A Simple Restoration of a BBB “Natural Grain” # 11


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

My pipe cleaning factory back home is churning out pipes galore and these cleaned pipes once they reach me are being liked by people who see them and sales are also improving, though restricted only to local customer, yes, you read it right, without an ‘s’, as only one colleague has been motivated to take up enjoying a pipe!! I am sure more will follow. Those readers who have been following my work on rebornpipes.com are well aware that here in India, pipe smoking culture died its natural death in 1970’s when old pipe shops and tobacconists were pushed out of business by cigarette manufacturers and people got used to the convenience of a ready-to-smoke cigarette. And to add to our woes, there is a ban on importing tobacco!! Well, wish me luck that I am able to revive this culture back here again…

Well, the fourth pipe selected by my colleague from the heap of cleaned up pipes that Abha had sent me, is a well-made British pipe. It’s a classic straight Billiards with tapered stem BBB pipe in a smooth finish. It has nice Bird’s eye grain on either sides of the stummel with tightly packed cross grains to the front, back and on the shank. The pipe is stamped on the left of the shank as “BBB” in a diamond box, in block letters over “NATURAL GRAIN” split on either side of the diamond box. On the right of the shank, close to the bowl end it is stamped with the numeral “11” probably a shape code. The tapered vulcanite stem with an aluminum stinger has the trademark stamp of BBB in a diamond box. However, the stem logo is not a brass logo, pointing to the later/ newer era pipe. The COM stamp is conspicuous by its absence. The stampings are all crisp and prominent. Having a few BBB pipes in my personal collection that once belonged to my grandfather and having a few friends like Steve and Victor Naddeo who collect BBB pipes, the information readily available was sufficient to date this pipe. From discussions with these stalwarts and comparing it with BBBs from my inheritance, it is evident that this pipe is definitely from a newer era, probably 1980s, the dead giveaway being the lack of brass diamond roundel for the stem logo, presence of an aluminum stinger and the grading of Natural Grain!!

