Daily Archives: April 2, 2016

Restemming a GBD International London Made – 508 Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

Quite a while ago now my brother Jeff picked up a handful of pipes from an antique shop in Montana. There were quite a few GBD pipes in the lot. One of them was this GBD International bent billiard. It came with a gnawed off stem that was irreparable. The bowl was caked and dirty and the rusticated/plateau top was filled with grime to the point that it was almost smooth. The bowl looked good under the grime and the finish looked salvageable. The pipe was stamped GBD in an oval over International over London Made on the left side of the shank. On the right side it was stamped with London England over the shape number 508. I failed to take photos of the bowl before I cleaned it up as I was on a roll with about four bowls going at the same time. Here is what it looked like after I had wiped it down with alcohol. I scrubbed the plateau top with a brass bristle brush and some Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed it down with cool water and dried it off. It is in very good shape. I had reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned out the shank and the bowl. GBD1 GBD2 GBD3 GBD4I went through my stem can and had several potential stems there. I chose one that was slightly larger in diameter than the shank. I had to shorten the tenon as it was too long to sit correctly in the shank.GBD5 GBD6With the tenon shortened the stem fit nicely in the mortise. The diameter was close and I would adjust it to fit.GBD7The stem was a used one that I recycled and it had one deep bit mark on the top side near the button. I sanded it smooth and cleaned it before I filled it in with black super glue. Once the glue cured I sanded the repair with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out.GBD8 GBD9I used the Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the diameter of the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper until the transition was smooth. I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to clean off the remaining grime before restaining the rim with a Black Sharpie.GBD10 GBD11 GBD12 GBD13I heated the stem over a heat gun until it was pliable and bent it to the proper angle. I set the bend with cold water. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches left behind by the Dremel and smooth out the flow of the stem.GBD14 GBD15I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I gave it another coat of oil and then finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry.GBD16 GBD17 GBD18I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The grain on this pipe is spectacular – great birdseye on the sides and cross grain on the front, back and bottom. The plateau or rustication on the rim that I stained black gives it a unique look. I think it is a beauty! Thanks for looking.GBD19 GBD20 GBD21 GBD22 GBD23 GBD24 GBD25 GBD26 GBD27

My Reluctant Journey into Pipe Repair

Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to take some time to reflect on my slide into pipe repair work. I figured it would be good to process the slide a bit and try to wrestle with my reticence. I have been reluctant to take on pipe repairs for other people because I really like doing the work as a hobby and I don’t really want to deal with all the potential people issues. I find it relaxing to move at my own pace and when I feel like doing the work. To add the desires and wishes of another person with their own expectations and times lines to the mix was something that I avoided for the longest time by just repairing pipes for close friends or pipe club members when I felt like it. I just did not want to ruin a perfectly good hobby and put myself at the mercy of others who exacted such a variety of forms of torture and suffering on briar and meerschaum. I wanted to be able to sit at my work table with some nice music playing, no pressure sip some coffee or a beer and just putter away. Working that way there were no deadlines or phone calls checking up on the status of a pipe. There was just the predictable ability of pipework to de-stress me. With my job I actually am never finished; each day marches on and the work is never done. With pipework I can often finish working on one or two pipes in an evening and even more on a weekend if I choose to do so. I have the immediate satisfaction of not only finishing something but bringing a worn and tired old pipe back to life – hence the name rebornpipes.reborn logoProbably the beginning of the downward slide into pipe repair can be associated with the start of my blog. A little over three years ago I started the rebornpipe blog as an online storage site for the documentation I had done over the years of learning the art of pipe refurbishing. I have been on Smokers Forums for many years and about that time the server was hacked and all of the posts and archived material that I had written there on pipes and repairs disappeared into cyberspace. Fortunately I had saved copies of every post with pictures included on my hard drive. But to add insult to injury the next thing that happened was that my hard drive crashed. I took it to the shop and they were able to rescue my files including the posts. That was enough for me. I found the WordPress site and signed up for the free version of the blog. I put everything on the web and breathed a sigh of relief. Now I have the blog plus I backed it up on DVDs and have them in storage and I keep the current years’ work on my new hard drive. I am convinced that one can never be prepared enough!

Over the years the blog has grown to include more than me – there are now many folks who have joined me in posting their work. I bought the domain name and upgraded the storage space and capacity of the sight. It did not take too long before I began to get emails from folks who wanted advice on how to repair their pipes or wanted to send them to me for a repair. In those early days I generally did the work for barter. A tin of tobacco, a box of pipe cleaners or even pipes were often the form of payment. All of these were ways I tried to keep from crossing the line and make my hobby into work. I still had an aversion to that and wanted to keep the line very clear.

Well the bartering took a turn – more of a slow and steady slippage into doing the work for others. Looking back I can see how it happened and when it took a turn. It seems like friends of friends wanted a new stem or a repair or a tenon replacement. There was no end in sight so I sought yet another way to keep the hobby just a hobby. I still did not want to step into the doing repairs for a fee. I did a bit of research to see what others charged to do what I was doing. My thinking at that point was truly to set a price and discourage the knocks on the door, the emails and the phone calls. However, it did not do that. Slowly but surely the stream increased. I still did some of the repairs in exchange for a tin of tobacco or something else that would be worth bartering. In my head I kept trying to at least postpone the inevitable day that would come when I would have to charge.

