Blog by Steve Laug
This is one of my favourite pipe shapes – the classic GBD 9438. There is just something about the way the lines flow and the way the pipe sits in the hand that make this an all-time favourite from me. This one is somewhat unique in that though it bears the London England over 9438 stamp on the right side of the shank on the left side it is stamped Tobacco Town. The stem bears no GBD roundel but it is definitely the original stem. The finish is dark and the briar has some amazing grain. Tobacco Town is a chain of tobacco shops in the Northwestern United States and it also is the name of a few shops across the Southwest and the Midwest. Here is a link to the shops in Portland, Oregon: http://tobaccotown.com/. I think that because of the wide use of the name that identifying the shop that had this line of pipes made for them by GBD will not be possible. The two photos below show the pipe as it was when my brother received it.The rim had a heavy tar buildup with the cake overflowing the bowl onto the rim top. The twin rings around the cap on the bowl also were filled with dust and debris. The stem was oxidized and there were some deep tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. The topside of the button was worn thinner than the underside and there were some tooth marks on it as well.My brother Jeff has developed his own cleaning regimen that really delivers a clean pipe to me. By the time I receive it the bowl has been reamed and the finish scrubbed clean with no dirt or debris in the rings. The stem was clean and the damaged areas very visible. The rim top was free of the lava overflow but still was slightly darkened. The next set of four photos show what the pipe looked like when I started working on it. Before I began my work I took a close up photo of the rim top and the bite marks on the top and bottom of the stem near the button. The rim had the majority of the tars removed but under the bright light I could see some residual stubborn bits. The inner edge of the rim also had some damage from what looked like someone’s reaming the bowl with a knife. I have circled the bite marks in the photos of the stem surfaces with a red circle to clearly identify the issues there. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and the rim with acetone on cotton pads to try to remove more of the residue on the rim and to remove some of the darker spots of stain on the bowl. I wanted the grain to really stand out. I worked on minimizing the damage to the inner edge of the rim by sanding it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper.I decided to lightly top the bowl to remove the stubborn residue that remained and to lighten the smoke darkened rim at the back of the bowl.I noticed that the inside of the shank had been stained with the same brown stain as the exterior of the bowl so I scrubbed it out with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I was able to remove the stain. As I scrubbed it I notice that against the end of the mortise there were still some tars that kept coming out with the cotton swabs. I used a dental spatula to scrape the end of the mortise to remove these hardened tars. They are visible on the paper towel in the second photo below. I followed that up by swabbing out the mortise with cotton swabs and alcohol. I also scrubbed the airway in the stem. There was some debris trapped in the slot in the button that I worked out with a dental pick. I wiped the exterior of the stem down with alcohol on a cotton pad and worked on the tooth dents to make sure the surface was clean. I used a dental pick to apply the black super glue to the dents on both sides of the stem and sprayed the glue with accelerator. I followed up with applying a second layer of the glue to fill in the air bubbles on the surface that seem to always follow using the accelerator and set the stem aside to dry.When the glue had cured I used a flat blade needle file to smooth out the patch to the surface of the stem and to recut and reshape the button. I sanded the repair with 220 grit sandpaper and then refiled it with the needle file. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads using my normal routine – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down between each set of three pads with Obsidian Oil. I gave the stem a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I rubbed the bowl down with Watco Danish Oil with Cherry stain and let it dry for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes I rubbed the bowl down with a soft flannel cloth.I buffed the bowl and the 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 to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. This is one of my favourite shaped both in terms of the shape and the hand feel of the bowl. The red colours that are highlighted by the cherry stain show the grain beautifully. Thanks for looking.