GBD 311 Billiard Restoration

By Al Jones

This New Standard shape 311 came via Canada and was delivered in a plain paper envelope, with no packing and with the stem inserted – and survived! The pipe was in decent shape, the most challenging aspect was that the stem was very much stuck into the shank (and upside down). The New Standard finish is probably the most common GBD grade. This one had a very handsome two-stage stain that is unusual for that grade.

Here’s the pipe as it was received.





To remove the stem, I put the pipe in the freezer for several hours. That did the trick and it came out with a bit of effort (and care to not break the tenon). The stem was a bit too snug, so I rubbed some pencil lead on the tenon, which worked well.

The stem was then soaked in a mild Oxy-Clean solution for several hours with a dab of grease on the stem.

I used a rag and cloth to rub off most of the build-up on the bowl top. Then a piece of worn 8000 grit micromesh was used to remove the rim darkening. The bowl was reamed and then soaked with alcohol and sea salt.

With the stem mounted,I removed the mild oxidation and slight teeth abrasions with 800, 1000 and 2000 grade wet sandpaper. Next up was the 8000 and 12000 micromesh sheets. The stem was polished with White Diamond and then Meguiars Plastic Polish.

The bowl was buffed with White Diamond and several coats of Carnuba wax.

Below is the completed pipe which was purchased by a member of the Brothers of Briar pipe forum.













13 thoughts on “GBD 311 Billiard Restoration

  1. R.Borchers

    Hi folks,
    Saliva and cotton tips do the most delicate job. Recorder oil gents; its restores the shine and lustre of faded stain on any briar, better than olive-, or even parrafin ( Reiner Barbi ) oil.
    Anyway, to restain a rim is not that difficult to perform.

    1. upshallfan Post author

      Hmm, sounds interesting (recorder oil). I suspect all of those kind of oils are some bi-product of mineral oil (like Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil…) I have food grade mineral oil, will give that a shot. I googled recorder oil. It seems the manufacturers have their various own blends, some recommend various almond oil, mineral oil and linseed oils. I’ll have to experiment a bit.

      You are right, re-staining a pipe is not difficult.But, to do it right is something most hobbyists do not have the materials to accomplish. I resell most of my pipes and with a GBD,Comoy’s,etc., those folks value originality. So, if I can avoid restaining the top,etc,I strive for that. George Dibos told me he has over 100 stain colors to perfectly color match most (not all!) pipes. I have three (Med. Brown, Black, Oxblood). Now MOST of the time I can get pretty close, but never all of the time perfectly. So, I avoid it when possible.

      1. R.Borchers

        Hi Al,

        Mollenhauer recorder oil is twice refined linseed oil, to which a little vitamin E is added.
        It is a water like fluid, odourless and the briar will drink it instantly. Brings out the grain brilliantly and Polishes to a lovely shine.
        I fully agree about the restaining. Always go for the original and try to avoid it.
        I mix my stains ( often dilute) till the colour I want is accomplished.
        I then try it on the briar of a junk pipe .
        Fortunately, the colour of the ( stained ) briar also changes over time and that is a constant process. There’s a lot going on there.

    2. Troy W

      I like mineral oil because its cheap, tasteless and odorless. It has no chance of turning rancid like a food oil by product. Not to mention you can pick up at any local store.

      Saliva and cotton tips are good if there is bare min. rim char but with a thick coats its just not practical.

  2. Wikus Steyl

    Thank you all, your advice is greatly appreciated.

    I bought a Byford with a thick layer of tar and lava, I shall now set to work, wish me luck.

  3. Wikus Steyl

    Hi Al,

    This is a remarkably finished pipe in its simplicity.

    Some of these GBD’s have unremarkable grain and unremarkable staining but together it just works beautifully. I am yet to see an “ugly” GBD.

    When rubbing off the tars on the top of the bowl, did you use alcohol or acetone or just plain elbow grease? I’m always weary of fading the finish on the top of the bowl when cleaning it.

    1. upshallfan Post author

      Just tap water (sometimes distilled) and a rag to start. The super high grade sandpaper (1500 or 2000) used wet will get off most of the build-up. I finish with the micromesh sheets, 8000 is usually good. If some care is shown, neither removes stain and even more importantly, alters the shape of the rim/bowl. It does dull the top, but a buff with White Diamond and carnuba wax returns the luster and depth of the finish.

    2. Troy W

      A piece of Scotch Brite green pad and water will take it off pretty quick as well. Its rough enough to take of the tar but not damage the finish or wood.


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