Butz-Choquin that has a marbleized acrylic shank extension.  The pipe is stamped on the sides of the shank. On the left side of the shank it reads Butz-Choquin [over] Camargue and on the right side it reads St. Claude [arched over] France [over] the shape number 1021. The stain is a mix of browns that contrasts well with the marble like shank extension. The finish was very dirty with grime ground into the finish making it hard to see beyond that to the grain underneath. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava onto the rim top and edges. It was hard to know at this point the condition of the rim edges. The stem in the photos came from a different pipe that Jeff and I purchased from the same seller. It was a Caminetto pipe stem with the mustache on the top of the saddle. The Caminetto had the stem from this pipe so they would need to be switched. The original stem had no stamping or identifying marks on it. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the condition of both. It was thick and hard cake but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the condition of both sides.    Jeff took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. It has thick grime on the surface and ground into the finish.  There were also a few visible fills around bowl. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the shank sides to capture it. It is very clear and readable.  Dal Stanton had written a blog on his restoration of a Carmargue pipe for rebornpipes in the past (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/12/04/rejuvenating-a-fancy-french-butz-choquin-camargue-1683-prince/) I turned to that now for a quick review of the history of the line. I quote:

I’ve worked on several Butz Choquin pipes which is based in the French pipe center of St. Claude.  Here is a brief overview of the BC history from http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html

The origin of the brand reaches back to 1858 when Jean-Baptiste Choquin in collaboration with his son-in-law Gustave Butz created their first pipe in Metz (France). Since 1951 Butz-Choquin Site officiel Butz Choquin, pipes de Saint-Claude Jura. BC pipe de bruyere luxe is a brand of the Berrod-Regad group (Saint-Claude, France).

Jean Paul Berrod managed the company from 1969 to 2002 when he retired and sold the corporate to Mr Fabien Gichon. Denis Blanc, already owner of EWA, took over the S.A. Berrod-Regad in 2006.

The BC line, ‘Camargue’ is not an old line as a simple search on the internet turns up several examples of classic pipe shapes with the ‘Camargue’ stamp, but unique to each is the acrylic shank extension and the military mounted stem.  This example is a Dublin shape from https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/france/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=189826Dal had also done some research on the name Camargue that I have included below. For me this kind of information adds colour to the restoration that I am working on.

The name of the line, ‘Camargue,’ I discovered is a treasured nature reserve on the southern coast of France between Montpellier and Marseille – two beautiful venues which I’ve had the opportunity to visit. A Wiki article was very helpful in describing the area that this BC line is commemorating (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camargue).

With an area of over 930 km2 (360 sq mi), the Camargue is western Europe’s largest river delta. It is a vast plain comprising large brine lagoons or étangs, cut off from the sea by sandbars and encircled by reed-covered marshes. These are in turn surrounded by a large cultivated area.

Approximately a third of the Camargue is either lakes or marshland. The central area around the shoreline of the Étang de Vaccarès has been protected as a regional park since 1927, in recognition of its great importance as a haven for wild birds. In 2008, it was incorporated into the larger Parc naturel régional de Camargue.

The Camargue is home to more than 400 species of birds and has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International.[8] Its brine ponds provide one of the few European habitats for the greater flamingo. The marshes are also a prime habitat for many species of insects, notably (and notoriously) some of the most ferocious mosquitos to be found anywhere in France. Camargue horses (Camarguais) roam the extensive marshlands, along with Camargue cattle (see below).

