By Al Jones
We’ve seen a few “Penthouse” brand pipes in this blog over the years, but this is the first one that has been on my workbench. “Penthouse” was a GBD 2nd line pipe. In a 1977 Tinderbox catalog, they were priced at $11, while a Prehistoric was $23. This line came with the “Chair-Leg” stem that was also seen on the Tapestry and Fantasty GBD lines. These are a challenge to restore and every time I work on one, I say it will be my last.
Below is a Tinderbox catalog page.
The 9438 is GBD’s iconic Rhodesian shape, of which I am a fan. So, when this one popped up on Ebay, I grabbed it. The stem was heavily oxidized, but overall it looked to be in decent shape. This was the first time I’ve seen the 9438 shape on a Penthouse pipe.
After opening the package, I could see that the stem had several teeth marks, but there were no other surprises. There were a few dings around the bowl that would have to be addressed. Below is the pipe as it was received.
The country of manufacture mark (COM) shows the “London,England” stamp that was used prior to the 1981 merger. There was a faint “PH” stamp on the top of the stem, where the GBD brass rondell would reside.
The bowl had a very slight cake built-up, which was removed with various reamer inserts. I finish the bowl interior with a piece of 320 grit paper, wrapped around a reamer insert. The bowl was then soaked with sea salt and alcohol. While working on the bowl, the stem was soaked in a mild Oxy-Clean solution.
Following the two soaks, the stem was mounted. The were one deeper tooth mark on the top of the stem. Heat from a lighter lifted it slightly, but I decided to fill it with black superglue and accelerator was used to speed the process. The glue fill was smoothed with 400 grit wet paper, then finished when the oxidation was removed. To remove the oxidation, I used 400, 800, 1000, 1500 and 2000 grade wet papers. To clean out the creases in the turned stem, I wrapped each paper around a thin needle file. The stem was then buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish.
I used an electric iron set on high with a wet cloth to steam out many of the dings around the bowl. A piece of worn scotchbrite was used to remove the bowl-top build up. The bowl was then buffed with White Diamond and several coats of carnuba wax.
Below is the finished pipe. There were some minor teeth marks on the bottom of the stem, near the button, so left those alone.