With this information, I move ahead with my initial visual inspection.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in a very decent state, to say the least. It was only smoked a couple of times and a thin even layer of cake build up is observed in the chamber. The rim top is covered in places with specs of overflow of lava. Otherwise, the rim top surface and both inner and outer rim edges are in pristine condition.The smooth stummel surface has beautiful Bird’s eye grain patterns on either sides of the stummel with beautiful densely packed cross grains on the front, back and the shank. The bottom surface of the stummel is flattened, making it a sitter. The stummel surface has a natural finish of the briar and the grains should pop out after a nice polish. The mortise with shank internals is relatively clean and the chamber is odorless. The draught hole is at the bottom center and should be a great smoker!! Reclaiming this piece of briar should be an easy chore. The tapered vulcanite stem is clean with very little signs of oxidation seen in the bite zone on either surfaces of the stem. The tenon end along with the detachable aluminum stinger is also clean. The slot does not show any signs of accumulated dried gunk. Air flow through the stem air way is full and free. A couple of pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol should freshen up the stem internals.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE……
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. A clean pipe also helps in clearly identifying the work that would be required to restore a pipe. The pictures shows the condition of the pipe when it reached me after being cleaned. The chamber is odorless and the walls are solid without any signs of damage. The smooth rim top surface and the inner and outer rim edge are in perfect condition. The mortise and shank internals are also nice and clean now. The seating of the stem tenon into the mortise is snug and sits flush with the shank end. I had noticed a darkened spot on the right side of the shank near and below the stamped numeral 11 (marked in yellow arrow). On close scrutiny, I feel that this spot is not a fill but a minor flaw in the briar since a gentle probing with a sharp dental tool revealed a solid surface. I have decided to let it be. The rest of the stummel surface is sans any fills or flaws. A nice polish and the beautiful grains will pop out and will be on display in all their glory. As the stamping suggests, this is a pipe with natural finish to the briar and I have no intentions to change this!!! I think as the pipe is smoked, over a period of time, the briar will take on some nice dark coloration and patina. I am really looking forward to see the stummel after polish. The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been removed, thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha. The slot and stem internals are all clean and fresh. The aluminum stinger too is nice and clean. A bit of sanding to remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. THE PROCESS
I start this restoration by sanding the entire stummel surface, including the rim top, with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helps in addressing all the minor dents, if any, from the surface while providing a smooth surface for the next stage which is polishing cycle using complete set of micromesh pads. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. I showed the stummel to the new owner and discussed if he wanted me to stain the stummel or preferred it the way it appeared at this stage. I took this opportunity to explain to him that the stummel would darken as he smoked taking on a beautiful dark patina with time and usage. He liked the pipe without stain and thankfully, that’s how it shall remain. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Now that the stummel was nearly complete, I turned my attention to the stem. Since there was no damage to the stem and Abha had done a wonderful job of removing the oxidation from the stem surface, I straight up proceed with sanding the stem surface using 400, 600, 800, 1000 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool and also sharpened the button edges while sanding. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 2400 girt micromesh pads. Continuing with my experimentations that I had spelled out in my previous posts, I mount a cotton buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and polish the stem with Red Rouge polish as I had read that this polish has grit between 2400 to 3200 grit pads of the micromesh pads. Further, I mount a fresh buffing wheel on the rotary tool and polish the stem with White Diamond polish as it has grit equivalent to 3800- 4000 of micromesh pads. I finish the stem polish by wet sanding with 6000 to 12000 grit pads of the micromesh. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem looks nice and shinning black. I am really happy with this process of stem polishing as the results are excellent while saving me huge amounts of time and effort. To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and is ready to be handed over to the new piper. Hope he enjoys his leisure time with this beautiful and gorgeous looking pipe, smoking his favorite tobacco!! P.S. This is the last of the four pipes that was selected by this gentleman to carry forward the trust posed in the pipe by the previous piper and I am sure that this pipe will provide the new piper many years of happy smokes and will remind him of our association. This was also the most difficult of all the four pipes to let go!! Such is the beauty of this pipe.

Thanks to all readers of Reborn pipes who have spared a moment of their invaluable time in reading through this write up and as is always, your suggestions and advice are always welcome as this would not only help me but also help the new pursuers of this art.

Advertisements

Restoring a “Malaga” Pencil Shank Cutty for Alex


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on a lot of different estate pipes and selling them for different families. Once in a while it is good to change things up a bit. Last week Alex came by and went through the Malaga pipes I have awaiting restoration. I have a box of pipes from Alex that I am always working away at he added a few more Malaga pipes to his box. There are quite a few of them to work on so I decided work on a few of them. The fourth of these was another Malaga pipe. It  is a beautiful pencil shank Cutty shaped with a long vulcanite stem. The smooth rim, tall narrow bowl, and thin shank combined with the stem make it a stunning pipe. It has mixed grain around the sides of the bowl and shank. The “Malaga” Cutty shaped was a pipe Jeff picked up from EBay that originally came from Michigan. We were both surprised that he picked it up as it is getting harder and harder to pick these up at a good price.

This long narrow shank Cutty is next on the table. The carver did a great job of shaping the pipe to follow the grain on the briar. The pipe was in very good condition when arrived. The rim top has a little lava and darkening but otherwise looked good. The bowl had a thin cake in it that was hard and dense. The exterior of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA” with the quotation marks and the right side read Imported Briar. The vulcanite stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some very light spots of lava and a little darkening on the back of the bowl. The edges of the bowl were not too bad. The inside edge was clean and the outside had a few small dents and nicks. Other than being so dirty that it was in great condition.He also took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank to show the beautiful mixed grain around the bowl. The photos show the general condition of the bowl and wear on the finish. It is dirty but this is another beautiful pipe. Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the top side of the shank. The photos show the stamping “MALAGA” on the left side of the shank and on the right it is stamped Imported Briar in caps. The stamping is very readable.The next two photos show the stem surface. There are light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the sharp edge of the button.If this is the first of the Malaga restorations that you have read about then you should know the backstory of the brand. I am including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/.That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

