Tag Archives: GBD Prehistoric Pipes

Cleaning up a GBD Prehistoric 133 Medium Billiard

Blog by Mike Belarde

Hello, I hope everyone is doing well.  I finally had a nice low-key weekend and was able to work on another pipe. I have had this GBD Prehistoric Billiard for a while and have been looking for a chance to work on it.  The pipe itself is a nice jaunty saddle stemmed Billiard with GBDs Prehistoric sandblast finish.

When I received the pipe, it was in a very dirty condition.  The surface of the stummel was caked with grime. The rim of the bowl had a good amount of carbon overflow, and the chamber was heavily caked.   The stem was in pretty fair condition.  It had light oxidation and took chatter, but the button was buffed down from years of use. The stamping was still legible on this pipe, and read GBD in an oval with the Prehistoric stamp and a 133-shape number. Below is an advertisement found on Pipedia describing the Prehistoric line. Even in its grimy condition, the pipe had an attractive rugged look, and I hoped that it turned out to be a fun workhorse pipe that I could take with me on a fishing trip or some other outdoor adventure. A link to the Pipedia web page has been provided below. Now to work on the pipe.  https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_InformationThe first step in the process is to address the internals of both the briar and stem, and then clean up the grime on the stummel, and the carbon build up on the rim.   I started by reaming the chamber and then lightly sanding it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper.  I took bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol to clean the shank.  As you can see from the pictures this pipe was loved and used often.  Cleaning the internals of this pipe took a long time. Once I had that completed, I moved on to addressing the dirt and grime on the exterior of the stummel. I scrubbed the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and an old toothbrush, rinsed it under warm water. I then scrubbed the rim with an old green scouring pad and some more Murphy’s Oil Soap. During this process a large amount of dirt lifted from the surface of the pipe and exposed some really great surface texture. The rim and the chamber cleaned up well and appeared to be in good condition.  I took the rest of the charring or darkening on the rim and inner rim with a folded piece of 320 grit sandpaper. The stummel seemed to be fairly clean but I decided to de-ghost the piped further.  I inserted two folded fluffy pipe cleaners through the shank and down into the chamber to act as a wick.  I have found that using fluffy pipe cleaners is easier for me than trying to fish an elongated cotton ball down the shank.  I then placed a cotton ball in the chamber and saturated it with isopropyl alcohol.While the stummel was de-ghosting. I placed the stem in a small Tupperware container to soak in Briarville’s Oxidation Remover solution.  I left both the stummel and stem to soak overnight.

Both the alcohol and the Briarville solution further cleaned the pipe.  I took the stem out of the solution and rinsed it and then ran some alcohol dipped pipe cleaners through it.  I then scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and the scouring pad to clean it up further.

After this was done I filled the tooth chatter in with super glue. Once the clue was dry I sanded down the patch with a piece of folded 220 grit sandpaper.Once I had the patch sanded down flush to the surface of the stem, I turned to the micromesh pads. I took the stem through the progression of micromesh pads (1500-12000). I polished the stem with each pad and wiped the stem down with a cotton pad soaked in Obsidian Oil in between the use of each pad. In the last step, I polished the stem with Before and After’s Extra Fine Polish. Satisfied with the progress on the stem, I turned my attention to the stummel. I polished the briar with the progression of micromesh pads (1500-12000) wiping it i with a damp paper towel.   Once this step was done, I mixed some dye up to touch up the stain. I’m not sure if the cleaning process removed some of the old stain, but I liked the highlights that had been exposed on the ridges of the sandblast.  I decided to heighten this effect.

I mixed a one-to-3 ratio of Light Brown and Russet leather dye with alcohol to thin the dye down.  I like to apply the stain with a small hobby brush. I find that the brush helps me to coat the stummel evenly. Once the stain was applied, I used a small tea candle to fire the briar and set the dye.  I let the stummel sit for a couple of hours and then removed some of the excess stain with a cotton pad soaked in acetone. After removing some of the excess stain with acetone I began to polish the stummel with the micromesh pad series (1500-12000). I wiped the briar down with a damp paper towel between each pad. Once I was finished with the micro pads, I worked some Before and After Restoration Balm into the stummel. The pipe was really looking nice at this point!  I let the balm sit for about 10 minutes and then buffed the stummel with a cotton cloth. In the last step of the process, I buffed both the stummel and stem with Red Tripoli and Blue Diamond.  I then gave both several coats of Carnauba wax and buffed them with a cotton cloth.

