Tag Archives: GBD seconds

Reclaiming a Digby Conquest Canadian

Blog by Steve Laug

On the weekend I went pipe hunting to refill my box of pipes for refurbishing. I found some nice ones to add to the box. The first one that I took on was odd looking when I picked it up. The stem on it was an aftermarket replacement that proportionally was all wrong. The addition of the stem made the pipe over seven inches long. The stem was also a twin bore which was not standard on GBD line pipes. The stamping on the bottom of the shank is Conquest in script followed by Digby over London Made. That is followed by London England and the shape number 9519. Digby is a GBD second line. It has the same blast as a GBD Prehistoric which lends one more question mark to what makes a pipe a second. In checking the GBD shape numbers there is no shape #9519 listed on the GBD shape site. http://www.perardua.net/pipes/GBDshape.html

The blast on the bowl was quite nice while the shank was rusticated. The person who added the new stem to the pipe changed the shank to fit the new stem rather than the other way around. In doing so they sanded the shank and removed the blast/rustication on the end of the shank. They also tapered both sides and top and bottom to meet the new stem. While both of these “errors” in fitting a stem are a pain to deal with they are not irreparable. It just means that any new stem must follow the new lines of the pipe and that the rustication pattern needs to be repaired as well. The bowl itself was thickly caked and the rim dirty and with a slight buildup of tars. The finish was spotty and the reddish brown stain was worn.




I went through my can of stems to find one that would properly fit a GBD style Canadian with an oval shank and found several. I chose the acrylic one in the photo below and used the PIMO Tenon Turning tool to reduce the diameter of the tenon. I also used the Dremel and sanding drum and hand sanding to further fit the tenon to the shank.


With the tenon fitting well, the overall diameter of the stem needed to be reduced to fit the shank diameter. It was just slightly bigger so the work on it would not be difficult. The excess is visible in the four photos below. Note also the smoothing of the shank that had been done in the previous repair.




I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to remove the excess acrylic material and bring the stem into line with the shank. I took care to not nick the shank even though I later planned to rework the rustication on it.




With the fit roughed in I took it back to the work table to hand sand the stem and make fit seamless. To begin the process I used 220 grit sandpaper to do the hand work. On the right side bottom of the shank I noted that the oval was slightly out of round with the stem removed and gave the new tapered stem a bulge in that area. I sanded the shank and the stem together at that point to correct the previous damage.




With the fit nearly finished on the stem I reamed the bowl of the pipe with a PipNet reaming set. I began with the smallest cutting head and then ended with the proper sized head for the bowl. I cut the cake back to bare wood.



I worked some more on the stem shank junction with a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches in the briar and the stem. I was more concerned with the briar as I wanted to give it a coat of stain.




Staining would be a complicated process of using a variety of stains to match the original stain colour on the prehistoric. For the first stain colour I used an oxblood aniline stain. I would use other stains later in the process to get the colour I was aiming for.


As I put the newly fitted stem in place so that I could lay it down to dry the tenon snapped on the new stem. As I examined it I could see the many small fractures in the acrylic. This is one of the frustrations of pipe repair. You get a pipe on its way to the finish line only to have something like this happen and have to begin again. I took another stem out of my can of stems. I once again had to go through the process of turning the tenon, using the Dremel and sanding drum and finally hand sanding to fit the tenon in the shank. I also had to trim back the diameter of the new stem to match the shank with the Dremel. One good thing is that doing it the second time everything is set up to do it again more quickly the second time.



Once I had a good fit on the stem it was time to re-rusticate the shank using an etching head on the Dremel. In the next two photos the cutting tool is visible and the rustication of the shank is completed. I did both sides of the shank and the top to match the pattern on the upper portion of the shank. On the underside I brought the pattern around the flattened oval stamping area of the shank and matched the pattern around that area.


I stained the newly rusticated shank area with the oxblood stain. The stained rustication is visible in the next four photos. I am pleased with the match on the pattern of the rustication on the shank that I was able to achieve with the tool.




