Tag Archives: Repairing a damaged rim top

Reworking a Damaged French Made GBD Speciale Standard 9465 Liverpool


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff and I purchased the lovely long shank GBD Liverpool from a fellow in Brazil, Indiana, USA. The grain on the pipe is a nice mix of flame, swirled and birdseye that works well with the brown stains of the briar and the black of the saddle stem. The rim top is crowned with a bevel inward and has some significant damage on the front right outer edge and top. The repeated burning of that area with a lighter flame has left behind a deep dip and burn that will need to be dealt with. It was hard to see with the thick cake in the bowl and the veritable eruption of lava over the top of the rim but it was very present. The finish was quite dirty with grit, grime and oils ground into the surface of the bowl and shank. The shank is stamped on both sides and on the left it reads GBD in an oval [over] Speciale [over] Standard. On the right side it reads France [over] the shape number 9465. The vulcanite stem was lightly oxidized and well dented with tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The button area was worn as well. There is a GBD brass oval roundel on the left side of the saddle stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe to capture its condition when it arrived at his place. It was going to take some work to bring this one back to life. But both of us thought that it would be worth it. Jeff took photos of the rim top and bowl that show the cake and overflowing lava on the top and edges of the bowl. It is really hard to know what it looks like under all of that. We have learned that it with either be badly damaged or it will have been well protected. Only cleaning it off would reveal which result was on this pipe. You can also see the burn damage on the right front outer edge. The stem had a lot of tooth chatter and marks that are clear in the photos that follow. There is some oxidation and the calcification on the stem surface. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show condition of the briar. You can see the dust and debris ground into the bowl. The burn damage on the outer rim edge of the right front is more apparent from the side view in the first photo. The grain is still quite nice. He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It was faint but was still was clear and readable as noted above. The brass GBD roundel looked good as well. I always like to be able to set the pipe I am working on in its historical setting so I turn to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD) and read through the brand history. Toward the middle of the article I found what I was looking for. I quote below:

The Paris factory moved to Saint-Claude in 1952. Since 1981 the majority of GBD pipes come from the English factory.

The premium lines of GBD offered very good values, and are considered amongst the most affordable high end pipe of the 1960’s and earlier and a rival in quality, design, and price to Dunhill. Smokers’ Haven was the main retail supplier for GBD’s in the US until the early 1980’s.

GBD produced consistently well made pipes, almost entirely of Algerian or Grecian briar. In the late 1960’s to late 1970’s, they introduced the “Collector” and “Unique” lines, made primarily by Horry Jamieson, who had carved for Barling for many years, and was skilled in freehand design. Older GBD pieces are excellent smokers and unique in design. They did an excellent executions of classic pipe shapes, as well as some beautiful freehands in the “Unique” line. [2]

The following list comprises the better grades in descending order:

Pedigree, Pedigree I, Pedigree II, Straight Grain, Prodigy, Bronze Velvet, Virgin, Varichrome, Prestige, Jubilee, New Era, Prehistoric, International, Universe, Speciale Standard, Ebony, Tapestry, New Standard, Granitan, Sauvage, Sierra, Penthouse, Legacy, Concorde.

Since the pipe I was working on was made in France I knew that it was made either in Paris before 1952 or in St. Claude after that date and before 1981 when production moved to England. I also new that I was dealing with one of the better grade pipes with the Speciale Standard stamp.

