Cleaning up a GBD Speciale 9438 Rhodesian

Blog by Mike Belarde

Hello. Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and walk through a fun clean up job on a GBD 9438.

I’m pretty excited about this pipe.  Like many readers of this site, the GBD 9438 Rhodesian is one of my favorite shapes. There is just something endearing about this rendition of the bent Rhodesian. The thick walls of these pipes also seem well suited for many of the flake tobaccos that I enjoy.  I was really thrilled when I won this pipe in an online auction out of New York.  The pipe looked to be in good condition in the pictures provided for the online listing. The stummel looked to have a nice smattering of bird’s eyes and some cross grain on the right side.

When I received the pipe, I found it to be in great condition. The stain looked a little faded, but the pipe had a nice orange-ish brown or reddish-brown tint to it. The stamping was legible and crisp. The rim was grungy and blackened. The chamber had only a trace of cake. The stem looked great. It was free of tooth marks and heavy oxidation, but looked to have some sanding marks, or scratches from being over buffed. All in all, I felt very pleased with the condition of the pipe.  Here are some pictures of the pipe, prior to cleaning process. As you can see from the photos, this pipe is in great shape for its age. Now let’s proceed to the cleaning process.

The first step in the process is to address the internals of both the briar and stem, and then clean up the grime on the stummel, and the carbon build up on the rim.  For this job I only grabbed a nylon bristled shank brush, some bristled and regular pipe cleaners, 99.9% isopropyl alcohol, and a bit of folded 320 grit sandpaper.I cleaned the shank over the sink with the shank brush dipped in alcohol. After each pass through the shank, I rinsed the shank brush under running water and re- dip it in the alcohol. I repeated this process until the soiling coming out on the shank brush began to lighten.   Once this happened, I transition to bristled pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol, and then lastly, regular pipe cleaners.

I also ran both alcohol dipped bristled and regular pipes cleans through the stem.  I was happy that the pipe was fairly clean and I only ran through a small hand full of pipe cleaners.

There wasn’t enough cake in the chamber to warrant the use of the reamer, so I opted to just sand out the chamber lightly with a folded piece of sandpaper.  Once that was completed, I scrubbed out the chamber and the shank with alcohol dipped cotton swabs. With the internals cleaned, I scrubbed the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and an old toothbrush. I then scrubbed the rim with an old green scouring pad. The rim and the chamber cleaned up well and appeared to be in good condition. I took the rest of the charring or darkening on the rim and inner rim with a folded piece of 320 grit sandpaper. I light sanded out the darkening on the rim and reestablished the slight bevel in the inner rim with the sandpaper. The stummel seemed to be fairly clean but I decided to de-ghost the piped further.  I inserted two folded tapered fluffy pipe cleaners through the shank and down into the chamber to act as a wick. To ensure that there was contact on all the surface of the internal walls of the shank, I add two more folded pipe cleaners into the large shank of the Rhodesian.   I have found using the fluffy pipe cleaners is easier for me than trying to fish an elongated cotton ball down the shank.  I then placed a cotton ball in the chamber and saturated it with isopropyl alcohol.

While the stummel was de-ghosting. I placed the stem in a small Tupperware container to soak in Briarville’s Oxidation Remover solution.  This pipe was very clean and I only let both the stummel and stem to soak for about eight hours.Both the alcohol and the Briarville solution further cleaned the pipe. I took the stem out of the solution and rinsed it and then ran some alcohol dipped pipe cleaners through it. I then scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and the scouring pad to clean it up further. I then worked on the stem. There appeared to be light scratches and a bit of pitting near the button. I took a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper and sanded out the damage the best I could. The sanding seemed to have taken care of most of the flaws in the stem.In the next step I took the stem through the progression of micromesh pads (1500-12000). I polished the stem with each pad and wiped the stem down with a cotton pad soaked in Obsidian Oil in between each pad. In the last step, I polished the stem with Before and After’s Extra Fine Polish. Satisfied with the progress on the stem, I turned my attention to the stummel. I polished the briar with the progression of micromesh pads (1500-12000) wiping it down with a damp paper towel. Once this step was done, I mixed some dye up to touch up the stain.I really liked the light orange or red tint that this pipe had, so I decided to try and re-stain it with British Tan. I mixed a one-to-one ratio of British Tan with alcohol to thin the leather dye down a bit. I like to apply the stain with a small hobby brush. I find that the brush helps me to coat the stummel evenly. Once the stain was applied, I used a small tea candle to fire the briar and set the dye. I let the stummel sit for a couple of hours and then removed some of the excess stain with a cotton pad soaked in acetone. After removing some of the excess stain with acetone I began to polish the stummel with the micromesh pad series (1500-12000). I wiped the briar down with a damp paper towel between each pad.

Once I was finished with the micro pads, I worked some Before and After Restoration Balm into the stummel. The pipe was really looking nice at this point! I let the balm sit for about 10 minutes and then buffed the stummel with a cotton cloth. In the last step of the process, I buffed both the stummel and stem with Red Tripoli and Blue Diamond.  I then gave both several coats of Carnauba wax and buffed them with a cotton cloth.

I’m really happy how this pipe turned out, and am looking forward to loading it up and relaxing with it in the backyard. Thanks for taking the time to read this post!

2 thoughts on “Cleaning up a GBD Speciale 9438 Rhodesian

  1. Dave

    Thanks for sharing this refurbish with us. GBD’s are great pipes, and the 9438 is a personal favorite. KUDOS.


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