I still needed to use several more colours of stain to achieve a match to the bowl. I used aniline black and an aniline dark brown stain to approximate the mix of stains to blend the repaired portion with the remainder of the pipe. I would still need to do a top coat of oxblood to truly blend in the repair.

I sanded the stem with the usual regimen of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads.

I gave the shank a final coat of the oxblood stain and lightly buffed the shank with White Diamond to blend the wear of the older portion with the new rustication. I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil and then buffed the stem with White Diamond as well. Once the buffing was done I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba on the wheel and then buffed it with a soft flannel buff. I rubbed in Halcyon II wax on the bowl and shank and then lightly buffed the bowl with a soft flannel buff. The “new” Digby Canadian is now ready for its inaugural smoke. It is shown below in the final four photos.




City de Luxe 9438

Blog by Al Jones

I have a number of GBD 9438’s on my rack and it is a favorite shape. I’ve always admired the City de Luxe stem logo but didn’t yet own that brand, a GBD second line. I didnt’ find much about the City de Luxe line, other than it appears to have existed since 1921. I couldn’t resist this 9438 shape I found on Ebay. Below is a copy of an old Oppenheimer ad I found on the web.


This one has a “twin bore” stem. I’ve never owned a twin-bore pipe and always considered it to be somewhat of a gimmick. I’ll have to see how it smokes to reserve judgement.

This is the pipe as it was delivered. The briar was in good shape with only a dulled finish and some tar build up on the rim. The stem was oxidized but also in very good shape.




I reamed the bowl and soaked in with some alcohol and sea salt. While the bowl was soaking, I also soaked the stem in a mild solution of Oxy-Clean. I put a dab of grease on the Star stem logo. I use shot glasses to hold my alcohol and add it to the bowl/salt with a dog medicine syringe. Another shot glass makes a good container for soaking the stem.

City_DeLuxe_Process (7)

City_DeLuxe_Process (1)

I easily removed the bowl top tars with a wet cloth and elbow grease. The bowl was then buffed with Tripoli, White Diamond and then several coats of Carnauba wax.

The next step was to clean the stem. One of the twin-bore draft holes was plugged with tobacco build-up, but a cleaner and alcohol freed the blockage. Curiously, there is a white plastic plug at the button. I was hoping perhaps it led to a traditional draft hole, but is only about 1/4″ deep. I’m not sure why that was drilled or inserted. I suspect the City de Luxe stems are premade. Even cleared, the draw was somewhat tight. I opened up the tenon end with several drill bits and I hope that makes the smoking draw easier.

City_DeLuxe_Process (6)

The Oxy-clean soak loosened the oxidation, so I started with 800 grit wet sandpaper. I like to use the highest grade paper possible to start as I want to remove as little stem material as possible. I progressed to 1000, 1500 and 2000 grades wet paper than moved to the 8000 and 12000 grades of micromesh. The stem was then buffed with white diamond rouge and a final buff the Blue Magic auto plastic polish. Below is a shot of the stem after the 800 grade paper and the polished bowl.


Below are pictures of the completed restoration a relatively easy task.

City_DeLuxe_9438_Finished (1)

City_DeLuxe_9438_Finished (2)

City_DeLuxe_9438_Finished (3)

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City_DeLuxe_9438_Finished (7)

Irwin’s (GBD Second) 9448 Refurbished

Blog by Greg Wolford

I picked this Irwin’s 9448 up not too long ago expecting it to be an easy clean up, which was partly right and partly wrong, and knowing it was a GBD second it should be a great pipe for the money. From the seller’s photos I figured a little heat to lift the tooth dents, some light sanding and then micro meshing and the stem would be good to go. The stummel I figured would need to be cleaned, soaked in an alcohol bath and retained. Here are the photos from the seller:

Seller's Photo

Seller’s Photo

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I forgot to take my own photos when the pipe arrived and during the process so only the seller’s before and my after photos will be shown. The process went as follows though:

The stummel was in better shape than I anticipated: it was dirty and did have a few dents to raise but was in really good condition overall. The stem was another story: the tooth dents were much deeper than the photos showed or than I had expected. I knew that this stem was going to require filling the dents and thought over a few options, which I have more to say on later here. So, I decided to start with the stummel.