I then followed the links included to a listing of the shapes and numbers on the GBD pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). The pipe I was working on was labeled by GBD as a 9465 which is a Liverpool with a round shank. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual focus on detail. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush and was able to remove the thick lava build up on the rim top. 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 soaked the stem in Briarville’s Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top, inner and outer edges of the bowl other than the burn damage on the front right were in good condition. The crowned inner edge also has some rim darkening and burn damage on the front right as well. The stem surface looked good with some large and deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.  He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It was faint but readable as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole.  Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I decided to begin by dealing with the damage on the front of the rim top and bowl. I sanded it slightly to give a clear picture of the damage in the photo below. I have marked it in red to help identify the damaged area.Now I had a decision to make on this repair. I could top the bowl and shorten the height of the entire bowl to accommodate the damage on the front of the rim. To me this would look awkward as the dip is quite deep. The other option to me was to build up the dip in the rim top and edge with briar dust and clear CA glue (super glue) to the same height as the rest of the bowl. I decided to build up the bowl top. To begin the process I topped the bowl to give me a flat surface and to remove the other damage to the rim top.I wiped off the burned area with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean off any debris. I layered on the first batch of CA glue and then used a dental spatula to put briar dust on top of the glue. I repeated the process until I had the rim top level. Once the repair cured I topped it once again to make sure that the repaired area matched the rest of the rim top. I used a topping board and 220 grit sandpaper.I took photos of the rim top and bowl front to show the repair. It is dark and still needs a lot of work but it is at least the right height and is smooth. You can also see the slight bevel that was on the inner edge of the rim on the rest of the bowl. I would need to continue that on the repaired area to match.I worked on the inner beveled edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give it a deep bevel. I also sanded the rim top repair to further smooth it out. The repair is starting to look good at this point.  I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris and dust.   I restained the rim edge and top with a combination of Maple and Walnut stain pens to blend the colour to the rest of the bowl. The rim top looked darker but it looked much better than when I started the repair.I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks. It worked very well and many of the marks lifted. I filled in the remaining marks with clear CA glue and let the repairs cure. I used a small file to flatten out the repairs. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the stem surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper.     I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This French Made GBD Speciale Standard 9465 Liverpool is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich contrasting brown stained finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the a finish that works well with the polished vulcanite stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished GBD Speciale Standard Liverpool sits nicely on the desk top and in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ of an inch, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 35 grams/1.23 ounces. I will be putting it on the French Pipe Maker section of the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Repairing a Trio of His Dad’s Pipes for a fellow here in Vancouver – Part 3


Blog by Steve Laug

Last week I received a call from a fellow pipeman, Keith here in Vancouver who had been referred to me by City Cigar, a local pipe and cigar shop in the city. He was a soft spoken gentleman who had a request for me. In January  this year his Dad died and he had three of his Dad’s pipes that he wanted restored in memory of his Dad. He also was a pipe smoker so he fully intended to enjoy them for a long time as he smoked them in his Dad’s honour. I told him to send me some photos of the pipes so I would know what I was dealing with.

I received the email below from Keith that included the photos of the pipes that he wanted me to work on. He even went to the trouble of marking the trouble with each of the pipes that needed work.

Hi Steve,

Glad your call back today, my name is Keith, I got your contact from City Cigar. My dad has three pipes include two Dr Plumb DINKY and one not sure brand. My dad passed this year January and I looking for fix those pipes which had broken and cracked, understand they are not expensive pipes but for me is priceless memory…

…Have a wonderful day!

Best regards

Keith

I called him as soon as I received the photos and talked over what I saw when I looked them over. We struck a deal and he dropped them off to me late on Friday afternoon and I started to work on them a bit over the weekend. All three pipes needed varying degrees of work on them. Two were Dr. Plumb Dinky Bent Billiards and one was a Real Briar Dublin. I decided to work on them in the order of the photos that he sent me. I completed the restoration of the first one and posted the blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/03/16/repairing-a-trio-of-his-dads-pipes-for-a-fellow-here-in-vancouver-part-one/). I finished the second Dr. Plumb Dinky Bent Billiard as well (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/03/17/repairing-a-trio-of-his-dads-pipes-for-a-fellow-here-in-vancouver-part-two/). Give them a read.

