Daily Archives: May 7, 2013

Restoring a GBD 730 Toreador Volcano

I picked this old-timer up at an antique mall in Edmonton, Alberta two weeks ago. It was part of the threesome of pipes and tobacco and pipe cleaners that I purchased at the mall that day. In the photo below it is the pipe on the bottom of the picture.
I had never seen the stamping on a GBD nor had I seen the shape number. It is not listed on any of the GBD name or shape charts that I have on my computer. I wrote to a friend who works with a lot of GBDs and he replied as follows: “I have not heard of a “Toreador” line, but nothing surprises me on GBD lines. They had a seemingly endless array of model lines. The 730 shape isn’t listed on my shape charts, but they are full of holes and I constantly see shape new shape numbers pop up. The pre-Cadogan key is the “London, England” stamp coupled with a metal rondel. “Made in London England” in a circle is Cadogan era, even with a metal rondell”. From my research and his I looked at the stampings on this pipe. It is stamped GBD in an oval over Toreador on the top of the shank. On the underside it is stamped London, England over 730. This would seem to put the date of this pipe in the pre-Cadogan era.

The next series of six photos show the pipe as it was when I found it. The first picture was taken at the antique mall with my iPhone. The remaining five photos were taken at my work bench before beginning to work on the pipe. The bowl was thickly caked with a hard buildup of carbon. The rim was coated with tars and buildup as well. The stem was upside down when I picked it up and very tight. I was able to turn it and straighten it out for the picture. It was oxidized and there was a line across the stem that showed where it had a rubber bite guard in place on it. There were two tooth marks on the top of the stem visible below and also two on the underside of the stem near the button. The slot in the end of the button was closed off with tar and the shank and inside of the stem were filthy.





I decided to use my PipNet reaming set on the bowl. I started with the smallest bit and worked it around. Once I dumped out the cuttings I used the next size up to take the cake back to the briar. I like to start over and build my own cake in the bowl. I find that I can develop a hard cake when I work at it slowly.


Once I reamed the bowl out to the way I like it I worked on the rim of the bowl. I used some fine grit emery cloth to start breaking up the hard tars and then a fine grit sanding sponge to remove what remained. I work to keep the sharp inner and outer edge of the rim. I do not like it when it is rounded. This rim was also chamfered in toward the bowl and I wanted to keep the angles on that even when I was finished working it over. The next two photos show the cleaned rim. It has been sanded and the buildup is removed. There is a bit of rim darkening that will come off with a bit more work.

The next four photos show the bowl after I have wiped it down with acetone on a cotton pad. The darkening on the rim is growing fainter with each wipe. The pads are coloured from the dirt and grime as well as the stain from the pipe. I have found that the dark and medium brown wipe off and leave a yellow colour on the pads. I repeated the wipe down several times until the surfaces were clean.



After wiping the bowl down I cleaned out the stem and the shank. I used pipe cleaners and Everclear to scrub out the insides of the stem and shank. I scrubbed until they came out clean. I worked on the area of the button slot to clean out the tar buildup in that area. Then I decided to work on the stem. I sanded out the calcification on the stem from the rubber stem bite protector. It leaves a white sediment buildup that is rock hard so I sand it with medium grit emery paper. Removing this buildup also reveals the depth and nature of the tooth marks in the stem. The first picture below shows the topside of the stem and the tooth marks. The second picture shows the underside of the stem and the two tooth marks next to the button.

I then sanded the stem with 240 grit sandpaper and the medium grit sanding sponge to further remove the scratches and clean up around the tooth marks. Once I had the stem cleaned up of the white buildup and the scratches reduced I wiped down the stem with Everclear. I heated the surface of the stem with a lighter to lift the tooth marks as much as possible and then I picked out the grit and grime in the tooth marks with a dental pick to provide a clean surface for the superglue repair. The first two photos show the sanded stem and cleaned surface. The third and fourth photos below show the superglue patch. On this stem I chose to use clear superglue rather than the black glue. I often use them interchangeably.



I set the stem aside to dry and worked on the bowl again. I wiped it down a final time with acetone on a cotton pad. I chose to stain it with a dark brown aniline stain, thinned 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol. I did not want to darken the colour of the pipe but merely bring it back to its original colour as determined from several other smooth GBD pipes of this era. I gave it a coat of stain and flamed it with a lighter. I reapplied the stain and also flamed it a second time. The next series of four photos show the pipe after it has been stain. I wiped it down with a soft cloth. It had not been buffed at this point.



After the initial staining the colour was a bit dark and opaque to my liking so I use a cotton pad and wiped the bowl down with Everclear to lighten it and make the grain stand out a bit more. The next four photos show the bowl after wiping it down.