Jeff followed his regular regimen for cleaning estates. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the light lava build up on the rim top and you could see the darkening toward the back of the rim top. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the darkened area on the back of the rim top. The vulcanite stem had tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface.I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank to show the condition. The first one shows the “MALAGA” stamp on the left side of the shank. The second photo shows the stamping on the right side of the shank. It reads Imported Briar.I polished the rim top and the exterior of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad to remove the dust. Each grit of micromesh gave it more of a shine. I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for about 10 minutes then rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off with a soft cloth. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The stem was in excellent condition, without tooth chatter or tooth marks. It was well cut stem and had a great look and feel. It was lightly oxidized so it did not take a lot of work to bring back a shine. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. This is a beautiful Pencil Shank Malaga Cutty with a black vulcanite stem. It has a great look and feel. The thin shank flowing into a tall bowl works well to highlight the birdseye and cross grain around the bowl sides. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain took on life with the buffing. The rich oil cured colour works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the finished Malaga pipes that I have set aside for Alex. This will be a great addition to his collection of Malaga pipe. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another Malaga.

A Fresh Lease on Life for a Barling T.V.F # 911, Made in Denmark


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

My pipe cleaning factory back home is churning out pipes galore and these cleaned pipes once they reach me are being liked by people who see them and sales are also improving, though restricted only to local customer, yes, you read it right, without an ‘s’, as only one colleague has been motivated to take up enjoying a pipe!! I am sure more will follow. Those readers who have been following my work on rebornpipes.com are well aware that here in India, pipe smoking culture died its natural death in 1970’s when old pipe shops and tobacconists were pushed out of business by cigarette manufacturers and people got used to the convenience of a ready-to-smoke cigarette. And to add to our woes, there is a ban on importing tobacco!! Well, wish me luck that I am able to revive this culture back here again…

The next pipe that I decided to work on, well not exactly by choice but out of economic considerations, is a lovely Brandy bowl shaped Barling’s Make pipe in a smooth finish. Through all the dark hues of Oxblood (not sure its Oxblood or Cordovan, as I have used neither in person) and darkened lacquer coat, beautiful mixed grains can be seen all around the stummel. The pipe is stamped on the left of the shank as Barlingin cursive hand over “MAKE” over “INTERNATIONAL” in block letters. On the right of the shank, close to the shank end it is stamped as “T.V.F.” followed by the shape code (???) “# 911” over “MADE IN DENMARK”. The stampings are all crisp and prominent.I had previously worked on a couple of Barling pipes from my inherited pipe collection; here are the links to both the write up,  https://rebornpipes.com/2019/03/26/a-simple-restoration-of-an-early-transition-era-barling-2639/, https://rebornpipes.com/2018/12/10/decking-out-my-grandfathers-battered-pre-transition-barling-1354/   and had researched this brand then. To refresh my memory, I revisited the write ups and also pipedia.org. Here is an interesting excerpt from pipedia.org……

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barling

In the late 1970’s production of Barling pipes was shifted to Denmark where Eric Nording manufactured Barling pipes for Imperial. There may have been other factories, but as of this writing, none has been identified. Nording stated that he made approximately 100.000 pipes for Imperial.

Despite these attempts to diversify the line, Barling lost its market. These pipes just weren’t equivalent to the family era pipes. Finally, Imperial decided to close down the Barling operations entirely by 1980.

