Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table is a pipe was that was purchased from an antique mall in Northern Utah, USA early in 2020 and I am finally getting to it. It is a nice looking GBD with a smooth finish and a vulcanite saddle stem. It is stamped on the top side of the shank GBD in an oval logo [over] Americana. On the underside of the shank it is the stamped with the circular Made in London over England [over] the shape number 1970. The vulcanite saddle stem had a brass inlaid GBD oval. The finish was absolutely filthy with grime ground into the smooth finish. There was a light cake in the bowl and no real overflow on to the rim top. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stem was fitted with a filter tenon. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he did any clean up. He took photos of the rim top and the stem to show the condition of both. The photo of the rim top shows how clean the rim top actually was – other than some grit and grim it is smooth. The stem photos show tooth chatter and tooth marks and chatter on both sides. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a sense of the grain and finish on the pipe and the sheer filthy condition of the finish. There is still something attractive about the bowl even with the fills visible on the bowl sides. He took photos of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. The stamping is clear and reads as noted above. You can also see the top of the stem with the brass GBD logo. I turned to Pipedia and read the history section to see if I could find any information on the Americana Line. There was nothing specific in the main article there.
I turned to the related article on Shape numbers for GBD pipe to see if I could find anything about the 1970 shape (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). I found the following listed item:There was a slight issue in the information above. I would indeed call the shape a Diplomat and it has a 1/8 bent stem. However, the shank is oval not round.
I turned to another Pipedia article (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information) looking for information on the Americana line. I found it listed under the heading of a List of GBD “Seconds”
It said: The lines listed below are either 2nds or lines made for other makers/pipeshops. Please send me any corrections or additional information you might have on these.
Americana — Factory unknown.
I knew that I was working on a GBD second labeled Americana. It was a decent looking pipe with some nice grain. Now it was time to work on the pipe.
Jeff had cleaned up the pipe following his normal cleaning process. In short, he reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the smooth bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He worked over the lava and debris on the rim top and was able to remove it. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove the debris and oils on the stem. He soaked it in a bath of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. He rinsed it with warm water and dried it off. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. It really looked good. I took close up photos of the stem and the rim top to show both how clean they were and what needed to be addresses with both. The rim top and bowl edges look very good. The stem looked better and the tooth marks and chatter were very visible. I took a photo of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. You can see from the photo that it is readable. I removed the stem from the bowl and took a photo of the parts to give a sense of the beauty of the pipe. I decided to start my work on this pipe with the stem. I “painted” the stem with a Bic lighter to try and lift the tooth marks in the surface of the vulcanite. I was able to lift them quite a bit. I filled in the remaining marks with clear CA glue and set it aside to cure. Once the repairs cured I used a file to recut the edge of the button and reshape it. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and chatter and blend them into the surface of the acrylic. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the 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. The tenon was drilled for a 6mm filter. I fit a Savinelli Balsa Wood Filter in the tenon and the fit is perfect. I am assuming it will take all 6mm filters without any issue. I set the stem aside and turned to the bowl. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris. The began to take on a deep shine. I rubbed the it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl with my fingertips to get it into the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the GBD Americana 1970 Diplomat back together and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain peeking through the dark finish. The vulcanite saddle stem stands in contrast to the dark colours of the bowl. It is a light weight pipe that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 40 grams/1.41 oz. This one will soon be on the British Pipe Makers Page on the rebornpipes online store. 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 generation.