After reaming the bowl and cleaning the shank, I began by wiping the pipe down with acetone on disposable cotton pads, and went through many of them. After get most of the dirt and wax off, I took some cotton swabs dipped in 91% isopropyl alcohol and began to work off the heavy build up on the rim. It was a slow process but as the layers came off I could see the rim was in very nice shape and didn’t need topped. Once all the gunk was off, I took a few more passes over the entire stummel with a couple more cotton pads wet with alcohol to make sure all the finish and dirt was removed. I then turned my attention to the dents: one on the front of the bowl, two on the bottom near where the curve of the bowl met the flat “sitter” area, and a couple on the rim.

I used my heat gun to heat up the end of an old kitchen “butter knife” and a wet scrap rag to produce the steam to raise the dents. All of them came out fairly easily except for one on the “sitter” portion and it took several applications of steam to get it out. But it did finally raise.

At this point I went to the buffer to see what the stummel looked like. I buffed it with some Tripoli and then again my hand with an old t-shirt. I saw then that the pipe had good color under all the dirt, it had just been hidden. And the steam had done its job very nicely, too, giving me a pretty well smoothed out stummel. There was one fill on the left side of the bowl but not a large one and it didn’t really stand out to my eye so I decided to leave it alone. I wiped it down with one more alcohol pad to remove any trace left from the Tripoli and then decided to not sand or re-stain it; the color was really nice and the grain showed in a nice contrast. So I set the stummel aside to work on the stem.

I began by heating the stem, with a pipe cleaner inserted to make holding, moving and not damaging the airway easier. The dents lifted some but, as I expected, were too deep to come anywhere near level. So now it was time to try some patching or filling of the dents.

A while back Al, another contributor here on the blog, had mentioned he had used cigar ash to fill in a few dents but that they were still visible repairs. I have been experimenting with a couple of ideas that so far have not made any great improvements over just using super glue alone. I thought that on this one I would try to make a patch with carbon reamed from the pipe. The carbon is much darker, a real black, than ash so I thought this might make a better repair. I worked in layers, packing in the carbon, applying a drip of super glue, allowing it to dry, sanding it back down with an emery board and repeating; I think I did three rounds on each side of the stem, trying raise the dents slowly and make them stronger in the long run. After the last application on the underside, I began to work with my needle files, then emery boards, 320 grit wet sand and finally onto micro mesh, wet sanding 1500-2400. I then applied the Novus 2 plastic polish, rubbing it on and off with cotton pads. The remaining grits of micro mesh I used dry through 12,000. Finally I used the Novus 2 again, applied the Mother’s Back to Black with my fingers and let it dry before buffing it off with another cotton pad. The final step was to polish it with the Novus 1 plastic polish. Now it was time to reassemble the pipe and take it back to the buffer. At this point I knew the patch wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be: it was better, I think, but it was also still noticeable.

I buffed the stummel with Tripoli again before I reassembled the pipe and buffed the entire pipe with white diamond. I then applied several coats of carnauba wax to the pipe and buffed it out with a new soft cloth wheel. This is what the pipe looks like now, cleaned up (except for the fact I smoked it before I took the photos) but without any new staining done to it.



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The bit area does look a lot better and it is smooth, almost; apparently the layering technique wasn’t my best idea as a small piece of the top patch came off at some point, probably on the buffer. Next time I will not work in layers but more like a briar-dust fill and do it all at once, which be faster, too. I do wish it were less noticeable on the whole,though.

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Before and After

Before and After

I have a few other ideas about trying to get a less visible patch that I may pursue. However, now that I know I can get black super glue, already made, that may be my future course. But the “can I do it myself ” part of me wants to keep experimenting so we shall see. If any of you readers have any ideas on making these repairs less visible I’d be most appreciative if you would share them in the comments section.