The third of them is Real Briar Straight Billiard. It was in rough shape with burn damage on the rim top and inner edge as well as many fills that were damaged around the bowl. There was a crack in the shank on the top side. The rim top was damaged on both the front side and there was a thick cake in the bowl. In the first two photos show what the pipe looks like as a whole. You can see the damage on the outer edge of the rim on both as well as the damage at the stem shank junction. The third photo Keith included show the damage to the rim top – he identifies it as ring damage. The crack in the top of the shank is also visible in the photo. I took pictures of the pipe when Keith dropped it off before I started my clean up work. The rim top was darkened and damaged with burn and charring on the front left rim top and inner edge. It appeared to also have been lit with a torch lighter. There were chips around the outer edge of the bowl and shrunken fills in the finish. You can also see the crack in the topside of the shank at the end of the shank. I took a close up photo of the rim to show the condition of the bowl and the rim. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the damage to the rim top and inner edge of the bowl as noted above and shown in the photo below. The cracked shank is also visible. I also took photos of the stem to show the general condition as noted above.I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank – it was clear and readable (though double stamped) and read REAL BRIAR.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe. There is something quite winsome about this pipe though it was a little bigger than the two Dr. Plumb Dinky Bent Billiards.  I took a photo of the crack and damaged shank. It was missing a piece of briar and was a significant issue. The stem had been held in place with a build up of wax or white glue around the tenon. Fortunately it had dried before being put on the shank.I decided to address the cracked shank first. Interestingly it turned back on itself so it was not going further up the shank. The missing chip was the other side of the crack. That made this quite simple. I squeezed the shank together and pressed some briar dust into the crack. While holding it I dribbled some CA glue in the crack and held it until the glue cured. I filled in the spots on the shank again with CA and more briar dust until they were smooth. I put a small bead of glue around the shank end and pressed the band I had chosen for the shank onto it. It was a snug fit and the glue would guarantee the fit to the shank. That was the end of the crack. I topped the bowl on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to remove the damage to the rim top and minimize the damage to the inner and outer edges.I paused and took photos of the banded shank to give an idea of that it looked like repaired and banded. I finished topping the bowl and gave the inner edge a bevel to minimize the damage on the front inner edge. The pipe was beginning to look very good.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. I took the cake back to bare briar and the bowl looked to be in good condition under the cake.I filled in the badly damaged fills around the bowl with clear CA glue and then sanded them smooth to blend them into the surface of the briar. I sanded the bowl with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads to remove the shiny varnish coat and then restained the bowl with a light brown stain. I applied the stain then flamed it to set in the briar. I repeated the process until the coverage was acceptable. I set the bowl aside for an hour and let the stain coat cure.Once the stain had cured I wiped it down with a cotton pad and alcohol to make it more transparent. There was not a lot of grain around the bowl but I really wanted to give the bowl a sense of depth. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each  pad with a damp cloth. As the finish becomes more transparent I like what I see. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips 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. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. Earlier, when I was working on the first Dinky pipe I had taken the stem out of the Briarville Pipe Stem Deoxidizer Bath and dried it off with a cotton pad. It looked better. I scrubbed the softened oxidation with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner and removed the remaining oxidation. I cleaned out the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners and it was surprisingly clean. I went back and did the same with the shank and it also was relatively clean other than the debris from when I reamed the bowl.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. With the bowl and the stem finished I put the third pipe – a Real Briar Straight Dublin, back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel. 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 really is a great looking pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inch. The weight of this small pipe is .88 ounces /25 grams. This third pipe from the estate is a small Real Briar Dublin that will be another great reminder for Keith of his Dad’s pipe smoking and one that he can enjoy for a long time. With the completion of the last of the pipes I am sure he will want to pick them up soon. Once he does he will be excited to load them with a memorable tobacco and slip back into the memories of his Dad. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

The Restoration of a Savinelli Alligator 207 Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

If you read the previous blog on the Bari Special Handcut pipe you have also read that for the past month or more I have been carrying on an online conversation with a Colonel in the Indian Military about his own pipe refurbishing and repair work. In the process of talking through a variety of the processes of pipe restoration he asked if I would be willing to work on a few of his pipes that had chipped or broken stems. We decided to look into what it would take to ship them to Canada from India. It seemed like a pretty daunting task but nonetheless he has some pipes in transit to me in Vancouver. In the meantime he wrote and said he had picked up a Bari and a Savinelli Alligator pipe and had the EBay seller send them directly to me in Canada so I could refurbish them for him and add them to the box of other pipes I would be sending back to him. I agreed and this week the pipes arrived.