I’m really happy how this pipe turned out, and am looking forward to loading it up and relaxing with it in the backyard. Thanks for taking the time to read this post!

An Interesting Pipe To Work On – a GBD Prehistoric Xtra Horn

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This pipe has attracted the attention of my wife, Abha, since the time I had received three huge boxes of pipes that once belonged to my Grandfather. So when she took the plunge of helping me in restoring all these inherited pipes, this was one of the first she had earmarked for cleaning up. After she had done the initial cleaning up, this pipe languished at the bottom of the pile of around 50 plus pipes that she had cleaned up. And it was during the period of my stay at home on compulsory leave due to the countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) that this pipe came up for restoration.

The pipe with its forward canted Horn shape with a long military mount vulcanite stem has a delicate feel and look to it. It has beautiful and deep sandblast with some astonishing grain patterns that are seen over the stummel surface. The shank end is adorned with a gold ferrule that adds a touch of classy bling to the appearance of the pipe. It is stamped at the foot of the stummel as “PREHISTORIC” in Gothic hand followed by “GBD” in an oval over “XTRA”. The gold ferrule is stamped as “GBD” in an oval over four different shaped cartouches bearing the stampings, from left to right, numeral “6 (or is it 9 ?) in a rhombus followed by purity grade number “.375” in a rectangle followed by date code letter “F” and lastly the symbol of the city Assay Office that has worn out but I guess it appears like a LION HEAD with protruding lines from the four corners. The vulcanite stem is stamped, not very deeply, on the left side as “GBD” in an oval over “XTRA” in a slight upturned arch. The stampings, save for the Assay Office, is crisp and clear. There is plenty of material available on pipedia.org on the brand GBD that makes for an interesting read. The link below should take you to the relevant page on pipedia.org. For the sake of brevity, I have reproduced only the relevant portions that are related and of interest with respect to the pipe that I am working on (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD).

Early GBDs were made only in one single grade concerning the wood’s quality, later supplemented by a second one, and there was only a very limited number of finishes. But toward the end of the 19th century, the demand changed. For example the Britons preferred darker stainings. More differentiated customer’s wishes made the introduction of additional markings necessary. GBD Xtra and GBD Special were very early models who’s names indicated special final treatments and / or fitments. The standard quality was stamped simply with GBD.

There is a very simple explanation for GBD’s program to turn more “British”: GBD became a British company soon after the turn of the century! In 1902 Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co. in London.

The claims after the 1st World War demanded further distinctions. First of all was the London Made, which became the Standard London Made, followed by the New Era— in 1931 the top model asking 12½ Shilling. The Pedigree, although sketched around 1926, was not produced until the later 1930s. The New Standard was introduced in order to give the popular Standard of the 20s a higher rank in value. The Prehistoric, a deeply sandblasted black pipe, that still carried the small GBD Xtra stamp, was entirely new and unusual.

Dating GBDs
Xtras haven’t been made since the 1930’s.

That this pipe currently on my work table was made from 1918 to 1930s can be inferred from the information gleaned above:

(a) GBD Xtra and GBD Special were very early models whose names indicated special final treatments and / or fitments.

(b) The ferrule stamping of AO points to the fact that the pipe is post 1902 as Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co. in London in 1902.

(c) The Prehistoric, an entirely new and unusual line that still carried the small GBD Xtra stamp, was introduced after WW I.

(d) Xtra hasn’t been made since 1930s.

To pinpoint the year of make of this pipe, I decided to follow the stampings on the ferrule. Here, I was not very sure about the Assay Office hallmark as it was pretty buffed out and the numeral could have been a 6 or a 9. But having worked and researched a few silver hallmarked pipes, I guessed that the Assay Office hallmark should be a lion head. I visited https://www.gold-traders.co.uk/hallmarks/

This site is a step-by-step guide to help identify the carat/ purity, Assay Office and year of hallmark on all things gold. All things matched up perfectly and I have included a screen shot of the final result.From the above, it can be conclusively indentified that this GBD Prehistoric Xtra was made in England (London Assay Office) in 1921, give or take a year as the ferrules were always sent to the Assay Office in bulk to be used over a period of time, usually a year.