With the bowl finished it was time to work on the stem once again. The superglue was dry and it was time to do some sanding. The next two photos below show the stem after sanding on the patches. The topside and the underside tooth marks are repaired and even with the surface of the stem at this point. Now the stem needed to be worked on with further sandpapers and the micromesh sanding pads.

I wet sanded the stem with 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches left by the other sandpapers. I wet the sanding pads and then sanded the stem, wiped off the grime and water and resanded it until the majority of the scratches were removed from the surface of the stem. I worked the pads around the GBD rondel so as not to sand it and remove surface or stain in the metal. The next two photos show the stem after sanding with these two grits.

I had read much about using the Barkeepers Friend cleaner to remove oxidation so I mixed up a paste of the powder and scoured the stem with a tooth-brush. The paste worked very well to remove the oxidation around the rondel and around the sharp edges of the button. It really took care of the remaining oxidation. I applied the paste, wiped it off, rinsed, reapplied and repeated the process until I was satisfied with the results. The next two photos show the stem after polishing with the paste.

I then sanded the stem with 2400 and 3200 grit micromesh sanding pads to begin to bring out the shine. I also applied a coat of Obsidian Oil to the stem, rubbed it in and let it dry. The first two photos below show the stem after this treatment. Photos three and four show the stem after I had dry sanded it 3600 grit micromesh sanding pads. Photos five and six show the stem after I had finished sanding it with the remaining 4000 – 12,000 grits of micromesh sanding pads. I gave it another coat of Obsidian Oil before I took the pipe to the buffer and gave it a final buff with White Diamond.





The final series of four photos show the finished pipe. There are some dents remaining in the surface of the rim that show up under the light of the flash. They are not nearly as visible in normal light. The pipe is ready to be put to use. It came a long way from the shelf of the Edmonton Antique Mall to the finished pipe it is now.




A Book Review – The Smoker’s Guide – Philosopher and Friend

Smokers Guide 1 I picked up this old book on eBay after I came across it a few months ago. I was the only bidder so I got it for a good price. It is subtitled What to Smoke –What to Smoke With – And the Whole “What’s What” of Tobacco, Historical, Botanical, Manufactural, Anecdotal, Social, Medical, Etc. The author identifies himself as A Veteran of Smokedom. The book was originally published by Hardwicke & Bogue, 192 Piccadilly, London in 1877. The cover is stamped and embossed with gold leaf and shows a Turkish pipe smoker sitting on a carpet with his water pipe putting out a cloud of smoke. The spine of the book is stamped in gold leaf with the title, The Smoker’s Guide at the top of the spine and a line with H&B at the bottom of the spine.. The back cover is embossed with a rosette. The entire book is in great shape for its age with the only detracting feature being that the binding is a bit shaken and the corners of the cover and the top and bottom of the spine are slightly worn.

Like many of the books from this era the end papers on the front and the back of the book bear advertising broadsides. Inside the front cover is one for Registered Golden Bird’s-Eye Tobacco a product of the HY Archer and Co. The advert warns of others who have imitated their product and cautions the buyer to beware. Across t he page is an advert for John Wood and Son, Cigarette Manufacturers and Importers of Cigars. The content of these adverts is great to read.
smokers guide 2
Inside the back cover is an advertisment for Lambert and Butler’s Sun-Dried Cut Honey Dew tobacco. Across the page is one for Brankston’s Red Virginia Tobacco. All of these advertisements make my mouth water and create a desire to try out these old time tobaccos.
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Turning the pages from the front one is taken to the title page of the book with an engraving of a tobacco plant on the opposite page. It appears that someone has written the name Steinmetz in brackets under the author’s title “A Veteran of Smokedom”. I am not sure if this is a guess of the original author’s name or a factual statement of the writer added by a librarian or previous owner of the book.
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The book begins with a note to the reader that reads as follows: “The adoption of Pope’s memorable words addressed to Lord Bolingbroke for the title of this little work inspired the entire design, and made it incumbent upon the Author to do his utmost to render it worthy of so comprehensive a designation.

In the attempt he has been largely assisted by his innumerable predecessors in Tabacology, and almost every other “ology.” But, whilst drawing from every available source, he has taken nothing without striving to adorn it – after the good example of Virgil, Milton, Byron, and all the most enduring writers of ancient and modern times, who have thereby secured immortality – simply because so many other worthies have contributed to, and can vouch for, their excellence.

In like manner, whilst thankful to all the gods of Literature and Science for the gifts they have showered into his casket, the Author trusts that he has fashioned and set their gems in a new light, for livelier appreciation.”

