Daily Archives: December 23, 2017

Resurrecting an old GFB Bent Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

I have worked on three older GFB pipes over the past 4 years. One was an unsmoked briar calabash, one a military mount bent billiard and the final one a horn stemmed bulldog. All had the same stamping as the pipe I am working on now. All were made of a nice piece of briar and all had the same classic shape to them. When I saw this old pipe on eBay I wanted to add it to the collection. It was similar in shape to the little GFB horn stemmed bulldog though the stem was shorter. The first photo below shows the horn stemmed GFB and the second one was photo that the seller included in the eBay advertisement. The stem on the second one is a Bakelite amberoid stem. The finish on both pipes appeared to be similar. The shape is identical. The stamping on the top pipe was GFB in an oval with three stars over the oval. The second pipe has the same GFB oval but it did not have the stars on it. I am including the link to the previous blog. https://rebornpipes.com/2013/11/21/restoring-an-older-gfb-three-star-horn-stem-bent-bulldog/I am including the rest of the photos that seller attached to the item. They give a pretty good picture of what I saw when I was hooked by the pipe. The finish was very worn. The stem was the same size as the shank and lined up straight on all angles. The stem appears to have a paper washer between the shank and the stem to help keep things straight. It appears that there is a small gap between the shank and the stem but I would not know for sure until I saw it. It is a small pipe – just 4 inches long and 1 ¾ inches tall.The rim top looked to be darkened and possibly burnt in the next two photos but it is hard to tell by the dark quality of the photos. The stem shows some damage on the edge at the joint with the shank. The photos show that the pipe is clearly stamped with the GFB in an oval logo. In the article I noted above on the other GFB bulldog I found some interesting information that I have included here for ease of reference.

The first thing I found was information that the GFB brand was an older French Trademark and that it came from Saint Claude, France. A more focused search for GFB French Briar Pipes led to information that the stamping GFB stood for Great French Briar – something about that did not seem right to me so I continued to look and finally came across the following advertisement from a Sears Catalogue. It shows a full page of GFB pipes and the header says GENUINE FRENCH BRIAR. That made much more sense to me, and all three of my GFB pipes match the pipes in the catalogue. It was good to be reminded of the old brand. I am pretty sure that all three of my GFB pipes come from either the late 1890’s or the early 1900’s. Here are links to the other two GFB pipes that I restored and restemmed if you are interested in some further reading on the brand.

https://rebornpipes.com/2013/06/07/restemming-and-reclaiming-an-older-unsmoked-gfb-briar-calabash/

https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/01/restoring-a-gfb-bent-billiard-another-reclamation-project/

When the pipe arrived in Idaho, Jeff took photos of it. His photos gave a more accurate look at the condition of the pipe before he cleaned it up. The bowl had a lot of black spots all around the sides of the bowl and the shank. The paper washer can be seen between the stem and the shank. It almost looks like a spacer. The Bowl had a thick cake that had overflowed onto the rim top and hardened like lava. The finish on the bowl was worn and tired but the original reddish brown stain still looked good underneath the grime. The rim top was so covered it was hard to know if the inner or outer edge had damage. The stem had tooth marks on both the top and the underside near the button itself was worn as was the slot in the end. The stem material was amberlike but was not amber. There was some crazing in the stem material on both sides of the stem. Jeff took a close up photo of the stem to show the condition of the bowl and the rim top. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and it appears that there may be a little damage on the front right side of the inner edge of the bowl. He also included a picture of the left side of the bowl with the black spots on the finish – it almost looked like tar. The next two photos show the stamping on the left side of the shank. It shows the GFB in an oval logo. It is slightly worn but still showed signs of the gold leaf that is stamped inside the logo.Jeff unscrewed the stem from the shank. In the next photos you can see the buildup of tars and oils on the bone tenon and the wear on it as well. The paper washer was torn and when he removed it off the tenon it fell apart.The next photos show the crazing in the stem and a few cut marks on the top side. The stem was worn, dirty and the sharp edge of the button had smoothed out and was worn into the surface.Jeff did a thorough cleanup on the bowl and stem. He reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall reamer. He cleaned the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs – scrubbing out the mortise as it was very dirty. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the tars and oils built up on the briar. He was able to remove all of the tars and lava on the rim top and left it looking very clean. The damage on the rim top and outer edge was clean and visible. He cleaned the stem with warm soapy water and rinsed it with clean water to remove the soap in the airway. When it arrived I forgot to take photos of the pipe. I started to work on it before I took the photos. I remembered after I had topped the bowl and also started to sand the stem and fit it to the shank. I painted the worn tenon with clear fingernail polish to build it up. Then fit it to the shank and took some photos of it to show how it looked before I continued on the restoration. I took photos of the stem to show the crazing in the Bakelite and some of the damaged areas on the top and underside.I took some photos of the topping process on the bowl. I did not have to remove too much of the rim surface to get rid of the damage to that area. I used 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board and carefully worked on the rim top until it was smooth and the damaged removed.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deep gouges on the top of the stem with amber super glue. I sprayed it with accelerator and when it dried I sanded out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the Bakelite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I carefully buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel so as not to let it get too hot and damage the material. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I was able to polish out much of the damage to the stem. Most of crazing was on the surface so most of it is gone as well. The amber Bakelite polished up really well and almost glowed. That part of the restoration went well and the stem looked new and would look good on the finished pipe bowl.