But the slippage into doing repairs for others continued and soon the postie was delivering boxes from all over the world for repairs. Sometimes I wonder what he thinks when he rings the bell and hands me yet another small box that says pipe for repair. I could still rationalize to myself that I was just helping friends I had met online in the various pipe forums or through the blog. But my rationalization was more a form of denial as the repairs kept coming. My wife and daughters soon raised the question that I had sensed was coming, “When are you going to come up with a price list for your repairs? You should get some compensation other than more pipes and tobacco for the work you are doing.” I tried to ignore them for as long as I could but one day I sat down and figured out a price list for what I do and designed a business card to match.

Business cardI should have figured out that the line was crossed with these two creations – a price list and a business card. The first iteration of the card only said Used and Estate Pipes Bought and Sold so I was still able to live in the wonderful world of denial. But even that soon gave way as with the next iteration of the card I added the word Repaired between Pipes and Bought.

The question is clear for me, “Did this signify the beginning of the end for my hobby – at least at some level?”. I continue to work on pipes I find and the ones my brother supplies me with as a hobbyist. The trouble is that I now have to fit them in between the ones that I am fixing for others. I cling tenaciously to the hobby aspect of refurbishing and refuse to let go of it! However, no matter how hard I tried the slippage became a full out free fall not long ago.

I know the precise moment that it happened. I can tell you the date but that really does not matter. I do know that when it happened it was a dark rainy Vancouver evening. After work I took my daughter to an eye specialist for an appointment. When I dropped her off I remembered that there was a cigar/pipe shop just down the hill from the clinic. So instead of paying a garage parking fee or feeding a meter I drove down the hillside to shop and parked in their lot. My thinking was I could park there for free and do a bit of shopping at the same time. It could be a win win for me – no meters or parking fees and I could pick up refurbishing supplies. I needed some pipe cleaners and I wanted to see what pipes the shop had available.

I had not been there for a long time so I was looking forward to checking it out. I had heard that they had a good selection of pipes and tobaccos. It had originally been just a cigar shop with nothing pipe related so this would be interesting. I parked in their lot and went inside. I greeted the two women who were running the shop and went into the pipe area. They had indeed made a lot of changes and carried some beautiful pipes. I was looking at the Peterson pipes in the display case when one of the women asked if I would like a coffee. I accepted her offer and was soon chatting with her about the pipes and tobacco they carried. As I we talked I asked her for different items and began to build my purchase pile. These included two packages and an additional six bundles of pipe cleaners and a tin of Escudo. She asked me what I needed that many pipe cleaners for so I told her that I worked on estate pipes. I even went out of my way to make it clear that restoring and repairing old pipes was a hobby that I really enjoyed.

That was where things got interesting. She wanted to know what kind of restoration work I did so I summarized what I did. I told her about my blog and suggested she check it out to see what kind of work I did. Up to this point I was pretty oblivious to where this was going. We were just having a conversation so I did not think too much about it. She asked for an email and a link for the blog so I gave them to her. You might think I was a little dense at this point and you are probably right in your assumption. When I am in a pipe shop I am pretty focused on pipes and tobaccos and not thinking about much else. I went through the various display cases and enjoyed the Dunhills, Chacoms, Butz Choquins, Brighams and several baskets of inexpensive pipes and cobs. Time was flying by while I waited to pick up my daughter.

Finally, I made my way to the cash register to pay the bill and collect my purchases. They ladies asked me if I had a price list of the work I do. I laughed and said yes I did. She then told me that the pipe repairman that they referred people to had retired. He lived in Toronto and was no longer working on pipes. They were in need of a new repairman. Then came the question – “Would I be willing to have them refer people to me with their repairs?” Unthinkingly, truly I did not think too much about it, I said sure. Well the slippage was over and I was free falling into repair work. I did not think much about it and went to pick up my daughter, quite oblivious to what would transpire.

It was not long before I began to get phone calls asking if I would repair a stem, a broken tenon, a damaged finish or a dent in a bowl. People began to drop off pipes at my door for me to repair. I think this is more than my family was expecting. Not too long ago my wife asked me when our home had become a pipe shop… fortunately she was laughing but I got the point. But what could I do, I was caught in the free fall and was doing repairs. I have met some interesting people in the last few months of this adventure. I had no idea the number of pipe smokers in Vancouver. I know a few from the pipe club here but the ones stopping by for repairs are people I have never met before of a variety of ages. It is great to see that our hobby is alive and well even in the anti- smoking climate of Vancouver.