Initial Visual Inspection
As I have mentioned above, this pipe was initially handled by Abha and she is not in a habit of taking many pictures as she works on each piece of briar. There are not many pictures to give the readers an idea about the condition of the pipe before she had worked her magic and presented me with a nice clean canvas to carry forward my repair and refurbishing tasks. I have included a description of the initial condition of the pipe as documented by her.

This pipe has a rather small and narrow bowl in a classic Dublin shape with a pronounced forward cant. The chamber tapers towards the foot and has a chamber depth of about 1 ¼ inches. The chamber had an even layer of thick hard cake. There was a heavy overflow of lava over the rim top surface. Through this thick layer of lava, a crack is clearly visible over the rim top (marked with yellow arrows) that extends over both the inner and outer stummel surface on the right side in the 5 o’clock direction. The rim top was darkened considerably and I had suspected a charred inner rim edge in 6 o’clock direction (marked in green). The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The ghost smells in the chamber are not very strong.The deeply sandblasted stummel surface has very beautiful grain patterns and is covered in dust and grime. The fact that the sandblasted patterns are dusty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to the contrast of dark and medium brown stains on the stummel and the shank. The briar was looking lifeless and bone dry and had taken on black dull hues. The mortise was full of oils, tars and gunk and air flow was restricted.

The high quality vulcanite stem was deeply oxidized. Some minor tooth chatter and calcified deposit were seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone and at the bottom of the button edge respectively. The tenon end had accumulated ash and oils/ tars that had dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has scratch marks which will have to be addressed.    Initial Cleaning By Abha…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using scotch brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

The Process
The stummel crack was something that would essentially require materials and equipment that are available to me at my work place; therefore, I had no option but to relegate the stummel repairs to a later date.

I start this project by addressing the tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. Since vulcanite has a property to expand and regain its original shape when heated, I heat the bite zone with a candle flame to raise the tooth chatter to the surface. The deeper bite marks were filled with a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and set aside to cure. Once the fills had cured, using a flat needle file, I reshaped the button and roughly matched the fills with the rest of the stem surface. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, Abha polished it by wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers followed by further wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. She wiped the stem with a moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below.  Further repair and refurbishing work would have to be put on hold till I rejoin my work place.

Part II
Finally back at my work place…… After enjoying a compulsorily extended leave of three months with family and having honed my culinary and domestic chores skill set, I was happy to rejoin my duty and get back to completing the pending pipe restorations.

