Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. We picked up two GBD pipes from this seller that needed restoration. This second one is a nicely grained Square Shank Apple shaped pipe with a vulcanite saddle stem. It has been here since the Spring of 2017. This pipe is more straightforward than the first one – the Lumberman 256 – that I wrote about in the previous blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/08/05/this-is-one-i-have-not-seen-before-a-gbd-london-made-lumberman-256-with-an-unusual-stamp-on-the-shank/). It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads GBD in an oval [over] International [over] London Made. On the right side it is stamped London England [over] shape number 9487. On the underside next to the stem/shank junction it is stamped with upper case letter I. I would guess that the “I” is for International which is the line. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was heavily caked and had an overflow of thick lava on the top of the rim. It was hard to know what the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked like under the grime. The stem was calcified, oxidized and had tooth chatter and large deep tooth marks on the top and underside but the surface of the button was surprisingly free of damage. There was a faint GBD oval stamp on the left of the saddle stem. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. It is hard to know if there is damage to the inner edge of the bowl because of the lava coat. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, calcification, chatter and deep tooth marks. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime. You can also see some of the fills in the bowl sides. He took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank. They are numerous and are faint but read as noted above. He also included a photo of the stamping on the top of the saddle stem.I looked on Pipephil’s site for information on the particular International Line and found the following screen capture listed (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-gbd.html). It is interesting in that the second pipe pictured below stamped the same was as the one I am working on. The difference is that it has a stamped GBD logo on the stem rather than the brass rondelle.I also went to the the GBD article on Pipedia and found nothing in the great historical article that was pertinent. I did follow a link to the GBD Model Information article to see if there was some help there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information). The article listed the following information on the line.
International — France, unknown if also made in England: medium brown smooth, carved top rim, rim stained black. -TH: Matte take off finish “with just a hint of surface waxing” – catalog (1976)
That article gave me some helpful information. I knew that the pipe line often had a carved rim top stained black. The one I was working on was smooth and stained the same at the rest of the pipe. I also knew that the 9487 shape number tied back to a Square Shank Apple. Now to work on the pipe.
Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the damages to the top and edges of the rim. I think this pipe may well been before we worked with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer so he cleaned the internals and externals. The stem was clean but oxidized. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable. (Unfortunately I was in a hurry and heated the dents in the stem to lift them and filled them in with black Loctite 380 CA. It had cured before I remembered to take photos of the pipe.) The rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The inner edge of the rim showed some damage and burning on the front and back edges. There was also some damage on the rim top at the front. The stem surface looked very good with some light oxidation remaining but I had heated and filled in the stem surface with black Locktite. I took photos of the stamping on the shank sides and underside. It reads as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a well shaped square shank apple pipe.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I started by dealing with the rim top and edge damage. I reworked the rim edge smoothing out the bevel and the damaged areas. The rim top looks very good. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the top and underside of the shank so as not to damage the already faint stamping. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem surface to raise the tooth marks and the small ones lifted some. You can see what they looked like in the photos below. I filled in the dents and built up the edge of the button on both sides with black Loctite 380 CA. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the repairs cured I recut the button edge and flattened out the repaired areas with a needle file to begin to blend them into the surface. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend them in and followed that by starting the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I touched up the remnants of the GBD oval logo on the stem top with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I rubbed the product on the top of the stem and pressed it in the stamping with a tooth pick. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This interestingly stamped GBD International London Made 9487 Square Shank Apple with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich browns and blacks of the contrasting stains came alive with the polishing and waxing. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished GBD Apple is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. 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. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!