I set the stem aside and rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the smooth finish, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the wheel to polish it. It really began to have a deep shine in the briar. The rich reds in the briar and the brown stain really looked good at this point in the process. I took some photos of the bowl to mark the progress in the restoration. I decided to leave the small nicks in the bowl surface as marks of character rather than damage the original finish by sanding them all out. I polished the bowl and rim top using the micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. When I finished the polishing I wiped it down a final time. I used some Rub’n Buff European Gold to touch up the GFB stamp on the left side of the shank. I applied it to the stamp with a cotton swab and worked it into the stamp. I repeated the process until the coverage was good. I wiped it off and buffed the shank with a cotton pad.I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I lightly buffed the stem to raise the gloss on the Bakelite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and the stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The rich reddish brown stain on the bulldog shaped bowl works well with the amber gloss of the Baklite stem. This old GFB pipe has a nice mix of grain and now that it is restored it has lots of life in it. It is pipes like this that I wish could speak and tell their story. I would love to know the length and breadth of its journey around the world from France to the US and now to Canada. I guess though I will have to be happy adding my own story to the ongoing saga of this old pipe. Thanks for looking.

 

Breathing Life into a Dr. Grabow Omega Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I have always liked the look of the Dr. Grabow Omega pipes. I have worked on quite a few over the years and have found them well made. The briar is a mixed grain pattern usually but the look of the classic shape and the feel in the hand is quite nice. The style of the stem mimics the Peterson P-Lip but up close it is very different. The airway exits not on the top of the button as in a P-Lip but out the end as in a standard fish tail stem. This old timer was no exception so when Jeff sent it I was interested in what it would look like after his cleanup. The bowl was structurally sound but the finish was worn and tired looking with a lot of scratches all around the sides and bottom of the bowl. The bowl had a thick cake that had flowed over the top. The rim was coated in lava and it was beat up. It had a lot of small holes in it like it had been knocked out on concrete and the outer front edge of the bowl was roughened and rounded over. The inner edge of the bowl looked like it was undamaged. The nickel ferrule was oxidized and scratched. The stem had some tooth marks on the top and underside near the button and was oxidized. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its condition before he started his cleanup work. The next photo shows the cake in the bowl and the condition of the lava overflow on the rim top. You can see that it is quite thick. You can also see the rough condition of the outer edge of the bowl.Jeff took several photos of the bowl from various angles to show the general condition of the finish. There were scratches and nicks but none of them look too deep in the briar. The finish also appears to be very dirty and the varnish coat that is usually present seems worn and tired looking on the sides and bottom of the bowl. The next two photos not only show the stamping on the shank but also the buildup of tars and grime around the edges of the ferrule. It is almost as if the shank was weeping under the ferrule. The stamping is worn but readable. It is stamped OMEGA over Dr. Grabow on the left side of the shank and on the right Imported Briar.When Jeff took the pipe apart it appeared that the seller had put a newer Grabow Paper Filter in the shank of the pipe to make the pipe appear to have been cleaned. The next three photos show the condition of the tenon end of the stem and the filter. The oxidation on the stem is also visible in the photos below. The stem was scratched and worn but the Grabow Spade logo was in good condition on the left side of the shank. The top and underside of the stem had some deep tooth marks around the button and the sharp edge of the top of the button was quite worn and damaged.I did some searching to find out a bit of history about the Omega. I found that it was first released around 1975 and was a copy of a well pipe imported from Italy. It has continued to be offered for sale in their catalogues.