The native flora of the Camargue have adapted to the saline conditions. Sea lavender and glasswort flourish, along with tamarisks and reeds…This pipe was a real mess like many of the pipes we work on. I was curious to see what it would look like when I unpacked it. I was surprised at how good it looked. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem 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. The finish on the bowl looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked much better and the inner and outer edges were looking good. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. I swapped the stems between the Caminetto and the BC to get the correct stems with the pipes. This stem looked very good. There was no tooth chatter or damage on either side. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.  I took photos of the condition of the rim top and stem before I started working. The rim top looks better than before and other than some slight darkening there is no other damage. The bowl is spotless. The newly found stem is in great condition and should polish well.    I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. The shank extension was loose so I removed it and the stem and took the following photo to give a sense of the pipe as a whole.  I decided to start my work on this pipe by regluing the shank extension to the end of the shank. I cleaned out the shank with alcohol on a cotton swab, then coated the tenon on the shank extension with all-purpose glue and then turned it into the shank. I aligned the angles and wiped off the excess glue and set it aside to cure. I worked over the beveled rim edge and top with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the darkening on the rear and right front of the bowl.   I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar really took on a shine by the final pads.    I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain and the separate finishes really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for 10-15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl really looks good at this point. I set it aside and worked on the stem.   I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine.    Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a heavier touch with Blue Diamond 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the combination of rustication and smooth finishes. The black vulcanite stem stands out as a shiny black contrast to the colours of the bowl. This medium brown stained Butz-Choquin Camargue Bent Rhodesian Sitter must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inch. The weight of the pipe is 42grams/1.48oz.  This is one that will go on the French Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Fresh Life for a Comoy’s Marble Arch 78 Apple with a Military Bit


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction from St. Albans, West Virginia, USA.  The pipe is classic looking Comoy’s Apple that has a marbleized acrylic shank extension.  The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Comoy’s [over] Marble Arch. On the right side of the shank it has the Comoy’s COM stamp Made in London in a circle over England followed by the shape number 78. The stain is a mix of browns and blacks that contrasts well with the marble like shank extension. The finish was very dirty with grime ground into the finish making it hard to see beyond that to the grain underneath. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava onto the rim top and edges. It was hard to know at this point the condition of the rim edges. The stem was oxidized and calcified and looked to be stuck in the shank extension. There were not many tooth marks or chatter but there was a large chip of vulcanite out of the button on the underside. The stem had the inlaid three part C logo on the left side. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the condition of both. It was thick and hard cake but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the condition of both sides. The underside has a large chip missing out of the button end.     Jeff took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. It has thick grime on the surface and ground into the finish.  Jeff took photos of the stamping on the shank sides to capture it. It is very clear and readable.  The next photos show the fit of the stem in the shank extension and the tars and gunk that locked in place. The stem has the older 3 part C inset on the left side.  When Jeff turned the stem to remove it from the shank the shank extension came off instead. The glue on the tenon that held it in place had dried and the extension was loose.This pipe was a real mess like many of the pipes we work on. I was curious to see what it would look like when I unpacked it. I was surprised at how good it looked. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem 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. The finish on the bowl looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked much better and the inner and outer edges were looking good. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked better other than some light oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter in the surface. The chipped button on the underside of the stem was clean but very visible. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.  I took photos of the condition of the rim top and stem before I started working. The rim top looks better than before and other than some slight darkening there is no other damage. The bowl is spotless. The stem is lightly oxidized and has some major damage on the underside at the button. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. At this point I tried to remove the stem from the shank extension and was surprised with the shank extension came off and the stem was not moveable. I tried to twist it and it was stuck solid in the extension.I decided to start my work on this pipe by separating the shank extension and the stem. I put it in the freezer overnight and it had no effect. It was still stuck. I used a folded pipe cleaner to drizzle acetone down the joint of the extension and the stem. I continued that process for the better part of a day. Finally last evening I was able to wiggle the stem free from the extension. Both were incredibly dirty at the junction. It was going to take a bit of work to get a clean fit.  I cleaned out the shank and then coated the tenon on the shank extension with all-purpose glue and then turned it into the shank. I wiped off the excess glue and set it aside to cure. Once the glue cured I cleaned out the inside of the shank extension with alcohol and cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It was smooth and clean.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar really took on a shine by the final pads.    I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain and the separate finishes really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for 10-15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl really looks good at this point. I set it aside and worked on the stem.    I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. It was time to work on the broken off part of the button. I put a piece of clear packing tape on a piece of cardboard. I opened two capsules of charcoal powder and mixed it with some Locktite 380 Black CA glue. I mixed them together with a dental pick and a spatula.  I coated a folded cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the button. I filled in the damaged area with the mixture of charcoal powder and super glue.

