Blog by Steve Laug
I finished the restoration work on Mark’s uncle’s pipes and a few of his own and sent them back to him in late January of this year. I wrote a blog on each of the restorations. They were a fun batch of pipes to restore for him. He sent me another package a few weeks ago that had just three pipes in it – A GBD 2331 Popular Straight Bulldog, a GBD 9242 Rhodesian (one of my holy grail pipes) and a long Churchwarden pipe. Each pipe had a different set of issues that would provide a variety of challenges. The GBD 9242 had suffered much at the hands of a hack repair person. The Churchwarden had a broken tenon stuck in the shank. I am finally working on the last of the pipes – the little classic shaped GBD Bulldog. The Bulldog was in excellent condition other than the first ½ inch of the stem missing in chunks. This pipe was by far in the best condition of the lot. The finish has spots of varnish on the sides of the bowl and shank. Most of it was gone but there were still flecks of it present. The finish underneath was in decent shape and the oxblood stain looked very good with the mixed grain patterns around the bowl. The bowl was clean and looked like it had been recently reamed. The rim top was free of lava and though it had some light rim darkening on the top. The edges of the bowl – both inner and outer were in good shape. The stem looked really good other than the missing chunks. There was little oxidation and after the damaged part was removed it was pretty clean. The stem had enough length on it that I thought I might be able to cut it off and reshape it. Time would tell. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the general condition of the pipe. You can see how clean the bowl, rim top and edges are. You can see the broken end of the stem with the missing chunks. It appeared as if someone had tried to glue the pieces on the stem and affect a repair. The repair had not worked but the glue was left behind.I took some close up photos of the shank to show the stamping on both sides. The left side shows the GBD oval over the Brand Popular. The right side is stamped London England in a straight line over 2331 which is the shape number. The stamping is faint in some places but it is still readable. The GBD brass oval rondel is in good condition on the left side of the saddle stem.I decided to start working on this pipe by addressing the issue with the damaged stem. I removed the stem and set the bowl aside. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove the damaged portions of the stem on both sides. I cut off as much as the damage as necessary to remove the broken and chipped edges and still leave behind enough stem to work with in shaping the new button.I used a mixture of black super glue and charcoal powder to build up a button edge on both sides of the stem. I set it over a lighter so that it could dry on both sides.Once the repair had dried/cured I reshaped the stem and button. I cut a sharp edge on both sides of the stem with a needle file. I shaped the taper of the stem surface on both sides with the blade of the file.I sanded out the file marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the button and slot with the sandpaper. I cleaned up the sanding marks with 400 wet dry sandpaper. I sanded the entire stem to clean up all of the scratches and marks in the vulcanite.I followed the sanding by polishing the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Polish – using both the Fine and the Extra Fine polish. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I was happy with the new look of the button and stem. I rubbed down the surface of the briar with a cotton pad and acetone. I was able to remove the entire patchy varnish coat. The briar looked far better with that removed. The photos below show the bowl after the acetone wash. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar and the smooth rim. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth and buffed it with a shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave it several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The new button and reshaping of the stem looks really good. Now that I have finished the last of Mark’s pipes I will be packing them up soon to send back to him. It won’t be long before Mark gets to enjoy them with their inaugural smokes. With the damage removed I think the pipe looks a lot better. Thanks for walking with me through the process of the reshaping.