Thus from the above snippets of information, it is safely concluded that the pipe currently on my work table is from the period between late 1970’s to 1980 and most likely carved by master craftsman Eric Nording!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in a very sorry state, to say the least. It was heavily smoked and a thick layer of cake build up is observed in the chamber. The thin rim top is covered in the thick overflow of lava and is severely damaged due to the repeated hammering it must have received at the hands of the previous owner to remove the dottle. This will need to be worked on.The smooth stummel surface has beautiful grain patterns with a mix of Bird’s eye, cross grains and nice swirls. The stummel surface has a dark lacquer coat that has dulled a bit and appears lifeless due to accumulation of dust and dirt and peeling of the lacquer coating in patches. The mortise is clogged with accumulation of oils and tars making the draw laborious. The straight, broad vulcanite saddle stem is deeply oxidized with bite marks and tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. The insides of the slot and tenon have signs of accumulated gunk. The crossed Barling logo on the saddle top of the stem is crisp and deep.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…

The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

The chamber is odorless and the walls are solid without any signs of damage. The smooth and thin rim top surface is where all the action is on this pipe with an equally damaged inner and outer rim edge. The front and back of the outer rim edges and top surface has signs of charring. This should be addressed to some extent when I top the rim surface. The mortise and shank internals are nice and clean. Even though most of the lacquer coat was removed when the stummel was cleaned up by Abha, I could still see remnants of the peeling lacquer coat over some parts of the stummel. I shall have to remove this coat and thereafter decide on staining the stummel or otherwise. The stummel surface is sans any fills; however, the left side surface has some damage in the form of dents and dings, probably caused due rough handling of the pipe by the previous owner. The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been greatly reduced thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha, clearly defining the deeper bite marks and the damage to the button edges on both surfaces of the stem. These tooth marks would be required to be filled with a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. A bit of sanding to match the fill and remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem.THE PROCESS
The first issue I addressed was that of the stem repairs as this would take the maximum of my time to clean, repair and spruce up the stem. I flamed the damaged button edge and the tooth indentations with the flame of a lighter. This helps the vulcanite to rise to the surface as it has an inherent property to regain its original shape when heated. I sand the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to even out the raised stem surface and address the minor tooth chatter. I mixed superglue and activated charcoal powder and diligently applied it over the deeper tooth indentations in the bite zone on lower stem surface and over the button edge on the upper stem surface and set it aside to cure. With the stem fill set aside to cure, I decided to address the issues on the stummel surface. I start by steaming out the dents and dings from the left side of the stummel. I heated my fabricated knife over a candle flame till hot. I spread a wet Turkish hand towel over the dents and dings on the stummel and placed the heated knife over the hand towel. The resulting sizzle produces steam which in turn expands the briar and evens out the dents. The results are exactly as I wanted them to be.The next stummel issue to be addressed was that of the rim top surface damage. I topped the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently till I was satisfied that the charred surface was addressed to a great extent and the rim top surface is nice, smooth and even. The inner edge is still uneven, though much better than before topping, and shall be addressed subsequently.Close observation of the rim top surface revealed remnants of charred inner rim edge on the right side and below it on the same side, a briar flaw (all encircled in red). This flaw, when polished would stand out like a sore thumb and hence I decided to address this by topping the rim top further. A few careful rotations of the rim top on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and the issue of briar flaw was completely addressed and the charred inner rim edge was further reduced. The rim top looks significantly better at this stage. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I created a slight bevel on the inner edge of the rim top surface. This helped to mask and address the minor charred marks that had remained on the inner rim edge. Continuing with my work on the stummel, I sand the entire stummel surface with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helped to address all the minor dents from the surface and removed what little lacquer coating that had remained, while providing a smooth surface for the next stage of micromesh polishing cycle. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep dark shine and beautiful grains all around. I showed the stummel to the new owner and discussed if he wanted me to stain the stummel or preferred it the way it appeared at this stage. I took this opportunity to explain him that the stummel would darken further as I finished with the polishing regime. He liked the pipe without stain and that’s how it shall remain. As a result of all the topping and subsequent polishing, the rim top surface had a lighter hue as compared to the rest of the stummel surface. I matched the rim top surface with the rest of the stummel by staining the surface with a dark brown stain pen. I set it aside for the stain to cure and once I was satisfied, I wiped it with a microfiber cloth. The rim top is now perfectly matched with the rest of the stummel dark coloration. I am very pleased with the blend.Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Now that the stummel was nearly complete, I turned my attention to the stem repairs. The stem fills had cured completely by this time. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper, I sand down the fills to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stem surface. I followed it up by sanding it with 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to achieve a perfect blend of the fills with the rest of the stem surface, remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 2400 girt micromesh pads. Continuing with my experimentation that I had spelled out in my previous posts, I mount a cotton buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and polish the stem with Red Rouge polish as I had read that this polish has grit between 2400 to 3200 grit pads of the micromesh pads. Further, I mount a fresh buffing wheel on the rotary tool and polish the stem with White Diamond polish as it has grit equivalent to 3800- 4000 of micromesh pads. I finish the stem polish by wet sanding with 6000 to 12000 grit pads of the micromesh. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. I am really happy with this process of stem polishing as the results are excellent while saving me huge amounts of time and effort. The stem looks nice and shinning black, but there was something that I felt I had missed out. I realized that the stem logo is yet to be refreshed and highlighted. With a white fine tipped correction pen, I filled the crossed Barlings stamping and once it had dried a bit, with a toothpick, I scrapped off excess of the correction ink. The stamping is now completely refreshed and sits proudly on the top of the saddle.To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and is ready to be handed over to the new piper. Hope he enjoys his leisure time with this beautiful and gorgeous looking pipe, smoking his favorite tobacco!! P.S. This is the third pipe that was selected by this gentleman to carry forward the trust posed in the pipe by the previous piper and I am sure that this pipe will provide the new piper many years of happy smokes and will remind him of our association. There is one more pipe which he has selected that I need to work on before I can get back to my choice of pipes to work on!!