Once the repair cured I flattened it with a rasp and a small file. I cleaned up the repaired areas with 220 sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I sanded the repaired area and the rest of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the button edges.  I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine.   Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a heavier touch with Blue Diamond 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the combination of rustication and smooth finishes. The black vulcanite stem stands out as a shiny black contrast to the colours of the bowl. This dark stained Comoy’s Marble Arch 78 Apple must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inch. The weight of the pipe is 38grams/1.34oz.  This is one that will go on the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

 

Breathing Life into an Italian Made Octagonal “Setter” Real Briar Don


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased from an online auction from Barbourville, Kentucky, USA. It was an interesting looking golden brown octagonal sitter in a shape that I call a Don. The stem is inserted in the small ferrule on the backside of the bowl. The smooth finish on the bowl was very dirty and worn. There were fills but all was covered by a thick coat of shiny varnish. The pipe was filthy but otherwise in surprisingly good condition. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed as lava on the beveled inner edge of the rim top. The outer edge of the rim was in good condition. The pipe is stamped on the heel of the bowl and reads “Setter” [over] Real Briar [over] Italy. The stamping is clear and readable on the pipe. The stem was oxidized and there were light tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides. There was no logo or brand mark on the stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he worked on it. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. The bowl had a thick cake and lava overflowed on the beveled inner edge of the bowl. The stem is oxidized, calcified and dirty and there is tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button.     Jeff took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed looking at the back of the of the bowl to give a sense of the shape of the pipe. The stamping on the heel of the bowl read as noted above. The photo shows that it is very readable.    I looked in all my usual places for information on the “Setter” brand and came up with nothing. I turned to Who Made that Pipe and found two listings that gave some interesting possibilities for me. It could have been made for Hudson’s Universal Pipes or from KB&B/Kaywoodie. It could easily have been made by either company from Italian briar. I suppose I will never know for sure.Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the vulcanite stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. When the pipe arrived and I unpacked it the stem was broken off at the end. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.     The rim top and edges cleaned up really well. The stem surface looked very good with some light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the top side and the underside near the button. The stamping on the heel of the bowl is clear and readable. It reads as noted above.     I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole.  I started my work on the pipe by removing the thick varnish coat that made the pipe look like it was not real briar. I wiped it down with acetone on a cotton pad and was able to remove a lot of the varnish. On one side of the octagon there was a fill that had some chips in it. I filled in those areas with clear CA glue. Once the repair cured I sanded the entire bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repair and to remove the last of the varnish. I started the polishing with 400 wet dry sandpaper to deal with scratches left behind. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar began to take on a rich glow. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips into the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10-15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine.    In the morning I headed back to the basement to work on the stem. My eldest daughter is visiting and her little MinPin/Chihuahua Frankie came down with me. He has been hanging out with me keeping me company. He seems to know there is a hole in our hearts and he is stepping in to fill it! We set up a bed and his food and water near the desk where Spencer used to sleep and he loves snoozing there. This morning he came downstairs with me and stood by my chair. He made it clear that he wanted up. He jumped on my lap and then onto the desk top and sat down on my left to “supervise” what I was doing. He was content to just sit and watch me. Every so often he would give me a smooch to let know he was watching. I captured this photo with the camera on the computer… the Spencer’s supervisor role has been handed to the next generation… at least when he is visiting.Once he was settled I turned my attention to the stem. I scrubbed the oxidation with Soft Scrub cleanser and was able to remove the majority of it. The rest would polish and buff out.     I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    This little octagonal “Setter” Real Briar Don Pipe turned out to be a great looking pipe. The smooth finish and brown stain around the eight bowl sides make the grain just pop. The finish on the pipe looks great without the thick varnish coat and the brown stains work well to highlight the grain around the bowl. The polished thin military style vulcanite taper stem adds a nice contrast when inserted in the nickel ferrule. The pipe is really quite eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the heel of the bowl. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished “Setter” is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe was 22g/.81oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. This “Setter” Don will be added to the Italian Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Breathing Life into a Canadian Made Paradis Porte St. Louis Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased from an online auction from Romney, West Virginia, USA. It was an interesting looking golden brown bent billiard with a variegated orange/brown acrylic stem. The smooth finish on the bowl was very dirty and worn. The pipe was filthy and there was significant rim top and edge damage. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed as lava on the rim top. It is hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like under the lava coat. The outer edge of the rim had some chips around the edges. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Paradis [over] Porte St. Louis on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped with the number 76 which is either the shape number of the year the pipe was made. The name Porte St. Louis refers to a historic gate in Old Quebec that is part of the city’s extensive fortification system.  The stem was dirty and there were light tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides. There was Paradis cursive P logo on the left side of the acrylic taper stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he worked on it.Jeff took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. The bowl had a thick cake and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge looked like but the outer edge was a mess. Looking at the outside of the bowl from the top down it is not round and is thinner toward the back. The inside of the bowl is still quite round. The stem is lightly oxidized, calcified and dirty and there is tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button.   Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There is some nice grain on the piece of briar. The stamping on the sides of the shank read as noted above. The photos show that they are very readable. The P logo on the left side of the stem is in good condition.    I turned first to Pipephil’s site for a quick summary (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-p1.html). I have included a screen capture of the information on the site.The Paradis brand was made by the Paradis brothers in Quebec but did not remember much more than that so I turned to Pipedia for more information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Paradis_Pipes) and learned the following:

Paradis Pipes is the Canadian brand of the brothers Gilles and Fernand Paradis. In 1922 the Paradis family moved to the USA, when Lucien Paradis (1906-1979) was 16 years old. It was at this age that he started as an apprentice at his uncle’s pipe factory, Joseph B. Desjardins, maker of (JD) pipes, in Fall River, MA. Joseph Desjardins was issued two patents during this period, one for a new machine for making pipe stems and another for a new design of pipe reamer. The company employed 60 workers at one stage.

In 1930, due to the Great Depressions, Lucien lost his job and returned to Quebec to work in the agricultural machine industry. In his spare time, he made pipes, selling them door to door. Three years later the rest of the family joined him and Lucien founded a pipe factory with two of his brothers. The company eventually employed 18 workers and in the 60s produced over 50 thousand pipes a year, under brands like JBL, Dr. Thomas, Fernand Gignac, S.C. Pipes, New London Golfer, and Jo Thomassin.

Paradis was founded in 1978, at the Salon of Quebec Artisans’ and is available in tobacconists all over the country today. The brand produces 8000 pipes a year (400 “handmade”), with Greek briar (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Paradis_Pipes).

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the acrylic stem Soft Scrub cleanser and rinsed it off with warm water. When the pipe arrived and I unpacked it the stem was broken off at the end. There was about a ¼ inch of the stem and the entire button was in the bottom of the bag that the pipe was packed in. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.  The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top and outer edge of the bowl show damage from being knocked against a hard surface. There is some darkening on the beveled inner edge of the bowl and bowl is slightly out of round.  The stem surface looked very good with tooth marks and chatter on the top side and the underside near the button.The stamping on the sides of the shank is clear and readable. It reads as noted above.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole.  I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge of the bowl and the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had it cleaned up the rim top damage was minimized. I sanded the outer edge of the bowl with the sandpaper to smooth out the damage.  I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar began to take on a rich glow.  I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips into the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10-15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    This Paradis Porte St Louis Bent Billiard is a great looking pipe. The smooth finish and brown stain around the bowl sides and shank make the grain just pop. The finish on the pipe looks great and the brown stains work well to give some contrast to the polished variegated orange/brown acrylic taper stem. The pipe is really quite eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Paradis Bent Billiard is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe was 38g/1.34oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. This Canadian Made Bent Billiard will be added to the Canadian Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

A Farewell to my Work Buddy Spencer – A Comoy’s Extraordinaire 804 Rusticated Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The pipe on the work table now came to us from one of Jeff’s pipe hunts on the Oregon Coast back in 2018. It turns out that it is the last pipe that I will have worked on with my Supervising Buddy Spencer, my Black and Tan Cocker Spaniel. While I was working on the rim top this morning he slipped over the rainbow bridge curled at my feet in his usual place. I will miss his presence and his wet nose nudging me for a treat…

