Daily Archives: January 9, 2013

A Transformation from a GBD Billiard to a GBD Lovat


Blog by Steve Laug

I picked up this little GBD New Era Billiard while traveling awhile back. It had a cracked and broken stem. The GBD roundel was still intact and in good shape. The bowl was a mess in that the rim was hammered. The top of the rim was chipped and rough. It was also out of round from over reaming. Since I had found it I had been looking for a new stem for a replacement. I had searched EBay and some of my other usual spots to see if I could pick up a GBD stem or even broken pipe that would work for me. This evening I gave up on the hunt and decided to see what I could do with the existing stem. I set out to transform the pipe from a billiard to a lovat by shortening the stem.

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The first step in that process was the shortening of the stem – the removal of the damaged portion of the stem would have to go. I used my Dremel with the sanding drum to remove the broken part of the stem and cut a straight line across it. The next three photos show the stem before the cutting and after. The fourth photo in the series shows the airway in the stem. There was plenty of vulcanite for me to cut a new button on the stem and to open a slot in the button.

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The next series of six photos show the process and results of topping the bowl. I used emery cloth on a solid board to sand away the damage to the rim. I chose the emery cloth because the damage was quite deep and extensive and I wanted to be able to remove the rough briar before sanding the rim with higher grit sandpaper. I hold the pipe with the rim flat against the sandpaper and work the pipe over the surface of the sandpaper in a clockwise motion. I find that this works better than using a horizontal or vertical motion and minimizes the scratches on the surface of the briar. I sanded the top until all of the damage was removed on the rim. There was one spot at about 5 o’clock on the rim where there was a large chunk taken out of the briar. I minimized that as best as I could but could not remove it all without damaging the profile of the pipe.

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Once the rim was finished I decided to clean the pipe inside and out. I used Everclear and pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to clean out the interior of the pipe and stem and then some acetone on a cotton pad to wipe down the bowl surface. I also sanded the rim with 320 grit sandpaper and went on to use 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper to wet sand the rim. In the four photos below you can see the little lovat being born.

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Once the pipe was clean I decided to work on the slot in the end of the stem before cutting the button. There is no logical order to what I worked on next; it was more a matter of whatever I wanted to look at first. I opened the slot with needle files and started to shape the slot into the oval opening I was aiming for. Once it was roughed in I cut the button on the surface of the stem with needle files. The first two photos show the slot taking shape. The next seven photos show the progress of the button and the adjustments to the slope of the stem. I carved the stem with my files removing vulcanite on the top to flatten the profile of the rounded stem. It took quite a bit of sanding to the top and bottom of the stem to achieve the right angles. I also used folded emery cloth to smooth out the flow and remove the file marks from the surface of the stem. By the seventh photo you can see the progress of the button and the slope quite clearly.

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The next series of six photos show my next steps in shaping the stem. I put it back on the pipe and continued to work on the slope of the stem surface and the definition of the button. By the sixth photo the stem is virtually done in terms of shaping. I finished cutting the slot and smoothing it out by a folded piece of sandpaper. I also sanded the remaining parts of the stem on the saddle to remove the oxidation that was prevalent on that stem as a whole.

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Once the shaping was finished and the rough sanding done to the surface of the stem I progressed through 320 grit sandpaper and 400 and 600 wet dry sandpaper used wet to remove the scratches left behind by the emery paper. It took quite a bit of fine sanding to work around the roundel and not damage the stamping of the brass. When I finished with the sandpapers I worked with micromesh sanding pads. I used the first three grits – 1500, 1800 and 2400 and wet sanded the stem. I find that the rounded corners of the sanding pads allow me to work closely around the roundel and clean up the oxidation and scratches.

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I then polished the stem with Maguiar’s Scratch X 2.0 to remove the surface scratches and to see what remained to work on in terms scratches and marks. I rub the polishing compound on with my finger and work it over the surface of the stem and into the angles of the button. Once it is applied that way I scrub it with a cotton pad to polish and remove the compound. I then sanded it with the next three grits of micromesh – 3200, 3600 and 4000. I dry sanded with these grits and began to see a deep shine emerging. Once finished with the 4000 grit I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and set it aside. I then stained the pipe with medium brown aniline stain that I thinned down 2:1 with isopropyl. I flamed the stain to set it and then reapplied the stain, flamed it again and then reapplied it to the rim a third time and flamed it. I took it to the buffer and used Tripoli and White Diamond to buff it. I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl on a soft cotton pad to lighten the stain and make the grain variations more visible. I put the stem back on the pipe and finished sanding it with the final three grits of micromesh – 6000, 8000, 12,000. After dry sanding with these pads I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond. I finished by giving pipe and stem several coatings of carnauba wax and buffing with a soft flannel buff. The new little lovat is pictured in the four photos below.

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