I took a closer look at the crack on the right side of the stummel in the 5 ‘O’ clock direction. This crack extends over the rim top surface and in to the chamber. With my sharp dental pick, I probed and removed all the charred briar wood from the crack and also dislodged the entire lava overflow that had embedded itself in to the crack over the rim top. It was a big relief to note that the crack did not go all the way to the outside of the stummel. Here are a couple of close up pictures of the crack to the chamber wall and outer stummel surface at this stage. I conferred with my Guru and mentor, Steve, over Face Time video call and after seeing the crack, he concurred that it was best to fill just the crack inside the chamber with J B Weld followed by a coating of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber for further protection. Before proceeding with further repairs, I decided to thoroughly clean the rim top and the stummel again to remove all the dirt and dust that had accumulated since last one year and also to completely remove the lava overflow from the rim top surface. I cleaned the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and a hard bristled tooth brush. With a brass wired brush, I cleaned the rim top to remove the lava overflow. The stummel and the rim top have cleaned up nicely.   Next I decided to address the crack to the stummel surface. I marked the end point of the crack on with a sharp dental tool under magnification. This helps to identify the end point later with naked eye and also provides initial traction for the drill bit to bite in. With a 1 mm drill bit mounted on to my hand held rotary machine, I drilled a counter hole at the end of the crack, taking care not to go too deep and end up drilling a through-hole. I had to mark and drill a second counter hole as I later realized that the crack extended slightly below the first one that I had drilled. I ran the sharp dental tool along the crack to remove the dirt and debris that may have been lodged in the crack. I filled the drilled holes and the crack to the stummel surface with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust. I also filled the crack at the rim top surface with the mix of superglue and briar dust and set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. A few hours later, the fills had hardened completely. I sand them down with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel. I fine tuned the match with the rest of the surface by further sanding with a piece of 180 grit sandpaper. I used a tightly folded 180 grit sand paper to sand the fills and had carefully moved along the ridges of the sandblast to achieve a near perfect match. I vigorously brushed the rim top with a hard bristled brass wired brush to further blend the fill with the rest of the rim top surface.    Now that the external repairs are done, I decided to address the crack to the wall of the chamber. To protect the crack from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco and also to prevent the heat from reaching the external crack to the stummel and causing a burnout, I plan, firstly, to fill only the crack of the chamber with J B Weld followed by a second coat of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber which would assist in faster cake formation. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld that consists of two parts; hardener and steel which are mixed in equal parts in a ratio of 1:1 with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix and filled the intended crack. I worked fast to ensure a complete and even filling of the crack and set the stummel aside for the J B Weld to harden.By the next afternoon when I got back to working on this pipe, the J B Weld coat had completely cured and hardened considerably. With a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sand the weld coating to a smooth surface till I had as thin a coat as was essential to protect and insulate the crack from the direct heat of the burning tobacco. The Weld coat has completely covered only the crack which can be seen as a thin line. I am very pleased with the repairs at this stage.I refreshed the stem logo by first coating the logo with a white correction liquid and once it had dried, I wiped it lightly with a cloth. I polished the stem surface with “Before and After Extra fine” stem polish developed by Mark Hoover. This polish helps in removing the minor scratches left behind due to sanding while imparting a nice shine to the stem.   Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The dark browns of the raised portions of the sandblast contrasts beautifully with the rest of the dark stummel and makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar. Now that the cosmetic aspects of this pipe have been dealt with, all that remained was the functional aspect that needs to be taken care of. The J B Weld coated crack needs to be protected from the direct heat of the burning tobacco and for this; I coat the complete chamber walls with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt and set it aside to harden naturally. The mix has to be of the right consistency; neither too thick nor too runny. It should be of a consistency that is thick enough to spread easily, evenly and stick to the walls. Also the coating should not be very thick. A thin film is all that is required. Another important aspect to remember is that it is essential to insert a pipe cleaner in to the mortise and through the draught hole for two reasons; first is obviously to keep the draught hole from getting clogged and secondly, the pipe cleaner absorbs all the moisture from the mix and helps in faster and even drying of the coat.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.  Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Lastly, I polish the 9 carat gold ferrule with a jeweler’s cloth to a nice and radiant shine. The blast pattern on this finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the vintage, shape rarity and the contrast that the gold ferrule imparts, makes it quite a desirable pipe. This pipe shall be joining my small collection of GBDs to be admired and be happy that I have restored it to its former beauty and functionality. P.S. In one of my previous blogs, I wrote that the question “Why do I enjoy bringing these old battered and discarded pipes back to life?” had popped up in my mind. I gave my third reason in my last write up and in all my subsequent write ups I intend to share with you, my readers my reasons as to why I really love this hobby.

The fourth reason is that every restoration project that I undertake is a new challenge for me. It sets my adrenaline pumping as I see the beauty of the pipe being unraveled before my eyes as I progress through each process of restoration. It helps me keep myself motivated and I wake up to each morning with enthusiasm to address the challenges that any project throws at me. Upon successful completion of repairs and refurbishing of a pipe to make it beautiful and most importantly FUNCTIONAL, gets me to a nice peaceful sleep at night… isn’t that what we all strive for?     

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is in my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!


One of my favourite GBD Shapes and Finishes – a Prehistoric 269 Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

