Restemming & Restoring a GBD Virgin London England 9437 Pot

Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes the repetitive work on similar pipes and stems gets tiring to me and to alleviate the inevitable boredom I change things up a bit to refresh me. I have a box of stummels (bowls) here that I periodically go through and see if I have a potential stem that would fit them. Yesterday when I finished the old timer on my work I went through the box and picked out three bowls and found workable stems for them. All were in different states of need but all had been thoroughly cleaned before I boxed them up. The first restemmed and restored was a ZETTERVIG Copenhagen Handmade 900 Egg ( The second pipe was a nice Malaga Lumberman ( The next one was the last of the bowls I had chosen – a nicely grained GBD Virgin 9437 Pot.

The bowl looked very good. The grain around the sides was quite nice and a mix of flame and straight grain around the bowl sides and birdseye grain on the bottom of the bowl. The rim top had some darkening on the top and inner edges. There was a small burned divot low on the left side of bowl near the shank. It looked as if the pipe had been set in an ashtray on a cigarette or a live ash. It was not deep but it was very present on the bowl side. The interior of the bowl was clean and there were not any chips, cracks or checking on the walls. Examining the mortise it was clean and well drilled with no issues. The finish was washed out and bit and tired but still quite redeemable. The stamping on the pipe was clear and readable. On the left side it read GBD in an oval [over] VIRGIN and on the right side it read London England [over] 9437. I took some photos of the bowl before I started to work on it. I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.I went through some of stems and found this saddle style stem that perfectly fit the shank. The diameter of the shank and the diameter of the saddle were not quite even. The saddle on the right half of the saddle was slightly larger than the shank. The left side was perfect. It had a few tooth marks and chatter near and on the button but it would clean up well. I put it on the shank and took some pictures of the look before my work on it.I addressed the burn damage dip in the lower left side of the bowl. I sanded it and filled it in with a drop of clear CA glue. I smoothed it out with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. It is smooth too touch but it is definitely darker than before I filled it in. At this point it was smooth and clean feeling.With that repaired I turned to deal with the rim top issues. I sanded the beveled rim top with 220 grit sandpaper and smoothed out the damage – both burns and nicks. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. It really began to shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth briar with my finger tips. The product is amazing and works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 10 or more minutes and then buff it off with a soft cloth. It really makes the grain sing. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the tooth marks and rebuilt the edge of the button with clear CA glue. Once it cured I used a small file to recut the edge of the button and flatten the repairs. I smoothed out repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them in further to the stem surface. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I fit the stem on the shank. It looked pretty good but seemed to be a bit blah. I took a set of photos to show the look of the new stem on the shank. For the fun of it I put a band on the shank and refit the stem on the shank. The shank is perfect there were no cracks and no issues so the band was just adding a touch of bling that works with the pipe. What do you think? With or without the band? I am leaning toward the banded version to be honest. I think it looks really good.

Without the band? With the band? I left the band on the shank but it is not glued in place and can be removed. Let me know what you think – one way or the other.

I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I put the pipe back together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored & restemmed GBD Virgin 9437 Pot turned out really well. The pipe (even with the burn mark on the left side of the bowl) really is a beauty and I think the brass band and the chosen stem works well with it. Remember I have not set the band in place so it can be removed. What do you think of it? Yea or Nay? The grain on the bowl came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The GBD Virgin Pot feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar, the brass of the band and the polished vulcanite stem with the popping grain on the mixed brown stained bowl is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.45 ounces/41 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the British Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.

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