After the note to the reader the Table of Contents shows the brief and broad categories of the chapters of the book. The Table of Contents also gives a brief description of the content of each chapter. I find this helpful in being able to look for particular topics that are covered in the book.

I have included a copy of the table of contents for you to have a look at. It will show you the flow and development of the book over the course of the pages.

A few words to begin with
Chapter 1 – The curious history of the Weed
Chapter 2 – The cultivation, manufacture and consumption of Tobacco
Chapter 3 – He who smokes dines
Chapter 4 – What Tobacco shall we smoke?
Chapter 5 – Of the Cigar and Cigarette
Chapter 6 – Of the qualities of a good pipe
Chapter 7 – Of Tobacco in the religious point of view
Chapter 8 – Of Tobacco and ‘Les Miserables,’ or as the comfort of the afflicted
Chapter 9 – Tobacco in the artistic point of view
Chapter 10 – Of Tobacco in the medical point of view
Chapter 11 – Tobacco a mine of gold to trade and government
Chapter 12 – Tobacco the firmest support of constitutional government
Chapter 13 – Smoking compared with other extravagances
Chapter 14 – Tobacco and its enemies
Chapter 15 – Words of the wise on Tobacco
Chapter 16 – Tobacco in the literary point of view
Chapter 17 – Tobacco and the Franco-German war
Chapter 18 – Of Tobacco in the poetic point of view
Chapter 19 – Tobacco and the fair sex
Chapter 20 – Of Tobacco in the ruminant or Quid point of view
Chapter 21 – Of snuff and snuffers
Chapter 22 – Useful hints to smokers
Chapter 23 – A word of advice to our young friends

Each chapter is written in a very clear and easy to read style. It is written in the period of the style of the age. The author uses language well and in a very picturesque way describes each of the topics at hand. The author also makes use of quite a few contemporary authors as well as ancient ones to substantiate his work. The quotes are well footnoted in the text of the book.

The first two chapters give the background information regarding the history and manufacture of tobacco. These provide the base from which he will develop the rest of the book. Chapter 1, the longest chapter in the book, gives a quick overview of the history of tobacco and traces it through various countries and kingdoms in terms of acceptance and rejection. I appreciate the way in which the author covers the history on both sides of the pro and anti camps. He traces the argument through each time period he covers. His method in looking at the history is a unique and fascinating read of the times. Chapter 2, also a long chapter looks at the various countries which produce tobacco and the amount and variety of the tobacco produced. After covering these bases the author steps aside from the background information and looks at the use and enjoyment of tobacco.

In the remaining chapters he intersperses what he call the various points of view from which he views tobacco. He develops chapters on the religious point of view, the use of tobacco for the suffering individual, the artistic point of view, the medical point of view, the literary point of view, the poetic point of view and from the point of view of the ruminant. Each of these chapters cites various authors and authorities in the particular field that is being viewed from both the positive and negative point of view. In between these chapters he covers a wide variety of topics. He has an essay on each of the following topics: the choice of tobacco that we use and the means of that use whether pipe, cigarette, cigar, snuff or chew. There are also topics on the economics of tobacco for governments – in other words taxation and its benefits to the government, on the enemies of tobacco and on the friends of tobacco – those he calls the wise. He writes about smoking in comparison to other extravagances, tobacco and women and even a chapter on tobacco and the Franco-German war. He concludes the book with two chapters in which he applies the information of which he has written. The first is written as hints to the smoker and the final he entitles advice to our young friends.

I appreciate the candour and thoroughness of the treatment he gives to tobacco. The older style of writing is not beyond our modern aversion to old and flowery language. He writes in a clear and entertaining fashion about the hobby we love. If you can find a copy of the book I highly recommend it for your reading pleasure. There is a quaint and delightful sense of being transported back in time as you turn the pages of chapter after chapter.

Refurbishing a Hilson Giant – Brian Devlin

Here is another post by Brian Devlin. I enjoy reading about and seeing photos of his refurbishing work. I am again posting this piece for your viewing. I wrote and asked Brian about more of his process in cleaning stems and rims and he answered with a pm on Smokers Forums. I have integrated that into the text of this piece for those who are interested in knowing more. Without further delay here is Brian’s article.