After refurbishing a lot of pipes over the years I have come to opinions about pipe brands and shaped. To my eye certain brands really get a certain shape and really nail it perfectly. To me the GBD Bulldog, shape 269 is one of those shapes. To me it is the quintessential straight shank bulldog. Others do it well but GBD absolutely gets the shape. Add to that fact that certain finishes have also grown on me over the years and one of those is the GBD Prehistoric sandblast. You combine the finish and the shape components on this pipe and I have a real beauty on the restoration table today. My brother is also becoming a die-hard GBD fan so when he saw this one he decided it was one to go after. Needless to say he got it. He took some photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up to send up to me in Vancouver. I have included those below.gbd1The finish on the pipe looks to be in excellent condition. Later close-up photos will show the grime and dust in the grooves and crevices of the sandblast but there are no chips or nicks in the briar. The bowl had remnants of tobacco in the bottom and the cake had overflowed on to the rim top. The curved bevel of the Prehistoric smooth rim was thickly tarred and caked. It was hard to tell from the photos if there were any nicks or deep scratches in the rim. I have found that the thicker the cake and tars on the rim the more likely it is that I will find the rim to be pretty pristine underneath. The stem was deeply oxidized and the GBD logo insert on the stem had been buffed to death but the fit of the stem to the shank was perfect. There was only light tooth chatter and a few scratches on the top and underside of the flat portion of the stem. The photo below gives a clear picture of the condition of the rim and the cake in the bowl.gbd2The sand blast on the heel of the bowl was deep and craggy and the contrast of browns in the stain really highlighted the layered look of the blast.gbd3The stamping on the left underside of the shank in a smooth panel is very readable and sharp. It reads GBD in the oval over Prehistoric in Germanic script. Next to that it reads London England over the shape number 269. The second photo below shows the over buffed roundel in the stem. It is still readable but is quite flattened and broadened. I will have to see if I can clean that up a bit in the process of the restoration – or at least not damage it any further.gbd4The next two photos show the top and underside of the stem. The oxidation is quite heavy and deep in the vulcanite. There is some light tooth chatter and scratches on the stem near the button and on top of the button on both sides but no deep tooth marks.gbd5My brother is getting really good at cleaning up these old timers and I have to say I am getting spoiled at getting pipes that I don’t have to ream and scrape to clean before I can start the restoration process. In this case he scrubbed the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and got rid of the grime and dust in the crevices and removed most of the buildup on the rim top. He reamed the bowl and scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. When I received it the pipe was clean and ready to restore. The briar was dry from the scrubbing and the removal of all of the oils. It appears to have lost some of the rich colour but I have learned that once I begin to work on it the life begins to come back to the briar so I was not too concerned. The oxidation had also really risen to the surface of the stem and looked ugly. I took the next four photos to show what the pipe looked like when it arrived.gbd6 gbd7I took a closeup photo of the rim top to show what it looked like when I received it. He had been able to remove the buildup and caking on the rim but there was still some darkening that needed to be dealt with. I also took closeup photos of the stem to show how the pitted and oxidized surface looked before I started. This was going to be a tough stem to clean up.gbd8 gbd9I decided to start with the rim top. I started polishing it by wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped it off with a damp cotton pad and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. The rim began to take on its original sheen and the darkening and rim damage was removed.gbd10I gave the bowl a light rub down with olive oil and it absorbed it quickly into the dry and lifeless feeling briar. I buffed it by hand with a soft microfiber cloth and took the next set of photos to show what a little oil will do to a dry and thirsty finish.gbd11 gbd12I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper being very careful around the GBD roundel on the stem. I was able to remove much of the surface oxidation on the stem and I started to see the black stem peeking through.gbd13I decided to try several of the stem polishes I have around here to try to break through the oxidation. I started with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish which is a very gritty and cuts through the oxidation and helps polish the stem. I followed that with the Before & After Polishes which are also gritty but each of them the Fine and the Extra Fine are less so than the Denicare polish. While they worked well overall and cut through a lot of oxidation it took much scrubbing with cotton pads to polish it to the place the stem is in the photo below.gbd14I still needed to polish the stem further with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down after each set of three pads with Obsidian Oil. After the last set of pads I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. gbd15 gbd16 gbd17I buffed the bowl rim and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to shine it further. I gave the stem and the bowl rim multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel and hand applied Conservator’s Wax to the sandblast bowl sides and shank. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad, carefully buffing around the stamping and the brass roundel on the stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. The overall appearance of the pipe is very good. In some of the close up photos the light shows me some spots along the crease of the button where the stubborn oxidation did not all come clean. Ah well. It is one of those that I think I will revisit repeatedly over the course of its life with me. Thanks for journeying with me on this troublesome oxidation removal process. Thanks for reading. gbd18 gbd19 gbd20 gbd21 gbd22 gbd23 gbd24 gbd25

A Quick and Easy Cleanup on A GBD Prehistoric 9457?? Maybe Not!