This is a big pipe at 9 ½ inches long and 2 ½ inches tall. It is stamped on the heel of the bowl and reads Comoy’s [over] Extraordinaire followed by the shape number 804. It is a handful that is for sure. The deeply rusticated finish has a beauty of its own. It is a dirty pipe with a lot of dust and debris deep in the rusticated grooves of the rustication. The rim top is covered in a coat of lava overflowing from the thick cake in the bowl. When you realize how big the bowl is and then see that the cake fills in over half of the bowl you can see how thick it is. The cake is rock hard and will be a bear to ream out. It is hard to know the condition of the inner edge but the front outer edge has some damage from being knocked hard on something to remove the dottle from the bowl. The stem is probably a replacement and does not have an inset C on the side or topside. It is an old one in that it has the same feel as the Solid Rubber stems. It is oxidized, calcified and has deep tooth marks on the underside near the button and chatter on the top side. It will be an interesting looking pipe once it is cleaned up. Jeff took these photos before he started his cleanup work.The next photo Jeff took gives a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the rim top. It is one well-loved pipe and the previous pipeman must have smoked it all the time. It is a good sign that it is a great smoker. He also took photos of the stem to show the oxidation and the toot marks on the surface. The top side is in better condition than the underside.  He took photos of the sides and heel of the pipe to show the overall condition of the finish on the bowl. It is a deep swirling rustication. The next photo shows the stamping on the heel of the bowl. It reads as noted above. The stamping is readable but the Extraordinaire and shape number 804 are faint.I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-comoy.html) to look up the Extraordinaire line. I did a screen capture of the second on the line and have included it below. The sidebar on the left of the picture below reads: The “Extraordinaire” designation was given to either oversized pipes or to unusual pipes. This pipe fits both designations – it is large and it is unusual.I turned to Pipedia’s section on Comoy’s (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Comoy%27s). It gives a great history of the brand and toward the bottom of the page it had the picture below. It shows a contrast between the Extraordinaire 804 and a Group 4 sized Dunhill 120 for comparison. The caption below the photo says that this pipe is a 1930’s Comoy’s pipe.

1930’s Comoy’s 804 Extraordinaire shown with a 1965 Group 4 sized Dunhill 120 (which is the equivalent of a Group 5 size today) for size comparison – Courtesy of Mike Ahmadi.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top had some slight darkening on the back of the bowl and some damage to the inner edge on the back. The outer edge is rough on the front and the right side from knocking the pipe against something hard. It is hard to know if the rim top was rusticated or smooth from the damage on it. The back rim top looks like it may have been rusticated. The stem surface had deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.   I took a photo of the stamping on the heel of the bowl. It reads as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge and the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to minimize the damage.  I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage to the rim top and outer edges of  the bowl. I used some clear super glue and briar dust to rebuild the front outer edge and the right side edge and then retopped the bowl. With the top and rim edge cleaned up I used my Dremel and the burrs shown in the photo below to rusticate the rim and try to approximate what was visible in the photos above. I finished the rustication with the wire brush on the Dremel as well. When I had it way I wanted I stained it with three stain pens mixed together to give the stain depth – Black, Walnut and Maple. The second photo below shows the rim top. What do you think? I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the rim top, bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.     I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks on the top and underside with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the repair cured I used a rasp and a small file to flatten the repairs and recut the button edge on both sides. I sanded the stem smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to further blend them into the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing with 400 grit wet dray sand paper. It was in very good condition so I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This restoration is for you Spencer, my fellow curmudgeon and friend… I already miss you greatly and find myself looking over where you used to lay and reaching for a treat and a rub behind your ears… The pipe is a big one with a big personality just like yours buddy. It is a Comoy’s Extraordinaire 804 Bent Billiard with a vulcanite taper stem. It is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and lightly buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Comoy’s Extraordinaire is a real handful and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 9 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 43g/1.52oz. This is one is a keeper and will go in my rack in memory of my old boy… Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Breathing New Life into a Gutta-Percha Revolver Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from one of Jeff’s pipe hunts on the Oregon Coast. Over the past year or so we have picked up several of these. It is an interesting pipe in that the base is shaped like a revolver pistol and made out of gutta-percha while the handle of the pistol is made from briar. It is threaded and screws into the base of the bowl. The bowl has three air holes in the bottom of the bowl surrounding a larger centre hole. To me it seems a bit of an oddity to put the barrel of the gun into your mouth and suck on the smoke but then, to each his/her own I guess. This one had definitely been smoked. While the bottom of the bowl was raw briar the top half had some cake on it and some light lava overflow on the rim top. The gutta-percha base had a lot of well carved nooks and crannies that had been filled in with dust and debris. There was also some gummy substance around the middle of the shank/barrel that appeared to be material from a sales label. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake on the top half of the bowl. There were spots of lava on the rim top. The varnish coat was also peeling and blistering. He also took photos of the barrel or shank of the pipe to show the sticky substance all around it. The top and underside of the stem show chatter and tooth marks.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the varnish coat. The first photo shows the only stamping on the pipe – MADE IN FRANCE. I have worked on quite a few gutta-percha pipes over the years so I turned to a blog I did on the material the pipe was made from (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/12/08/59256/). I quote from that blog below.