I can never thank Abha, my wife, enough who not only supports my hobby of pipe restoration, but actively helps in this work by doing all the dirty work of initial cleaning and providing me a clean platform to work further. It is her work that helps potential buyers to select a pipe for themselves.

Thanks to all readers of Reborn pipes who have spared a moment of their invaluable time in reading through this write up and as is always, your suggestions and advice on my experimentation is always welcome as this would also help the new pursuers of this art.

 

A Custom Carved Malaga Acorn from Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on a lot of different estate pipes and selling them for different families. Once in a while it is good to change things up a bit. Last week Alex came by and went through the Malaga pipes from George Koch’s estate. I have a box of pipes from Alex that I am always working away at he added a few more Malaga pipes to his box. There are quite a few of them to work on so I decided work on a few of them. The third of these Malaga pipes is a beautiful acorn shaped Custom Carved with a black acrylic fancy stem. It has a faux carved plateau rim top and shank end and combined with the stem make it a stunning pipe. It has some great cross grain on the front and back and birdseye on the sides of the bowl. The Custom Carved Acorn shaped pipe was just one of the many Malaga pipes that came to my brother and me in several shipments of pipes from George’s daughter Kathy. When Jeff got each box the pipes were well wrapped and packed. Jeff unwrapped them and took the following photo to give an idea of the volume of the pipes that we purchased. This Malaga came in mixed in a box of pipes much like the one below.In each of the previous blogs that I have written on the restoration of George’s pipes I have told his story. If you have followed the restorations you will have read the information and the background piece that Kathy did on her father. Here is a link to one of the previous blogs on his Malaga pipes where I included her tribute in full (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/26/back-to-kathys-dads-pipes-restoring-a-%c2%bc-bent-malaga-author/). You can also read the bio on her Dad, George Koch. It is an interesting read and one that shows just how far our pipe collecting passion can go when we find a brand of pipes that we enjoy. I am going to only include the portion on the Malagas at this point. If you wish to read the rest follow the link above.

Kathy writes…We lived in Livonia, and that’s where his love for Malaga pipes began. After a few years he returned to Allis Chalmers and we moved back to Springfield. I remember that when we went back to Michigan to visit friends, Dad had to go to the Malaga store and acquire a few new pipes. Many a year I wrote to Malaga and they picked out a pipe for me to purchase that I could give Dad for a Christmas or birthday present. He was always pleased. His favorites were the straight stemmed medium sized bowl pipes, but he liked them all. 

