Revitalizing a GBD Colossus International London Made 1759 London England

Blog by Dal Stanton

This is the second pipe I’ve restored that was commissioned by Paresh.  Like the first, a Tom Howard Jumbo Rustified Squat Tomato, this is a large pipe and the name reflects this – a GBD Colossus International.  It truly is a ‘Colossus’ with a huge stylish stummel that is cut with angles that makes one think of a ‘dinner’ pipe.  With the clear, acrylic stem and canted, sharp angled stummel – and his sheer size, sets this pipe on an upper shelf.  Paresh commissioned the GBD from the For‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! section and this pipe, along with the Tom Howard, benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Here are the pictures that got Paresh’s attention.The left side of the stummel encases the nomenclature, Colossus (in cursive script) [over] GBD (in oval) [over] INTERNATIONAL [over] LONDON MADE.  A classic brass GBD rondel is embedded in the acrylic stem, placing the dating of the pipe as pre-Cadogan.  On the right shank side is stamped LONDON ENGLAND [over] 1759, the GBD shape number.  I also see a ‘D’ stamped on the lower side of the shank which I have no information on!

Based upon the straight COM LONDON ENGLAND and the brass rondel, this GBD is dated pre-Cadogan which is 1981 and earlier.  In the GBD Pipedia article, this reference places the pipe in the 60s or 70s naming the lines that GBD had during that time.  ‘International’ is nestled in the middle of the list.

The following list comprises the better grades in descending order:

Pedigree, Pedigree I, Pedigree II, Straight Grain, Prodigy, Bronze Velvet, Virgin, Varichrome, Prestige, Jubilee, New Era, Prehistoric, International, Universe, Speciale Standard, Ebony, Tapestry, New Standard, Granitan, Sauvage, Sierra, Penthouse, Legacy, Concorde.

This is confirmed by information sent to me from Al Jones, who knows more than most about GBD pipes.  Al sent me a PDF of Jerry Hannah’s finish guide and one reference for an ‘International’ comes from the 1976 catalog. Unfortunately, I found no listing for a shape number of 1759, but the shape is most definitely at least a 3/4 bent – not sure I would call it a Billiard but the sharp canted stummel reminds one of a Dublin! Looking more at the pipe’s condition, it bears normal scratches and nicks from normal use.  The rim is darkened with some lava flow.  There are a few light fills on the side of the stummel that need to be examined.  The acrylic stem has tooth chatter that needs addressing.  The amber colored airway should clean nicely.  I take some additional shots to show the issues. Starting with the basic cleaning, I ream the chamber of the light cake using the Pipnet Reaming kit revealing fresh briar.  The depth of the chamber becomes evident at almost 2 1/2 inches (2 7/16 to be exact) as it swallows the 3 blade heads I use to clean the carbon cake!  This chamber will pack a good bit of tobacco!  Following the Pipnet blades, I use the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool to fine tune and clean the chamber further reaching the depths.  Finally, I sand the chamber by wrapping 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen.  I finish the clean up of the chamber by wiping out the carbon dust using a cotton cloth wetted with isopropyl 95% and inspection of the chamber shows no problems.  The pictures show the progress. To clean the externals, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad to scrub the briar and darkened rim. I also use a brass wire brush to work on the rim.  Pictures show before and after.Continuing with the stummel cleaning, I work on the internals with pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%. I also utilize a shank brush to work through the draft hole as well as a dental spatula to scrape the mortise wall.  The pipe cleaners and cotton buds start coming clean, but later, at the close of my work day, I’ll also utilize a kosher salt and alcohol soak to clean and freshen the internals further.Now, looking at the acrylic stem, it’s difficult to see with the pictures I’ve taken, but the button has some compression dents and the bit is clouded from tooth chatter.   The pictures show the starting point.   I first run a bristled pipe cleaner dipped with isopropyl 95% to clean the airway.Then, using a flat needle file and 240 grit paper I sand the bit and button to work out the tooth marks and compression dents on the button lip.  Following this, to erase the scratches of the filing and 240 grit paper, I sand using 600 grade paper and 0000 grade steel wool. Moving from the steel wool, I wet sand the stem using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and dry sand from 3200 to 12000 to bring out the glassy shine of the acrylic stem. I then mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel with speed set at about 40% and apply Tripoli compound to the entire stem.  I follow this using another buffing wheel, same speed, and apply White Diamond compound.  To remove the compound dust, I buff the stem with a felt cloth.  Acrylic stems love to be buffed up and this GBD Colossus International’s stem is looking great!  The acrylic is like glass. Looking now at the stummel, to address the dents and scratches on the surface, I wet sand using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with the remaining pads, 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. I enjoy watching the grain emerge during the micromesh cycles.  This GBD stummel has a lot of briar real estate and the grain is beautifully showcased.  The pictures show the emerging grain. With my work day closing, I continue the cleaning of the internals of the stummel using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  To do this I create a wick by pulling and twisting a cotton ball and stuffing it down the mortise and airway as far as I can manage with a rigid straight wire.  I then place the stummel in an egg crate for stability and fill the huge chamber with kosher salt which leave no after taste as its iodized cousin.  I give the stummel a shake capping the bowl and then fill the chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes and the alcohol has been absorbed, I top off the chamber again.  Then, I set it aside until the morning.  The following morning the salt has discolored and the wick has an ink-like color on the top – not sure what that is.  I clear out the expended salt and use paper towel to clean the chamber.  I also blow through the mortise to dislodge used salt.  I then use a pipe cleaner and cotton bud dipped in isopropyl 95% to make sure all was clean, and it was. With the sanding of the GBD stummel with micromesh pads, the briar grain naturally darkens and deepens through the process.  I look again at the fills I identified earlier which are solid but they had lightened.  I want to darken and blend these fills at this point in the process.  I use a maple dye stick and gently color the fills.  To blend, I feather wipe the fills with a cotton pad wetted with a bit of alcohol.  The result looks good. Before proceeding to apply compound to the stummel surface, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to deepen and enrich the briar.  I apply some Balm to my finger and work the Balm in to the briar.  As I’ve noted on previous restorations, the Balm begins with a light oil texture and thickens as it is applied.  I like the Balm because it treats the natural briar hue and deepens and enriches the look.  I take a picture after applying the Balm and before wipe/buffing it off after a few minutes standing. I now mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, with speed set at approximately 40% full power and apply Blue Diamond compound to the briar surface.  After this is completed, I reunite the GBD Colossus International acrylic stem with the stummel and apply coats of carnauba wax.  I do this after changing cotton cloth buffing wheels on the Dremel – at the same speed.  I finish the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.This GBD Colossus International lives up to its name.  The stummel is huge and the grain showcased is a beautiful labyrinth of swirls.  Completing the ensemble is the glass-like acrylic stem with an amber vein dissecting the 3/4 bent orientation.  Paresh commissioned the GBD Colossus International from For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! and will have the first opportunity to acquire the GBD in the The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

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