Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe I chose to work on has been sitting on my desk for a few weeks and since I just finished an older GBD Standard I decided to pick this GBD London Made up and work on it. It came in a recent box from my brother Jeff. He picked it up in one of the online auctions he frequents. It is interestingly shaped GBD – not even sure what I would call the shape as it is a bit of a Dublin and a bit of a pick axe. Very unique. The pipe is stamped on the top of the oval shank GBD in and oval London Made. On the underside of the shank it is stamped London, England over 9664 with a letter “E” stamped near the stem shank junction. The grain showing through the grime is a mix of swirls, cross grain and birdseye around the bowl sides and shank. It had a rich reddish brown stain but the finish was dirty and hard to see the colour well. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a light overflow of lava on the rim top. There was some darkening around the inner edge of the bowl and what looked like some damage toward the back edge. The stem was oxidized with light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The button was in excellent condition. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. The cake and edge speak to this being a good smoking pipe.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the pipe was dirty but the finish appeared to be in very good condition. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the topside of the oval shank. The stamping was very readable – it read GBD in an oval over London Made. On the underside it read London, England over the shape number 9664 with the letter “E” near the shank/stem union. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and light tooth damage to the stem surface and slight wear to the edges of the button. I turned to Pipedia’s article on GBD to see if I could find any information on the London Made. The article gives a lot in terms of the history of the brand and a list of various lines of GBD pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information). I quote the section where I found the reference to the London Made.
London Made — Factory unknown: Some might not be marked with GBD logo and some with additional “house” stampings. Introduced in 1978(?) plain wax finished branded pipes” available in at least six stains. – catalog (1981)
With that information in hand I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping and the age of this pipe. I knew from the information from the section quoted that the London Made originally came out in 1978 in a variety of colours. Now I had an idea of the age of the pipe and it was time to work on the pipe.
Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show the clean top and the damage to the inner edge. The back of the bowl had been charred and there was some roughening and darkening around the rest of the inner edge of the bowl. The inside of the bowl looked very good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the remaining oxidation and the lack of tooth marks and chatter in front of the button on both sides. There is also a faint remnant of the GBD oval stamp on the top of the saddle.I also took photos of the stamping on the pipe on the top underside of the shank. It read as noted above. I started my work on the pipe by addressing the burned area on the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and give the edge a very slight bevel to remove the damage.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the results. I set the bowl aside and started working on the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the chatter and remaining marks into the surface of the stem. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped the stem off with Obsidian Oil to remove the dust and see where I was at with the stem. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. I have a few tins of this laying around so I am trying to use them up. It does a pretty good job polishing the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The shine on it makes the variations of colour really pop. The pipe polished up really well. The polished black vulcanite stem seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. This uniquely shaped pipe feels great in my hand and when it warms with smoking I think it will be about perfect. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. There should be a lot of life left in this GBD London Made 9664E. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of this unique GBD London Made let me know. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners, we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.