GBD R9239 -- One of the Coolest Pipes in the World

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georged

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Mar 7, 2013
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Something called "Streamline Moderne" design was once a very big deal in the Western world.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streamline_Moderne
Its peak of popularity was the decade preceding WWII. Everything from toasters to cars to... tobacco pipes 8) were produced under its spell.
The GBD R9239 is the King of Them All, imo. Not only graceful, sweeping, and voluptuous---the very definition of streamlined---but adorned with an audaciously large sterling silver band that didn't simply "work", but added to the lushness.
I've seen several R9239's over the years, and this particular specimen is the most well-cut of them all. How such perfection of line was achieved in a high production environment is a mystery.
The condition of the pipe was average---nothing going on with the stem or stummel that couldn't be set right with routine procedures---except for the area above the rings. The rim was ashtray-hammered, and the area below the rim had some gouges and deep, pinpoint burns from someone who'd attempted to raise the dents with steam and heat.
So, the challenge was to shave a bit of wood from the top of the bowl---the rim itself---as well as the conical section leading down to the rings in a very special way: while maintaining the original surfaces' gently convex cross section. Meaning keep the radius while "tilting" it inward.
Doing that by hand uniformly enough to 1) pass the "gleam lines test" of uniformity (no flat spots or uneven symmetry); 2) avoid jacking the rings; and 3) not create unwanted edge radii, called for more luck than I was comfortable counting on. (Remember, there is no rewind button on stuff like this---taking off a few thousandths too much wood anywhere above those rings would stand out like a sore thumb, and it couldn't be put back.)
So, the the stummel was mounted backwards (?!) in a lathe via its tobacco chamber (on a cylindrical reaming tool :mrgreen: ), the assembly centered and squared with a dial indicator, and the wood shaved off.
Then came matching the color and depth of the now-raw briar above the rings to the rich, mahogany-overtoned walnut color below them, along with its 80-year-patina. Meaning match when viewed under any light source, florescent, incandescent, or sunlight.
Some projects are still able to get my heart beating a bit faster, and this was one of them: A straightforward repair that anyone can understand, but that's borderline-impossible to do invisibly well... and pull it off. :D
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sablebrush52

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Jun 15, 2013
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Wow! IINdeed! Beautiful job on this pipe, George!
In LA we have a number of steamline moderne buildings. They are defined by curved corners, port hole window, and railings. Two of the best were the old May Company department store and the Coca Cola bottling and distribution facility.

 

glpease

Member
Jun 17, 2010
232
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California
Fantastic work, as usual, and a really lovely pipe in the end. Dammit. I have a couple of nice 9242s, but not a single 9239. Something else to be on the lookout for.

 

huntertrw

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Jul 23, 2014
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The Lower Forty of Hill Country
georged:
You, Sir, are a craftsman and an artist, and I salute your skill in reviving this pipe! My first question after seeing the "before" image was 'how is he going to address the missing material below the rim on the pipe's left-hand side?', but you answered that in your post and did a fine job in the execution.
Regarding the fourth image it appears that the pipe's silver band has moved, for the nomenclature is upside-down. Were the band to be rotated so that the nomenclature was on the same side as the GBD rondelle in the stem, then it would be oriented correctly.

 

ssjones

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May 11, 2011
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I've been waiting to see this one, the owner teased us on his Facebook page the other day.
When this pipe popped up on Ebay last year (or maybe 2016?), it was first time that I had seen that shape. I grabbed the one that was listed late last year, which curiously is also a 1937 hallmark dated pipe. My band is 180 degree reversed from this pipe.
The shape is very pleasing and I consider it to be the pinnacle of my GBD and British pipe collection. These two examples are the only ones that I've ever seen.
I wonder what the 9239 shape number infers? It is identical in all dimensions to my sandblast 9242. What prompted the shape number change? Better grain, the addition of the silver band? Details lost to time I'm afraid.


 

skaukatt

Senior Member
May 9, 2009
382
5
George, I don't know if I am more in shock with the Minnesota Vikings win this past Sunday or the absolutely heart stopping and stunning restoration here! Seriously, though, I could not put into words effectively enough to express the satisfaction and gratitude regarding this restoration! I love your science and engineering behind each step and the complexity and gravity of the process are not lost on me.
Unbelievable and incredible do not do it justice!
Lou

 

georged

Preferred Member
Mar 7, 2013
2,612
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Regarding the fourth image it appears that the pipe's silver band has moved, for the nomenclature is upside-down. Were the band to be rotated so that the nomenclature was on the same side as the GBD rondelle in the stem, then it would be oriented correctly.
Sad but true.
I went as far as I dared trying to loosen it with heat and realign, but it didn't budge. It's one of those situations where going further was binary---either complete success or unrecoverable disaster (torn or wrinkled band), so discretion trumped valor.
How it spun in the first place is probably straightforward---it simply became loose, the owner noticed, and pressed the end of the shank against a flat surface to reseat it. What he didn't notice (or care about?) was it had rotated 170 degrees. Decades of smoking did the rest, swelling the wood enough to lock it in place.
It might be possible to shift it by putting the stummel in a unusually dry environment like a jerky dessicator/dehydrator for an extended period, but that's just a guess. I don't have such a device in any event.
PS --- thanks to all for the kind words. In my world, this one was a E-ticket ride. :D

 

ssjones

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May 11, 2011
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If you have every seen a silver pipe band removed, its scary business. They are impossibly thin, you can crush them with light finger pressure.

 

menuhin

Preferred Member
Oct 21, 2014
642
1
Nice specimen. I waited for a few years and got a similar one but with hex-paneled bowl, not so close to the Streamline-Moderne aesthetics mentioned. And flawless restoration of the ashtray-hammered pipe rim you achieved. :clap: It makes me want to get a lathe.
For loosen silver bands, I usually don't want it totally fixed because I don't think my alignment technique can be perfect, so instead of epoxy I used spit and pipe mud, and therefore they got loose again from time to time. I should have tried shellac.

 

kangaroo

New member
Apr 19, 2017
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Vietnam
Congrats to you and double congrats to the pipe that being in a right hand. Where did you get it? Al got the 1937 hallmark over my slept-over-sorry-ass on ebay :lol:, but i didn't see this one listed.

 

cigrmaster

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May 26, 2012
13,916
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Amazing work George. Do you guys who collect these hard to find GBD shapes do it because they are great smokers or because they are just so rare?

 
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