I picked up another eBay buy that needed a bit of work. This one was a dirty Hilson Giant badly charred rim and heavily oxidized stem. What it looked like when it arrived can be seen in the photo below.
Once again I followed my process of cleaning and refurbishing. I begin by always cleaning the oxidation from the stem. I coated the stem spigot (tenon) and the Hilson logo with Vaseline to protect them from damage by the bleach soak.
I then put the stem in the bleach soak. For this I use an old butter box half filled with a mixture of 50% bleach and 50% water and let it soak for 30 minutes. I have found that this amount of time in the wash works well to remove the oxidation.
I rinse of the stem and then reassemble the pipe. I attach it to a retort to clean out the inside of the bowl, shank and stem. I use 99.9% isopropyl with the retort. You can see how I set up the retort in the photo below. For the heat source I use canned heat (editor’s note: in North America Sterno makes a product that works very well for this. Great idea Brian!).
The stem is pitted after soaking in the bleach mixture so I just buff with brown stick (middle cut) followed by white stick (finishing cut). For the rim I use white stick to polish the rim taking off the char build up. I finish by using Carnauba resin on an open mop (buffing pad) to finish the briar and the stem. It seems to stop the stem from oxidizing. I then buff the pipe and you have BRIAR REBORN!



A Great Visit to Burlington on Whyte Tobacconist Edmonton, Alberta

I just returned from a long work related trip to the province of Alberta. My trip began in Edmonton, Alberta, the provincial capitol city. While I was there I planned to make a trip over to the Burlington on Whyte Tobacconist shop. Whyte Avenue is in an older part of Edmonton and has a lot of very interesting old shops, pubs and restaurants. My plan was to spend some time visiting the shop and having a look at their wares and their tobacco blends. I had looked at their website http://www.tobacconist.ca/ and had found some intriguing sounding blends of tobacco that I wanted to see and smell. Their website has some great photos. The first picture below shows the interior of the shop from the front door.
One click on the menu bar shows the tobacco menu of the house blends that shop carries. I have included a picture of the menu below for your viewing. This is unique in my experience of online pipe websites in Canada. I have found that generally tobacconists are not allowed to list their tobaccos and give details for the tobacco blends, so I was pleasantly surprised with this extensive list. Burlington on Whyte still gives an extended list of the blends and the basic components in each one. I have to say that for a Canadian pipe shop this is quite an impressive menu.
It was these two things – the look of the shop and the list of tobaccos – that intrigued me enough to add a visit to the shop to my itinerary.

So on a sunny afternoon I found myself free. All of my work meetings and appointments were over for the day. So my daughter and I took a trip over to Whyte Avenue. According to the website the shop is located at 10468 – 82nd Avenue just off of Whyte Avenue. I input that data into my iPhone GPS and headed out to find the place. I found curbside parking about a block away from the shop. I knew it was ahead of me by the GPS coordinates and the addresses on the buildings but had yet to see it. The next photo shows the exterior of the shop – its curbside view that I saw as I walked up the street to it. The yellow/butterscotch stucco and the red awning give it a bit of a California appearance. It was not at all what I was expecting to see when I walked up. In my mind it was a very different place than what was in front of me. The window display included pipes, posters, photos and tobacco. A bonus was the smell of pipe smoke in the air around the shop. The gentleman in the photo was smoking a nice Virginia in what appeared to be a small Dunhill billiard. He was sipping coffee and smoking while have a conversation with a friend. They were so engaged in their talk that we slipped by them without any notice. The doorway to the shop is on the right side of the photo and enters the interior at an angle.
Upon entering the shop a pipeman’s dream unfolded before my eyes. The next photo shows what I saw. Down the right side of the store there were a variety of displays of pipes of many shapes and brands. These were held in both display cases and on wall mounts. Each display was well lit and easily accessible for a shopper to view and fondle. There was also a small humidor just inside the door that housed a small selection of Cuban cigars. I also noticed in the back of the shop a larger walk in humidor. Not being a cigar aficionado I did not make it back to the humidor. I was immediately preoccupied with the pipe displays.

However, the website has a great photo of the inside of the humidor. I have included that picture for those of you who enjoy a good cigar. The humidor certainly is well stocked with a wide range of cigars.
The website labels this photo as the non-Cuban cigars. While I am not certain of that I do see there that the shop carries a wide range of Cuban, Nicaraguan, Dominican and Honduran cigars. This range of cigar brands and labels will provide something for every cigar smoker. I think that the next time I am in Edmonton I will have spend some time in the humidor and see what is available. But this time around I was there for a pipe visit.

