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.
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.
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.