Jeff did a thorough cleanup on the bowl and stem. He reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall reamer. He cleaned the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs – scrubbing out the mortise as it was very dirty. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the tars and oils built up on the briar. He was able to remove all of the tars and lava on the rim top and left it looking very clean. The damage on the rim top and outer edge was clean and visible. He soaked the stem in an Oxyclean bath to raise the oxidation to the surface of the vulcanite. When it arrived I took some photos of it to show how it looked before I did the restoration.  Jeff was able to remove the thick lava coat from the rim and revealed what I thought would be underneath the thick coat. The rim top was speckled with tiny dents and marks and the outer edge was damaged all the way around the bowl. There was a little damage on the inner edge on the right side of the bowl.The Oxyclean soak had really raised the oxidation to the surface. The stem was clean but heavily oxidized when it arrived.Because the was so oxidized after the soak in Oxyclean, I put it in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak overnight and work on the vulcanite oxidation. In the morning I removed the stem from the deoxidizer and wiped off the excess deoxidizer from the surface of the stem with a paper towel. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove any remnants of the bath from that part of the stem. The photos below show the stem after the soak and rub down. The oxidation looked much more manageable and what remained would be easily dealt with. The tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem is hard to see in the photos, but it is present.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and minimize the tooth marks on both sides of the stem. I reshaped the button with the sandpaper and a needle file. I sanded the rest of the stem to break up the remaining oxidation.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful around the spade logo insert as they can easily be damaged. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. The outer edge of the rim was damaged all around the bowl but the worst damage was on the front edge. You can see the roughness of the rim edge in the next photo. With the small pin prick holes on the rim top and the damage on the inner edge of the right side of the bowl I decided to top the bowl. I top a pipe on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and work the bowl over the sandpaper holding the rim flat against the topping board and working the bowl to evenly sand the bowl top smooth and remove the damage. Once the rim edges were almost smooth I used a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth out the outer edge of the bowl all the way around the bowl. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. When I finished the polishing I wiped it down a final time. I blended some light and medium brown stain from a stain pen to restain the rim top and edges to match the colour of the rest of the bowl. The blend works well in trying to get this particular shade of brown. I hand buffed the stain to polish it and blend the colours together.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the smooth finish, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the wheel to polish it. It really began to have a deep shine in the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I decided to leave the small nicks in the bowl surface as marks of character rather than damage the original finish by sanding them all out. I cleaned and polished the nickel ferrule with micromesh sanding pads. I was careful in sanding the nickel in that the dust from the metal can discolour the briar and make more work. I was happy with the finished end cap. I buffed the briar on the wheel with Blue Diamond to polish it more. I was careful around the already light stamping. I hand buffed the bowl and ferrule with a microfiber cloth and took photos of the bowl at this point. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I buffed the stem to raise the gloss on the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dark to medium brown stain on the billiard shaped bowl works well with the polished nickel ferrule and the rich black of the vulcanite stem. This old Omega pipe has some interesting grain and has lots of life in it to add your own story to the ongoing saga of the briar. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 5/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

Comoy’s Golden Grain Apple Restoration


By Al Jones

Comoy’s with the drilled, 3-piece “C” stem logo always catch my eye. This one is a Shape 483 in the Golden Grain finish.  The stem was oxidized with a few bite marks. There was some build-upon the bowl top. The stem wasn’t inserted all the way into the shank, but that is typically due to build-up in the shank. Here is the pipe as it was received.

The shape 483 is listed as a Large Apple on the Comoy’s shape chart.

I reamed the cake and found the bowl to be on very good condition. I used a worn piece of scotchbrite to clean up the bowl top. The pipe was soaked with alcohol and sea salt. While the bowl was soaking, I put a dab of grease on the C logo and soaked it in a mild Oxy-Clean solution. After the soak, I used a bristle brush and then a scrunched up paper towel to clean the inside of the shank. Once that was done, the stem fit properly.

I raised a few tooth dents on the stem with flame from a lighter. One dent remained underneath, and I decided to let well enough alone as it was structurally sound. I used 800, 1,500 and 2,000 grade sandpaper to remove the oxidation. That was followed with 8,000 and 12,000 grade micromesh followed by White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic polish on the buffer.

The briar was lightly buffed with White Diamond and several coats of Canuba wax.

Below is the finished pipe, now being enjoyed by a member of the SmokersForums.uk forum.