Blog by Steve Laug

This is the fifth of the six pipes that I picked up recently. It is a GBD Prehistoric that has a great sandblast. The stamping on the pipe is on the underside of the shank and reads as follows: GBD in an oval followed by Prehistoric in Germanic script. Next to that is London England over 9457. While it looked like it was originally a billiard, I have learned that initial looks can be deceiving. I checked out the shape number on the web at http://www.perardua.net/pipes/GBDshape.html and found out that the shape was not a billiard at all but that it is supposed to be a Lovat.

It truly was a quick and easy cleanup. The bowl was slightly caked and needed to be reamed. The beveled rim was dirty and had a thick tarry buildup on it. The finish was good but dusty. The stem was oxidized and had a bit of tooth chatter but was not hard to clean. The catch in this one is that the stem is a replacement. A common theme is coming through on this lot. I am pretty certain they all came from the same pipeman. The stems either have a large bite through on the underside or they have twin bore bite proof replacement stems. Two of the lot had twin bore stems and three had serious bite throughs. This one is a twin bore bite proof stem. I decided to clean it up for now while I am on the hunt for a GBD stem for it. I am also going to look through my stems and see if I can find a Lovat style stem that will work for the pipe.




I have included the next photo to show the state of the rim and the bowl before I cleaned it.

Next is a photo of the bite proof twin bore stem. It is a bit different from others I have seen in that it seems to have a white bar inserted between the two airholes in the button. It give the end view a striped appearance.

I scrubbed the rim with saliva and cotton pads until it was clean. It took a lot of scrubbing and scraping to remove the tarry buildup but eventually it came off without damaging the finish on the rim. I really like the inward bevel on some of these GBD Prehistoric pipes because of the nice contrast it adds to the dark finish on the blast of the rest of the pipe. Typically the rim and the underside of the shank match in terms of smoothness and colour.

The rim is clean and ready to buff. In the first photo below the rim is shown after the scrubbing. In the second photo it is shown after I took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond.


The stem was oxidized but I found that the oxidation was on the surface and not very deep into the vulcanite. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and the tooth chatter on the top and bottom sides of the stem. I then gave it my usual regimen of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. It did not take too long before the stem shone. Once I had finished with the pads I gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil and rubbed it into the stem.



I scrubbed the bowl down with a soft bristle tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap and then rinsed it with warm water. I dried it and gave the bowl a coat of Halcyon II wax as I find it works well on these sandblast finishes. I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed the stem with White Diamond once again and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the bowl and stem with a soft, flannel buff to give it a shine. The finished pipe is pictured below. It was finished by I still was not happy with the stem and the look of the pipe. It just was not quite right. A true GBD stem for a Lovat would be nice but I am going to try a couple of other tricks while I am waiting to find one. I set the pipe aside over night to think it through.

Anyone have an extra GBD stem kicking around? Do you want to sell or trade it? Drop me a note.




This morning when I got up I thought about using a Lovat stem on the pipe and looked through my can of stems for one. While doing that it occurred to me that rather than turn a tenon and refit a stem to the shank that I could just as easily cut back the existing stem – it already fit the shank. The majority of the cleanup work has been done and I could rid myself of the bite proof twin bore stem. I know from past experience that the twin bore is like a Y and when cut back it will end in a single airway in the shortened stem. I can then open that into a slot and cut a new button and I will be in business. I decided to take that tact.

I trimmed the stem back until the two airways merged. I had to significantly shorten the stem to get to that point. I cut a new button and inserted it in the shank… problem – the stem was now too short for the look of the bowl. So… I have to cut a new stem for it. I have included a couple of photos of the short stem I cut so that you can see what I mean about the length being wrong.


With the stem being too short I started over. I found another stem in my can – longer than the previous one and turned the tenon to fit the shank. I stair stepped the tenon to make a good snug fit in the shank. I used the Dremel and the sanding drum to take off the excess vulcanite and fit the stem to the diameter of the shank. I purposely chose a stem that was slightly larger than the shank diameter because the shank on the pipe was slightly out of round. I fit the stem as close as possible to the shank with the sanding drum and then took it back to the worktable to shape by hand.




I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to bring the shape into line with the shank. It took quite a bit of hand sanding. I also shaped the stem with the sandpaper flattening the blade of the stem and smoothing and thinning the edges as well. I wanted the diameter of the stem to match from the shank to the saddle and then have straight lines back to the tip. This was all done by hand sanding with the 220 grit paper.