I continued to look over the display cases on the right side of the shop and part of the left side as well and saw a wide range of smoking accessories – humidors of all shapes and sizes, lighters of various makes and prices, pipe bags, cigar cases, cigar cutters and the like. The variety of choices offered is quite impressive. I was not in the market for any of the items but had I been they would have been able to deliver. Burlington on Whyte is the exclusive Dunhill retailer for Edmonton so they carry a broad range of Dunhill products. They had Dunhill pipe bags, tampers, ashtrays, cigar cases etc. I could have spent several hours looking over the accessories but that also was not for this trip.
Chris Hansen (pictured to the left) is the proprietor of the shop and it was a pleasure to visit with him and talk about pipes and tobaccos. He is a knowledgeable pipeman who also blends some, if not all, of the tobaccos that the shop sells. I had an enjoyable visit with him, while my daughter patiently waited in the wings. I think I could have talked for a lot longer if I had been alone and not cognizant of her desire to see other shops on the Avenue. As it was I brought our conversation up a bit short and asked Chris if he had estates for sale. He answered with an affirmative and brought out some display cases with estate pipes for sale. He laid them on the counter on the left side of the shop. I went through these pipes carefully hoping to find one that caught my fancy. I find that the longer I am refurbishing pipes the pickier I have become so it is always harder to find a pipe that calls out to me. This was the case that day as well. There were several older GBD’s that came close to hooking me but nothing that demanded my cash outlay.
The wall behind the left side counter was lined with shelves of tins and jars of tobacco. There were also the obligatory rolling papers and pipe cleaners present. But my eye was drawn to jars of shop blends that occupied the shelves. I rarely buy tins of tobacco in pipe shops here in Canada as the cost is prohibitive – a 50 gram tin often is in the $28 to $30 range and sometimes even more costly. Because of this I try to purchase the bulk or house blends to try. This is especially the case when I come across a shop that advertises that it blends its own tobaccos.

I explained to Chris what I kind of tobaccos I smoked and he immediately suggested several of their blends that might interest me. Since I am predominantly a Virginia Perique smoker with an occasional foray into the world of English and Oriental tobaccos there were several that might work for me. He brought down the jars of Virginia Perique blends along a few English and Orientals ones as well. I opened each jar, talked with him about the makeup of the blends and enjoyed the smells of each tobacco. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. The prices were similar to those here in Vancouver, minus some of the taxes that are added at the till. I paid $18.40 for the ounce (thanks for the correction Aaron), although it is going up approximately $2.50-$3 per ounce within the next few weeks. This was due to a federal excise tax increase. The blend I purchased was Montego Bay, a Virginia that seems to have a little Perique for spice. There are also several other notes that come through the bouquet of smells that greet you when you inhale the aromas from the jar and bag. The website says it has some herbal additions to add to the sweetness of the Virginias. From the look of the blend it appears that there is at least a little Deer Tongue in the mix. It is a cool and flavourful smoking blend and certainly one that I will purchase again.

cody1 About mid-conversation an employee entered the shop and Chris went to the office. From the website I had remembered seeing his photo. We talked a bit but I failed to get his name. For that I apologize. Upon returning home I looked up the site and found that his name was Cody (pictured to left).

Cody was kind enough to pose for the photo below with his pipe in his mouth. Sadly it was unlit as we are not allowed to smoke in the tobacco shops in Canada these days. But as I walked through the shop and took in the ambience of the place I could easily see how that would have been a part of the history of this shop. I can almost smell the pipes and hear the conversation as pipemen sat in the back of the shop chatting and puffing while enjoying the fellowship of the pipe. Too bad we have lost those days.
From the website I learned that last year 2012 and again this year, 2013, the shop brought in predrilled briar blocks for a pipe carving contest. I looked through the webpage of the different pipes that had been carved by patrons of the shop. There were some well carved pipes in the photos. The blocks of briar looked to have been very nicely grained and clean. So while I was there I asked about the availability of the blocks and was shown a box of predrilled blocks with acrylic stem blanks. In speaking to Chris I found out that these came from Brigham. I am still curious as to who supplies them for Brigham. Chris only said that Brigham Canada sold them to him and could give me no more information.

With my daughter ready to move on and take in the sites of Whyte Avenue I gathered my purchases and made my way to the till. I paid my bill and took the bag of bounty that I paid for and headed to the street. When I got to the place we were staying later that evening I took the photo below to show my haul from the shop – a package of pipe cleaners (never have enough), an ounce of Montego Bay, a predrilled briar block and the business card.
If you live in Edmonton and have not been to this shop or you find yourself in town on a visit or business I can only say that it is well worth visiting Burlington on Whyte Tobacconist. The shop blends the ambience of an old tobacconist with an edginess of a new generation of pipemen. The friendly staff, wide selection of tobaccos, pipes and cigars makes it a spot that I will visit each time I am in town. Thanks Chris and staff for providing this great place for pipe and cigar smokers to visit and enjoy.