Once I finished the Bari I worked the Savinelli Alligator apple shaped pipe. I have never been attracted to the alligator finish as it just did not work for me. This one however had some very nice looking grain underneath the rustication and in the smooth portions of the finish. The finish was dirty with dirt, grime and oils in the finish and rim edge. It looks good underneath that grime. The bowl has been reamed but a bit poorly. There is some scraping to the inner edge that has affected the roundness of the bowl on the left side and rear edges of the bowl. It is a filter pipe made for the Savinelli triangular Balsa filter that fits in the stem and extends partially into the shank. These are one of the better filters but should be either flushed out with alcohol or replaced often. The seller put a new filter in place in the stem. The stem fit well in the shank but looking down the shank it is dirty and covered with oils and tar. The stem is oxidized (though not as bad as the Bari was). It had some small tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button. The stem logo is very faint and may not show up well once the stem is cleaned up. I took photos of the pipe to record the condition it was in when it arrived here in Vancouver. It gives me a benchmark to measure the finished pipe against as well. I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl. The bowl had a thick cake in it all the way down to the heel. The rim top has some light lava overflow but it is not too bad. There is damage on the left side and back inner edge of the bowl that can be seen in the first photo below. The stamping on the underside of the pipe is quite readable through the grime. It reads Alligator and next to that is the Savinelli S Shield logo followed by the shape number 207 over Italy. Next to that it reads Savinelli Product. There is a brass separator on the stem that adds a touch of class to the shank/stem union.I took photos of the stem condition as well. You can see it is oxidized but not in bad condition. The light tooth marks on both sides are barely visible in the photos below. There is a very faint alligator stamp on the left side of the stem in an oval. It is faint enough that I am concerned that there is not enough depth to recolour it but time will tell.I dropped the badly oxidized stem in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak away the oxidation. In this case the oxidation was quite thick and the stamping on the left side was so shallow that I did not want to do a lot of sanding. The deoxidizer could do its work. I put the lid on the airtight container and left the stem to soak overnight.I turned my attention to the bowl and the cleanup that was awaiting me there. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the second cutting head to work away the heavy cake. I worked at it very slowly so as to keep the blade from creating further damage to the roundness of the bowl. I cleaned up the remaining cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife taking it to almost bare briar and smoothing things out. I used a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to work on the inner edge and the damage to the top of the rim on the left and back edge of the bowl and down into the bowl about an inch. With the bowl reamed it was time to clean out the internals of the bowl and shank. I used 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the accumulated tars and grime in the shank and airway. I folded the used pipe cleaners and swabbed out the walls of the bowl with them. I scraped out the walls of the mortise using a small pen knife blade to remove the buildup on the walls and give the interior a clean smell and feel.I wiped the exterior of the bowl with a damp cloth and then scrubbed it with the Before & After Restoration Balm. I was sure that it would work well on the alligator pattern and the dirty condition of the finish on this pipe. I worked it into the grooves of the rustication with my fingers, rubbing it deep into the grooves. I used a shoe brush to further work it into the finish. I touched up the repaired rim top and edges with a dark brown stain pen and blended the colour into the rest of the stain on the bowl. I buffed the bowl with a shoe brush to further blend the stain on the rim. At this point the rim was looking far better. I buffed the bowl on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond using a light touch. The photos below show the bowl after the buffing. It is really starting to look good at this point. Once the stem is done I will buff it a bit more and give it several coats of wax but for now it is finished and I am calling it a night. I took the stem out of the bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and wiped it down with a paper towel to remove the excess deoxidizer. I ran pipe cleaners and alcohol through the airway to clean out the buildup inside. The stem was very clean and the oxidation was gone. The tooth marks in the surface of the stem on both sides near the button were even less visible.I used some European God Rub’n Buff to touch up the very faint logo on the left side of the stem. It helped a bit but it is pretty shallow so I am not sure it will last too long.I sanded the pipe lightly around the button to remove the tooth marks using 220 grit sandpaper. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. At this point I was not happy with the remaining oxidation that showed up under the flash of the camera so I went back to the drawing board and reworked it with the sanding pads. Once I finished reworking the oxidation, I put the stem back on the bowl and took the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. I gently buffed the rusticated bowl with Blue Diamond to polish the briar. I buffed the stem at the same time to raise the gloss on the vulcanite carefully working around the faint stamping on the stem. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am hoping that the fellow I am restoring it for enjoys the second of his “new pipes”. For now he will have to enjoy it by looking at the photos but soon it will wing its way back to India. Thanks for looking.