He had some other pipes, but the Malagas were his favorites. I remember him smoking them sitting in his easy chair after work, with feet up on the ledge by the fire burning in the fireplace.  Growing up it was my job to clean them and he liked the inner bowl and stem coated with Watkins vanilla, leaving a little of that liquid in the bowl to soak in when I put them back on the rack…I’m very happy they are being restored by you and your brother and hope they find homes who enjoy them as much as Dad did. Thank-you for your care and interest. — Kathy, the oldest daughter

The Malaga Custom Carved Acorn with the fancy turned black acrylic stem is next on the table. The carver did a great job of shaping the pipe to follow the grain on the briar. The faux plateau on the rim top and shank end looks really good. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed with lava onto the rim so that it was impossible to see if there was damage on the edges. The sides of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA” with the quotation marks over Custom Carved. The fancy black acrylic stem had tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some lava overflow in the grooves of the faux plateau and some darkening on the back of the bowl. It was so dirty that it was hard to know if there was rim damage on the inner edge of the bowl. The pipe is incredibly dirty, even the externals of the bowl were covered with grime. He also took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank to show the beautiful straight and cross grain around the bowl. The photos show the general condition of the bowl and wear on the finish. It is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe.He also took photos of the shank end and fancy stem. The plateau is filled in with dust and debris. The twin rings are also filled in with dust and debris.Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the top side of the shank. The photos show the stamping “MALAGA” on the left side of the shank and under that it is stamped Custom Carved in script. The stamping is very readable.The next two photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the sharp edge of the button.I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/.That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the damage to the flat surface of the rim and the inner edge on the back side and on the outer edge toward the front of the bowl. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the damaged areas on the surface clearly. The acrylic/Lucite stem had tooth chatter and some tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface.I took 2 photos of the stamping on the shank to show how good the condition is. The first one shows the “MALAGA” stamp. It is double stamped but is very legible on the topside. The second photo shows the second line of the stamp and reads Custom Carved in script.I decided to address the rim top first. I scrubbed the rim top with a brass bristle brush to clean off some of the darkening and minimize the damage on surface of the rim top. The damage to the rim top is minimized to some degree and the inner edge looks far better. The damage to the rim looks much better than when I began.I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for about 10 minutes then rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off with a soft cloth. I filled in the deep nicks on the right side of the bowl. I sanded the fills with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repaired areas. I used a Maple stain pen to touch up the stain colour on the remainder of the bowl.I polished the rim top and the exterior of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad to remove the dust. Each grit of micromesh gave it more of a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. It took some time to really get it into the grooves and valleys of the rusticated faux plateau on the rim top and shank end. I worked in deeper with a horsehair shoebrush. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The reworked bowl looks really good and matches the colour of the rest of the pipe. I am very happy with the results. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. There were some deep tooth marks on the top and underside at the button that needed to be addressed. I also needed to do some work on the surface of the button on both sides. I cleaned the surface of the stem with alcohol on a cotton pad and filled in the damaged areas and built up the surface of the button with clear super glue. I set the stem aside until the repairs cured. Once the glue had cured I used a needle file to reshape the button and flatten out the repairs. The stem looked much better.I sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter and the repair into the surface of the stem. As I sanded and reshaped the button and stem surface the repaired areas and the tooth chatter disappeared.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. This is a beautiful Malaga Freehand Acorn with a black fancy turned acrylic stem. It has a great look and feel. The faux plateau rim top and shank end and the cut of the briar work well to highlight the birdseye and cross grain around the bowl sides. I polished Lucite stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain took on life with the buffing. The rich oil cured colour works well with the polished black Lucite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the finished Malaga pipes that I have set aside for Alex. I am glad that he is carrying on the trust for George Koch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another one of Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes.