I will see where this aspect of pipe refurbishing and repair takes me. But one thing I know is that I still have a huge box of pipes of my own to refurbish so the hobby will continue. I am just going to have to learn to pace myself so I can still enjoy my hobby while fixing other people’s pipes. pipes

A Ruined Stanwell Handmade 80R Bent Billiard – another ugly duckling

Blog by Steve Laug

Out of the three pipes from the “hackster” – the cut off Rhodesian, the coffee grounds Dublin and this Stanwell 80R Bent Billiard I have to say that the work he did on this one was by far the worst abomination. This pipe is stamped Stanwell Hand Made 80R Made in Denmark on the underside of the shank. It was a sandblast brown contrast bent billiard that would have been beautiful when it was made. The “hackster” decided to improve upon the finish and believe it or not he desecrated the pipe. He used a Dremel or sander to remove the majority of the sandblast finish leaving a dab of it on the back of the bowl at the joint of the shank and the bowl and a dab on the front side about 1 inch long from the rim. In removing the blast he completely ruined the shank leaving a thick band near the stem and the two thick sandblasted dabs. He sanded off the blast on the shank leaving it looking anemic and awful. He ruined the shape of the bowl and left it totally out of round on the outside. He also over reamed the bowl with what looked like a Dremel and sanding drum and took the bottom of the bowl almost ¼ inch below the entrance of the airway.

He did not leave the stem safe either he reshaped the button by removing the majority of the sharp edge. Then to add insult to injury he left the stamping intact on the bottom of the shank giving credit to Stanwell for the ruination of this fine briar pipe. It went from handmade to hand ruined. Over the entire bowl and slopping onto the stem was a thick coat of shellac. Runs and drips had hardened. The file and Dremel marks were held in perpetuity under a thick coat of shellac. That is where I started with this abomination. The question was could I do anything to redeem this mess.blast1 Blast2 blast3 blast4I took some photos of the stem and the left over sandblast sections. There is also a photo of the rim shows the out of round condition of the outer edge of the rim.blast5 blast6 blast7 blast8 blast9I sanded off the remaining sandblast sections on the bowl and shank and rounded the bowl with a Dremel and sanding drum. I used the Dremel to reshape the shank and the bowl and shank. The damage done to the shank made it necessary to shape the stem into an oval instead of a round.blast10 blast11 blast12 blast13With the rough shaping work done there was a lot of fine tuning to be done to the shape of the bowl. I topped the bowl with a topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to remove the deep saw and file marks and to flatten the surface. I sanded the areas on the bowl where I left the shellac and existing finish until they were smooth as well. I left the band on the bottom of the shank where the faint stampings that the “hackster” had left behind remained. I had still not decided whether to remove them as the pipe was certainly not a Stanwell any longer and when I was finished reclaiming it the pipe would be two times removed from the pipe that came out of the Stanwell factory.blast14 blast15I hand sanded the bowl and shank with 220 grit sandpaper to further shape it. I sanded the stem as well to remove the damage that had been done to it and also to reshape it to the oval shank.blast16 blast17 blast18 blast19I worked on the outer edge of the rim and shaped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper. Fortunately, the inner beveled rim was undamaged. The bottom of the bowl was a mess that I would need to fill with pipe mud to restore the depth of the bowl to the bottom of entry of the airway into the bowl.blast20I sanded the bowl and shank with a coarse grit sanding block to smooth out more of the curves. The larger surface of the block ensures and evenness to the contours of the bowl and shank.blast21 blast22 blast23 blast24I used the heat gun to bend the end of the stem to the angle that would have originally been present when the pipe left Denmark. I sanded the stem and bowl further with sandpaper and gradually the pipe was taking shape. The swan was beginning to appear. During the sanding process I found that there were several flaws in the briar and at least one fill. During the course of the sanding these may well disappear. Overall this is a nice piece of briar with enough meat on it that I can still end up with a nice pipe.blast25I cleaned out the shank and the airway to the bowl and in the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. It was amazingly dirty for a pipe that had been “refurbished”. The “hackster” had left the inside absolutely filthy while destroying the outside of the bowl and stem.blast26 blast27I continued to sand the bowl and stem with a coarse grit sanding block to remove the remaining scratches left behind by the Dremel and sanding drum. Gradually the swan was beginning to emerge. I was getting excited about what this one was going to look like when it was finished. There was some nice grain emerging as I sanded.blast28 blast29 blast30 blast31I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to further remove the scratches. I wet sanded the bowl with 1500-2400 grit pads and sanded until the grain began to shine.blast32 blast33 blast34I dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads and then rubbed on a coat of Danish Oil Cherry stain. I gave the bowl several coats of the finish and then set it on a cork stand to dry over night.blast35 blast36I cleaned up the sharp edge of the button with needle files to redefine it as the shape was blurred into the body of the stem. I shaped the button with 220 grit sandpaper at the same time to give it definition.blast37 blast38I sanded the file marks out with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the edge of the cut into the surface of the stem. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then gave the stem a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished by sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads and giving it a final coat of oil. I set the stem and pipe aside for the night.blast39 blast40 blast41In the morning I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel to bring out the shine and then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then by hand with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. To me it looks far better than the mess I started with but what is your verdict? Did a swan emerge? The pipe certainly has some nice grain and the flaws are small in comparison to the overall look of the pipe. Thanks for looking.blast42 blast43 blast44 blast45 blast46 blast47 blast48 blast49