GBD “Special Shapes” 686 Restoration

By Al Jones

This 686 shape popped on on Ebay, incorrectly listed as a 646. I worked a deal with the seller and it was on it’s way to my work bench. This was a shape I had never encountered previously. John Fetter, the admin of the growing GBD PIpes Facebook, page collects these shape and shared this “Special Shapes” catalog page, that include below. If you are a GBD fan, you may wish to check out this passionate fan group page. Of the other pipes shown, I’ve had two 755 shapes in the past. John is currently looking for a 755, is anyone has one available. These shapes come in two of three over-sized pipes designations (Collector, Conquest and Colossus). The 686 is a Collector size, and at 57 grams, only slightly larger than a typical 9438. I guess that it would be considered a Rhodesian shape. Curiously, this one is in the New Standard finish, which is not listed as an available finish for the shape. The mysteries of GBD!

Below is the pipe as it was received. It had some slight build-up on the bowl top and a few handling marks on the briar. The nomenclature was in excellent shape, as was stem fitment. The stem was heavily oxidized, with one tooth prick that was revealed when the oxidation was removed. It has the brass rondell and straight line COM stamp of the pre-Cadogan era.

I used a worn piece of scotch-brite to remove the bowl top build-up. The bowl was reamed and soaked with alcohol and sea salt. I steamed out the minor handling marks on the bottom of the bowl.

The stem was fitted and oxidation removed with 600, 800, 1,500 and 2,000 grade wet sandpaper. I used a popsicle stick to get up against the button crease. I used a tiny drop of black superglue to fill the tooth prick near the button, the sanded smooth. The stem was buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic polish.

The bowl was buffed lightly with White Diamond and multiple coats of Carnuba wax, which brought back the color finish nicely.

Below is the finished pipe.

3 thoughts on “GBD “Special Shapes” 686 Restoration

  1. Robert M. Boughton

    Wonderful job, Al. Without making any change whatsoever to the pipe as GBD made it, you resuscitated this Special Shape with the artistry of a master. If there were a textbook on pipe restoring, this would belong in chapter one, or maybe the introduction. One question: what do you mean by “steamed out” the marks on the bottom of the bowl?

    1. upshallfan Post author

      My father-in-law taught me a old furniture restoration technique – steaming dents out of antique furniture. I use an electric iron set on high, pressed on a wet cloth, works pretty well. Some folks use a propane torch to heat a knife, pressed onto a wet cloth. The iron always stays hot, and is overall safer and easier to use. It generates a lot more steam than the hot knife. Steam causes the wood to swell back to its’ original position (most of the time).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.