Tag Archives: Repairing a burned rim top

Working on a GBD Standard 323 Smooth Apple from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

I am continuing to work through Bob Kerr’s estate. The next pipe on the table is a GBD Standard Apple, smooth bowl and shank a beveled rim top. It is an Standard with a black vulcanite stem. I am continuing to cleanup Bob’s estate for his family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection there were a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.

I have been collecting and restoring GBD pipes for as long as I have worked on pipes. This one also has a beautiful mix of grain under the grime on the finish. It is quite beautiful! The pipe is stamped GBD in an oval over Standard on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped London, England and the shape number 323. It had a rich brown stain that does not look too bad. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a lava overflow on the rim. The inner edge of the rim and top are dirty and had a thick lava coat. The edges appear to have a bit of burn damage on the front inner edge and the front outer edge has a bit of wear damage. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end. Again, surprisingly did not have the tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. There appears to be a little damage on the left front inner and outer edges of the bowl. Otherwise it looks pretty good.    Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain through the debris – both birdseye and cross grain. The finish was very dirty. There is a small putty fill on the lower right side of the bowl.     Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos. On the left side it read GBD in an oval over Standard. On the right is reads London, England over the shape number 323. On the left side of the saddle stem was an inlaid brass GBD rondel. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. The edges of the button looked very good with slight wear on the edges.  I already cleaned up and restore another Standard from Bob’s estate and did the research on the brand while working on that one (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/10/back-to-bob-kerrs-estate-working-on-a-gbd-standard-9136-bent-billiard/). In that blog I referenced an article on Pipedia. The article gives a lot in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD). I quote the section where I found the reference to the Standard.

I also turned to the reference page on the site for GBD shapes and numbers and could not find any information on that shape number (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). There was nothing there with the 323 number though there were other apple shaped pipes in the 335-345 numbers. So once again there is a mystery on this one.

With that information in hand I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping and the age of this pipe. I knew from the information from the section quoted that the Standard originally came out in the 20s. In the late 1930s the New Standard was introduced after the war. So this is another one of Bob’s older pipes – late 1920s to early 30s. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I am really appreciating Jeff’s help cleaning them up. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked good. The stem still sported some deep oxidation but otherwise it was clean. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. The rim top looks pretty good. There is some darkening on the top edge and a burn marks on the inner and outer edge. There is also some damage on the outer rim on the rim. The photos show a few small dents on the surface of the stem and the nick out of the top of the button on the topside. You can also see the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.      I am going to keep posting the next paragraph because of the importance of protecting the stamping/nomenclature.

One of the things I appreciate about Jeff’s cleanup is that he works to protect and preserve the nomenclature on the shank of the pipes that he works on. The stamping on this one was very faint to start with so I was worried that it would disappear altogether with the cleanup. He was not only able to preserve it but it is clearer than shown in the earlier photos. I took some photos to show the clarity of the stamping. I have noticed that many restorers are not careful to protect the stamping in their cleaning process and often by the end of the restoration the nomenclature is almost destroyed. I would like to encourage all of us to be careful in our work to preserve this as it is a critical piece of pipe restoration! Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

