Restoration of an Irwin’s 2007 London Made Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

Even with the COVID-19 warnings rolling in incessantly I am still working on pipes! It keeps my mind busy and focused. There is no reason to not enjoy the time alone at the work table bringing these old-timers back to life. After brief foray restoring pipes from several other estates I am back to Bob Kerr’s estate (his photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in over 65 restorations to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Be sure to check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

The next pipe I have chosen from his estate is a classic Bulldog. Irwin’s London England 2007 Bulldog. The stamping on the shank is faint. On the left side of the shank it is stamped Irwin’s over London, England. On the right side of the shank it is stamped 2007 – which I am unclear of whether that was a date or shape number! Irwin’s was a seconds line of GBD. The finish is worn and dirty. Underneath the grime the finish looks to be good. There also did not appear to be any fills in the bowl or shank. There is a thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top.  There is damage on the top and edges of the rim and the bowl is out of round. The stem is oxidized with a faint IR logo on the left. There are tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button.  Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup work.some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show their general condition. You can see the thick cake in the bowl with the lava overflowing on to the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl is beveled inward and thickly lava coated. It is not clear if there is damage to the bowl but it does appear to be slightly out of round.Jeff took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give an idea of the grain on this particular piece of briar. It is amazing and I cannot wait to see what it looks like once it is polished and waxed. He took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank to capture it for me. The first photo shows the left side of the shank and the stamping as noted above. The second shows the right side of the shank with the 2007 stamp. The final photo of the set shows the faint LR in a circle stamping on the left side of the diamond taper stem. This pipe has a diamond tapered stem that is heavily oxidizes and has some calcification on the button end. There seems to be some tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside.I turned to Pipephil’s site to get a quick overview of Irwin’s pipes. I remembered that they were a seconds of GBD pipes and this confirmed that (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-i.html). I have included a screen capture of the pertinent section from the site.I clicked on the link on the site to the section on GBD (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-gbd.html). There was a brief history as well as a list of GBD seconds. You will note that the Irwin’s brand is listed there. I turned to Pipedia and reread the history of the brand there. I also turned to the link on the shape numbers to see if I could clear up the question whether 2007 was a date or shape number. (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). I found the section listing the 2007 as a straight bulldog with a diamond shank. I did a screen capture of that section and included it below: So now I knew with certainty that I was working on a GBD made Bulldog – straight, diamond stem. The 2007 was the shape number. The one thing I am not clear about is what mad this pipe a second and not a GBD regular. That information would not be forthcoming. I moved forward to work on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. It had come back looking far better than I expected. Even the stem looked remarkably good with most of the tooth chatter gone. I was impressed. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up – reaming, scrubbing, soaking and the result was evident in the pipe when I unpacked it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. Just look at the grain on this pipe. Stunning! I took some photos of the rim top and stem. The rim top and bowl looked very good. The cake and lava overflow were gone. Jeff had been able to get rid of the darkening and lava and tars. The rim top had nicks and marks and the inner edge of the bowl was damaged and out of round. The close up photos of the stem shows that it is a much cleaner and better looking stem. The light tooth chatter was gone and the stem looked really good.I took some photos of the stamping on the shank sides to show the condition after the cleanup. Often the stamping takes a hit with the cleaning and is lessened in it clarity. Jeff does a great job in leaving the stamping looking very good.I started my restoration work on this pipe by addressing the out of round inner edge of the bowl and the damage to the rim top. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the edge and clean up the bevel. The next series of photos tell the story of the work on the rim. The first photo shows the rim as it was when I started. The second shows the folded sandpaper when I worked it over. I smoothed out the sanding with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad (photo 3). The final photo in the series shows the rim top after the work. With the rim in order I started my polishing regimen on the bowl. I used nine worn micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The bowl really shines by the final three pads. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter and blended in the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it was smooth.I used some Denicare Mouthpiece Polish that I have in my kit to start polishing out some of the scratches and remaining oxidation on the stem. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and my finger tip and buffed it off with a cotton pad.I used some liquid paper to touch up the LR stamp on the left topside of the diamond stem. Once it dried I scraped the excess off with a tooth pick to show the renewed stamp on the stem.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I gave it a coat of Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the stem. I don’t know how many times I have said this but I have to say it again with this pipe. I love it when I come to the end of a restoration and all of the parts come together and the pipe looks better than when we started the cleanup process. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank sides during the process. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is a great looking British Bulldog made by GBD and sold as second – an Irwin’s 2007 shaped Bulldog. Once again the grain and the way the shape follows the grain is amazing. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This GBD made Irwin’s Bulldog is a great addition to someone’s rack that price will be very reasonable. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This one will be will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for your time.

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