Once I had the lines straight from front to back I used a medium grit sanding sponge to smooth out the surface of the stem and reduce the scratches left by the sandpaper. I opened up the button with needle files to make it easier for a pipe cleaner to go in and out of the pipe.




I sanded the stem with my usual run of micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-2400 grit and then dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I buffed the stem with red tripoli between the wet and dry sanding and then when finished I buffed it with White Diamond. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil to protect it and when it was dry hand buffed it.



When I finished with the stem I lightly buffed the whole pipe with White Diamond and then gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I used Halcyon II wax on the bowl as I had above and then hand buffed the bowl and shank with a shoe brush. The finished pipe is picture below. I think that the Lovat style stem is an improvement to the look of the pipe. The new stem is approximately ¾ of an inch shorter than the stem that came with the pipe. I also am much happier with a regular slotted stem in place of the twin bore that I pictured earlier.

This pipe is really quite symbolic of what can happen when refurbishing a pipe. In many ways it is a bit of the story of some of my pipe refurbishing. It sometimes takes two or three tries to get the pipe to where I want it to be. Thanks for hanging in there with me in the process of this refurb!




Reworking the button on a Perspex Stem on a GBD Prehistoric

I was gifted this older GBD Prehistoric by a good friend who knows I like working on seeming irreparable pipes.  He knows that I enjoy the challenge and that I work to get them back to a workable condition. The stem was truly a mess as can be seen from the photos below. It had bite through holes on both the top and the bottom of the stem. The button was destroyed by the bite marks. This one would prove to be a bit of a challenge. My usual method of repairing bite throughs with Super Glue would not work as the hole was on both sides of the stem. You can tell by the three pictures below the size of the hole. I included even the blurry ones to show the extent of the problem that needed to be addressed.


After carefully picking at the holes with my dental pick I could tell that the surrounding Perspex material around the holes was compromised and pieces continued to come off with very little pressure on the dental pick. It was clear then that I would have to shorten the stem back to the point on the stem where there was solid material to work with. To do this involved cutting off almost a ¼ inch of the stem. The two photos below show the stem after the material has been removed. I used my Dremel with a sanding drum on it to take back the stem to this point. Care must be exercised to keep the finished surface straight and level. But I have found that this is fairly easy to do with the Dremel set at the lowest speed.


Once the stem is cut back to the solid material a new button has to be carved. I use a series of needle files to do this. Note in the picture below the three files that I used the most. The top one is a flat rectangular one that does a great job on the top and bottom of the stem to cut a straight 90 degree edge into the Perspex. The oval and the round file I used to open the slot in the button to match the shape of the one I cut off. Once the stem has been cut the airway at the end is merely a round hole or as in this case was barely flared. I like an oval slot in the button and the files do a great job in that process. I have two sets of needle files that I use. I clean the teeth on the files with Isopropyl alcohol and a brass tire brush. It keeps them from getting clogged with the Perspex dust.


In the three pictures below you can see the button that has been cut in the stem. I also used sandpaper to thin the stem profile forward of the button to give it the proper slope and give the button some depth. Note the rough surface of the stem is caused by the use of 240 grit sandpaper to accomplish this task. The top photo is the top side of the stem at the button, the second is the underside of the stem and the bottom photo is a profile shot to show the look of the button. When the stem was at this point it still needed quite a bit of sanding to smooth out the new button and shape the stem. The edges in the profile are a bit sharp and needed to be rounded to match the part of the stem that remained untouched. I rounded the edges with the 240 grit sand paper to match the shape of the stem.


The next two photos below show the stem after that reshaping has been done. I then had to polish the stem to get it back to it clear sheen. I started that with some 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper that was used with water to give it the bite to cut through the scratches of the files and the sandpaper. The first photo shows the pipe next to another GBD Rhodesian for comparison sake. You can see in that photo how much of the Perspex stem I removed to cut the new button. The second photo shows the shaping and flow of the stem once I have finished with the polishing with the wet dry sandpaper.


The last three photos show the finished pipe. The bowl was polished and the polishing on the stem was done with the micromesh pads through the 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 4000 and 6000 grits soaked in water to facilitate a good polish. Each grit level of micromesh took out more of the scratching that remained after the sanding. By the 3200 grit the surface was smooth and shiny. The last two grits gave it a thorough polishing and then I finished it on the buffer with White Diamond and carnauba wax.