Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table is another one that is a bit of a mystery to me. It is obviously one that I picked up on one of my hunts or in a trade as it has not been cleaned at all. Once again I have no memory of finding the pipe so I have no way to connect it to a time period. I do know that it has been here for quite a while and I am just now getting to it. I try to eventually work the pipes we find into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This one is a bent billiard shaped pipe. It has some nice mixed grain around the bowl and shank with a vulcanite stem. It was stamped on the left side of the shank and reads City de Luxe [over] London Made. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in England without a shape number. The finish was clean but there was a road rash on the left side where the pipe had been dropped. There was a cake in the bowl but the rim top looked surprisingly good. The inner edge of the rim was also in good condition. The vulcanite stem lightly oxidized and there was some damage on the right side where it met the shank. It had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. There was an inlaid metal star logo on the left side of the taper stem.
Before I started working on it I did a bit of research on the brand to remind myself of what I knew of the maker. I turned to Pipephil’s site first (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c5.html). I did a screen capture of the information on the site. I did a screen capture of the pertinent information and have included it below. I then turned to Pipedia and read the article on the GBD brand that was helpful and interesting to read (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD).The article also included a flyer from Oppenheimer’s on the City de Luxe. The copy on the advertising flyer is an interesting read. Now it was time to clean up this pipe and get it restored. I cleaned the pipe with the methodology that Jeff and I have developed. The pipe was in decent condition when I took it out of my box so the cleanup would be straight forward. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. You can see that it is classic shaped bent billiard with a mix of grain around the bowl. The finish was surprisingly clean and quite pretty. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show the condition of the cake in the bowl and look of the rim top. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks, light oxidation and general condition of the stem surface. There was a deep tooth mark on the top side of the stem near the button with a small bite through. I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank and it is faint but readable. It is stamped as noted above. You can also see the inlaid metal star on the left side of the stem. I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. The road rash is visible on the heel of the bowl. Also note the metal inner tube in the tenon.I decided to start my restoration by getting rid of the cake in the bowl. I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. Once I finished the bowl was smooth and clean. I was glad to see that there was no internal damage. I followed that by scrubbing out the internals of the shank and the airway with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. I heated the inner tube with a lighter and was able to remove the inner tube so I could clean out the stem. I scrubbed the tube and the airway in the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the briar. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Once it is polished it will come to life. Once it was clean I decided to address the deep road rash damage on the left side and heel of the bowl. I filled the deep cuts in with clear super glue and once it had cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl off after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush 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 greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and slid it into the airway of the stem from the button. I filled in the tooth dent and small bite through next to the button on the topside and the dent on the underside with Black Super Glue and set the stem aside to let the glue cure. Once the repair had cured, I smoothed it out with a needle file and sharpened the edges of the button. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation and to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This restored GBD Made City de Luxe London Made Bent Billiard is a nice looking pipe. The contrasting brown stains on the pipe worked really well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel keeping a light touch on the buffing wheel for the bowl. I followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished City de Luxe Bent Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on the previous pipe man’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have 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.