Refurbishing and Restemming an Irwin’s Canadian

One of the six pipes I picked up in Washington was a Canadian bowl sans stem that is stamped IRWIN’S over London Made on the top of the shank and London England over 1451 on the underside of the shank. It had a tenon still stuck in the shank and the bowl top was rough from beating it out on an ashtray or something. Irwin’s is a GBD line (seconds??? Though this one has no fills or flaws to suggest that). The grain is quite nice and the contrast staining was also well done. It always makes me wonder what makes a pipe move from the first line to a second line. You can see from the series of photos below that the bowl was dirty on the sides and the top was damaged quite severely. There were no cracks in the shank or the bowl so that was a bonus. The bowl was unevenly caked and pretty dirty as well.


I reamed and cleaned the bowl and then used a screw to pull the broken tenon from the shank. Once I had that removed I cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners and Everclear. Once the shank was clean I took a stem blank from my jar of stems and turned the tenon with the Pimo Tenon Turner until it was a close fit. Then I hand sanded the tenon until it was a good snug fit. I used the Dremel to take off the excess vulcanite and make a smooth transition between the stem and the shank. I then sanded the stem with medium grit Emery cloth to smooth out the surface of the scratches left behind by the Dremel sanding drum. From there I proceeded to use 220 grit sandpaper and also 340 grit sandpaper to further sand out the scratches. I wiped down the bowl with acetone to remove the dirt and grime and remnants of the top coat of stain. I wanted to prepare the surface for a new stain of diluted dark brown aniline. I also topped the bowl to remove the damage to the surface and clean up the edges of the bowl. The next two photos show the pipe with the stem fitting and the bowl cleaned and topped. It was ready for the staining once I sanded the rim top smooth with the micromesh sanding pads.


I diluted some dark brown aniline stain 3-1 with isopropyl alcohol and stained the bowl and rim. I flamed the stain and then restained it and flamed it again. I stained the rim two more times to darken the surface to match the bowl. I took it to the buffer and buffed the entirety with Tripoli and White Diamond. The four photos that follow show the pipe after staining. It was still too dark in my opinion to highlight the contrast of grains in the pipe so I took it back to my work table to deal with that.


I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove some of the stain and lighten the overall look of the pipe. It had to be wiped down several times to get the look I was after. The next series of photos show the bowl after repeated washings. I used a cotton pad soaked with acetone and scrubbed the surface to get the desired look. Once it was done I again took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond.


The stem still needed a lot of work to get it to the place of shiny newness. I continued to work on the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12,000 grit. The first three pads 1500-2400 I wet sanded the stem. The other 6 pads I dry sanded. After sanding with the pads through 4000 I used the Maguiar’s Scratch X 2.0 a second time and finished with the 6000, 8000 and 12000 grit sanding pads. I finished the polishing with a coat of Obsidian Oil and then buffed it with White Diamond a final time. I gave the entire pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a soft flannel buff. The next four photos show the finished pipe.



Refurb on a Irwin (GBD Second) Saddle stem Billiard

The 1976 GBD Catalogue says this about the Irwin pipes: “The warm dual-tone brown finish deepens with repeated smoking. Finest Rum is used in the special process of maturing these fine pipes. Its smooth flavour complements the natural taste of fine tobacco.” Knowing that when I came across this old timer I put in the pile to recondition while I was off this week. It is stamped Irwin over London England on the left shank. On the right side is the shape number 1207. It was caked a bit so I reamed the bowl and wiped it down with alcohol. The shank was dusty and dirty so it was cleaned as well. The bowl then went into the alcohol bath and sat for a half hour while I worked on the stem. It was in pretty good shape with a minimum of teeth chatter. I sanded out the tooth marks and sanded the residual oxidation on the stem. I then buffed the stem and polished it.

Once I was finished I took the bowl out of the bath and wiped it down. It was clean and once it dried was ready for sanding in preparation for a new coat of stain. I wiped it down with clean alcohol to remove any dust and then stained it with a cherry stain to bring out the brown highlights in the finish. I then buffed the entirety and waxed it with carnauba. I am very happy with the results. Thanks for looking. Here are the before shots:



Here are the pictures after refurbishing