Cleaning up a GBD Made Rota 9487 Square Shank Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is a smooth Peterson’s System Standard Sitter that was incredibly dirty. The grime on the finish pretty much obscured the grain around the bowl sides. The contrast of the dark stain made the grain stand out clearly. Jeff and picked it from a lady in Slate Hill, New York, USA. It was stamped on the left side of the shank. The stamping was readable. It read ROTA’s. On the right side of the shank it was stamped London England [over] the shape number, 9487. It was in worn condition when he brought it to the table. The finish was dirty with grime ground into the briar sides and rim. There was a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the crowned rim top and inner edge of the bowl. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe.   Jeff took photos of the rim top to show the interior the bowl and the beveled inner edge. It is heavily caked with a thick lava overflow. The stem is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.     Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show grain that was around this bowl. It is a nice looking pipe.  He took a photo of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is as noted above – on the left side it reads ROTA’S. On the right side it is stamped London England over shape number 9487. The shape number and right side stamping tells me that I am probably dealing with a GBD made pipe. I turned to the article on GBD Shapes. (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). I have included a screen capture of the shape 9487 which is described as an apple with a straight shank that is square. The description matches the pipe that I am working on.I turned to a previous blog I had written on a ROTA’S pipe that I had restored. That one was a long shank Bulldog (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/04/20/restoring-a-bit-of-a-mystery-rotas-made-in-london-england-long-shank-bulldog/). I quote a section of that post below.

I think I had found a good possibility for the maker of the pipe for whoever ROTA’S is. Though the ROTA version is  a little longer the shape of the bowl and the shank is identical and the lay out of the stem matches as well. Someone suggested that ROTA’S was a company or shop but I exhausted that online as well. So the ROTA’S stamp remains a mystery but I think the pipe itself was made by GBD. Perhaps someone reading this will make the link for us and let us all know.

I knew that I was dealing with a GBD Made in London England with a shape number that identifies it as a GBD square shank apple. I have been unable to identify ROTA’S  but at least I know who made the pipe. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better. The stamping on the side of the stem was very light and the white that had remained was gone. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top and edges show a darkening but are not damaged. It should clean up really well. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the remaining oxidation and tooth marks on the surface and on the button.I took photos of the stamping on the left and right side of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is clear and readable.   I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has some great grain around the bowl and shank.I started my restoration on this pipe with polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth. It was in decent shape so this is all that was needed. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar 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. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I scrubbed the surface of the vulcanite saddle stem with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleanser to remove the remaining oxidation in the creases and on the saddle portion. It removed most of it and the rest would come off with some sanding with micromesh. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.     I am excited to finish this GBD Made ROTA’S 9487 Square shank Apple. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping through on the bowls sides and rim top. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem was beautiful. This mixed grain on the smooth finish GBD Made ROTA’s Apple Sitter is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. 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. 

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