Now, on to the rest of the restoration on this GBD Standard 323 Tapered stem Billiard. Since Jeff had done such an amazing clean up job on the bowl it was going to be a very easy job for me. There was some darkening and damage on the rim top, the inner and outer edges of the rim that needed to be addressed. I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove and minimize the damage to the top and the edges. I continued by starting to polish it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped the rim edge down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust on the briar. The first photo below shows the rim top when I started and the second one below shows it after the work. The finished rim top looked much better than when I started. I was able to minimize the damage on the front inner edge of the rim. It is still damaged but it looks considerably better. Once I clean it and stain it the rim edge will look better. I polished the rim top and sides of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl and rim down with damp cloth after each sanding pad. The more I polished the rim top the more the rim blended in with the rest of the finish. I would not need to stain it.    I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good.    I have one more tin of Denicare Mouthpiece Polish left from a few that I have picked up over the years. It is a coarse red pasted that serves to help remove oxidation. I polished the stem with that to further smooth out the surface of the vulcanite (and to be honest – to use it up).  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.    I can’t tell you how great it feels to be moving through these 125 pipes – about 39 done so far! It is an overwhelming task that can only be achieved one pipe at a time. So each time I finish one of the pipes from Bob Kerr’s Estate I look forward to what it will look like when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and 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. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich medium brown smooth finish really popped with buffing showing the grain on the pipe. The polished thin black vulcanite taper stem went really well with the colours of the bowl. This old GBD Standard 323 Apple was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has the classic GBD Apple shape that is very recognizable. The medium brown stain really makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in 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. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have a lot more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Restoring a 1983 Dunhill Shell 41009 Oval Shank Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next collection of pipes that I am working on comes from the estate of an elderly gentleman here in Vancouver. I met with his daughter Farida last summer and we looked at his pipes and talked about them then. Over the Christmas holiday she brought them by for me to work on, restore and then sell for her. There are 10 pipes in all – 7 Dunhills (one of them, a Shell Bulldog, has a burned out bowl), 2 Charatans, and a Savinelli Autograph.  He loved his pipes and she said that he was rarely seen without a pipe in his mouth. He traveled a lot and she remembers him having one of these pipes with him in the far north of Canada. His pipes are worn and dirty and for some they have a lot of damage and wear that reduce their value. To me each one tells a story. I only wish they could speak and talk about the travels they have had with Farida’s dad. Each of them has extensive rim damage and some have deeply burned gouges in the rim tops. The bowls were actually reamed not too long ago because they do not show the amount of cake I would have expected. The stems are all covered with deep tooth marks and chatter and are oxidized and dirty. The internals of the mortise, the airway in the shank and stem are filled with tars and oils. I took pictures of the Dunhill pipes in the collection. There are some nice looking pipes in the lot. The first pipe that I am working on is a Shell Oval Pot. I have circled in the above three photos in red to identify it for you. It is an interesting shape. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank with the shape number 41009 next to Dunhill Shell over Made in England 23. Dating this pipe is a fairly easy proposition. You take the two digits following the D in England and add them to 1960. In this case it is 1960+23= 1983. (Pipephil’s site has a helpful dating tool for Dunhill pipes that I use regularly http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/shell-briar1.html). It was in pretty rough shape. The bowl itself looked good and the finish was in decent condition. The top of the rim was rough and the inner edge was badly damaged. There were spots on the front of the rim top and at the rear that had deep burns into the briar. The briar was burned to a point where I could pick it out with my fingernail. The shank was so dirty that the stem would not properly seat in the mortise. The stem was not too bad – tooth marks on the underside near the button and lots of chatter on both sides. It was lightly oxidized and there was some calcification on the first inch of the stem. I took some photos of the pipe before I started to clean it up. I took close up photos of the rim top, bowl and the stem to show the condition the pipe was in before I started my clean up. The first photo shows the damage on the top of the rim and particularly the inner edge of the bowl. You can see the damage on the front edge and the back edge of the bowl. There was some major burn damage on the inner edge of the bowl. The rim top also had some tars and lava on the surface that would need to be addressed before I could work on the burned areas. The surface of the bowl was dirty and grimy with dust and oils ground into the grooves of the sandblast. The photos show the light cake in the bowl and the dust and grime on the finish. The stem photos show the oxidation and the tooth chatter and tooth marks on the stem surface. You can also see that the stem does not seat in the shank well.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer to cut back the cake to bare briar. I finished cleaning up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I used the knife to scrape away the soft briar from the burned areas of the rim top. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean up the grooves in the good portion of the rim top. I also cleaned out the burned areas. I wiped out the burned areas with cotton swabs and alcohol to clean out the remaining dust and leave it clean. I built up both areas with briar dust and super glue. I used a dental spatula to apply the briar dust to the glue. I built it up in layers until it was level and the inner walls were round.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the bowl. I worked on it to round the edges. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to smooth out the hard spots of dried glue and dust. I used the brass bristle wire brush to clean out the grooves in the rustication on the rim top. With the rim top basically finished (other than rusticating it with a Dremel and burr) I worked on cleaning out the internals in the shank. I used a dental spatula to scrape out the hard tars and oils that had lined the walls in the mortise. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the shank was clean.I used a dental burr in my Dremel to rusticate the top of the rim. I wanted to match the repaired areas to the rest of the rim top. I slowly and carefully put divots in the surface to match the rest of the surface of the rim. I restained the rim with a dark brown aniline stain and a cotton swab to get the stain deep in the recesses of the repaired rim top.I rubbed Before & After Restoration Balm into the deep grooves and crevices of the sandblast on the rim and the rest of the bowl. I rubbed it until it was deep in the briar. It was amazing to see the grime and dirt on the cotton pad that I wiped it down with. The balm brought life and a rich glow to the briar. I rubbed the bowl down with Conservator’s Wax and buffed the pipe with a shoe brush. I took it to the buffer and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a clean microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The photos below show the repaired and restored bowl. It has come a long way from the damaged pipe I started with when I began. I laid the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned the surface with alcohol and a cotton pad and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I scrubbed until the cleaners came out white. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tooth chatter and remove the tooth marks. Fortunately they were not too deep so they came out with a little elbow grease.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped them down after each pad with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine to take out some of the tiny scratches in the vulcanite. I finished by rubbing it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond being careful to not fill the grooves in the blast with the polishing compound. I used a regular touch on the stem to polish out any remaining scratches. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the first of six Dunhill pipes that I am restoring from Farida’s dad’s collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Farida thinks once she sees the finished pipe on the blog. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store as she wants to sell them for the estate. It should make a nice addition to a new pipeman’s rack that can carry on the trust from her father. The dimensions are; Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me it was a fun pipe to work on. Cheers.