That led me to do some research on the web to see what I could find out about the material. (Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without Google. I don’t know how I survived college and graduate school without it.) The first link I found and turned to was on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutta-percha). I quote large portions of that article below to set the base for understanding the material’s composition and origin.

Scientifically classified in 1843, it was found to be a useful natural thermoplastic. In 1851, 30,000 long cwt (1,500,000 kg) of gutta-percha was imported into Britain.

During the second half of the 19th century, gutta-percha was used for myriad domestic and industrial purposes, and it became a household word (emphasis mine). In particular, it was needed as insulation for underwater telegraph cables, which, according to author John Tully, led to unsustainable harvesting and a collapse of the supply.

According to Harvey Wickes Felter and John Uri Lloyd’s Endodontology: “Even long before Gutta-percha was introduced into the western world, it was used in a less processed form by the natives of the Malaysian archipelago for making knife handles, walking sticks and other purposes. The first European to discover this material was John Tradescant, who collected it in the Far East in 1656. He named this material “Mazer wood”. Dr. William Montgomerie, a medical officer in Indian service, introduced gutta-percha into practical use in the West. He was the first to appreciate the potential of this material in medicine, and he was awarded the gold medal by the Royal Society of Arts, London in 1843.”

…In the mid-19th century, gutta-percha was also used to make furniture, notably by the Gutta-Percha Company (established in 1847). Several of these ornate, revival-style pieces were shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London. When hot it could be moulded into furniture, decorations or utensils (emphasis mine).

It was also used to make “mourning” jewelry, because it was dark in color and could be easily molded into beads or other shapes (emphasis mine). Pistol hand grips and rifle shoulder pads were also made from gutta-percha, since it was hard and durable, though it fell into disuse when plastics such as Bakelite became available (emphasis mine). Gutta-percha found use in canes and walking sticks, as well.

The material was adopted for other applications. The “guttie” golf ball (which had a solid gutta-percha core) revolutionized the game. Gutta-percha remained an industrial staple well into the 20th Century, when it was gradually replaced with superior (generally synthetic) materials, though a similar and cheaper natural material called balatá is often used in gutta-percha’s place. The two materials are almost identical, and balatá is often called gutta-balatá.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the base with the Oil Soap and rinsed it off with warm water. The pipe looked very clean when I received it. The varnish coat on the bowl was still spotty and would need to go but otherwise it was quite nice. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top and edges of the bowl looked very good. The stem portion of the base had some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.   I removed the bowl from the base and took photos of the parts. The threaded bottom of the bowl was in good condition. There some staining on the face of the bowl and on the bottom of the portion of the bowl that screwed into the base.   I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove the varnish coat from the briar. The briar looked much better without the shiny coat. I wiped down the threads with acetone as well to remove the grit in the threads.   I polished the bowl and the rim top and sides with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a cloth.    I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl top and sides with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.     It was in very good condition so I polished the gutta-percha stem portion of the base with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Gutta-percha and Briar Bowled Revolver with a barrel shaped like a gun barrel is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the bowl back on the base and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the bowl with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Revolver Shaped Pipe fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 33g/1.16oz. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!