Emergency Repair for a Friend – Repairing a Broken Shank on a Thompson Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

Probably some time early in the past year Al purchased this pipe from Jeff and me. It quickly became his favourite pipe and he enjoyed smoking it. He wrote me a quick email a few weeks ago which I include here

Steve, I purchased a Thompson Freehand in red stain some time ago. It has become my most favorite pipe. However, the pipe suffered catastrophic damage as the stem broke cleanly at the base of the bowl, the result of a slip of the grip while at the buffing wheel despite my vise like grip.

I’ve included a photo of my favorite pipe in hopes that you can perform a miracle of craftsmanship.

Help me Steve, you’re my only hope!

Sincerely, Al — newly retired and heartbroken…He had cleaned it and was buffing it and the pipe got away from him (pipe restorer’s and repairman’s nightmare). It hit the floor or wall or something hard anyway and the shank snapped off at the bowl. It was a clean break and looked repairable. It arrived on Tuesday this week. I opened the box and I found the stem and shank carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and tissue and the bowl separately wrapped the same way. Both had been packed in a pipe box and carefully cushioned with paper and bubble wrap in a larger box. I always wonder what the Customs Inspectors must think when they open these carefully wrapped packages and find a broken, used tobacco pipe. They must shake their heads in disbelief that such care would go into packing such “debris”. I took the pipe from the boxes, unwrapped it and took the following photo. The shank was indeed snapped at the bowl and the stem was still in the shank!I took the stem off the shank and checked the fit. It was a pretty clean break – just a few small piece of briar chipped and missing. I went through my collection of tubes and found one that was close to the length I needed and was a perfect fit in the airway in the two sections. I roughed up the tubing with a file to give the glue a good surface to bind with. I coated the end of the tube that fit in the shank portion with a two part epoxy and put it in place in the shank. Once the glue had hardened I could adjust the length of the tube however much I needed on a topping board of with the Dremel and sanding drum.Once the glue cured and I had adjusted the length of the tube I spread the epoxy on the tube and on the surfaces of the snapped briar and pressed them together. I used an epoxy that hardened fairly quickly so I adjusted the fit and pressed the two parts together and held them until the glue had hardened. Once the repair had cured I took pictures of the repaired pipe. You can still see the cracked area on the right and underside of the bowl but the fit is quite tight. I needed to do a bit more work on those areas to get a good blend to the repair. I used my Dremel and a steel burr to replicate the rustication pattern around the bowl. I set the Dremel as the lowest speed and worked the burr to connect both vertical and horizontal patterns. It blended well. The first set of 3 photos shows the cut patterns and the second set of 3 shows the finished carving. I used a Black Sharpie and a Red Sharpie pen to stain the freshly carved rustication. The black went into the carving while the red was applied to the high spots. I covered the whole repaired area with some Mahogany stain to blend the colours into the rest of the finish. I gave the repaired area a coat of Danish Oil and Cherry stain to give it a shine that would match the shine on the rest of the bowl. I set it aside to dry.Once the Danish Oil coat had dried I lightly buffed the pipe with microfibre cloth to polish the repaired area. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I am happy with the repair and the finishing on the shank. The repair blends in very well. It is ready to send it back to Al. I will get it packed up and get it in the mail. I hope that he continues to enjoy this beauty. Thanks for following the blog and reading about the repair. Cheers.

Read a Scientific Analysis of Smoking Pipes by Francis P. Ellsworth


A few years back a faithful reader and friend in Newfoundland sent me an Ellsworth Rotobowl pipe as a gift. He had picked up several of them that were unsmoked and knew my love the old smoking oddities that are part of the perpetual hunt for the perfect smoke. He immediately packed one up and sent it my way. I wrote a blog about the pipe and today it still is unsmoked as I am having a hard time smoking this unique old pipe. Here is the link to that blog if you want to have a look a the pipe – https://rebornpipes.com/2016/03/15/gift-from-a-friend-in-newfoundland-rare-unique-unsmoked-ellsworth-roto-bowl/.

Then yesterday I received an mail through the blog from a reader, John S. who wrote me as follows:

Hello again, it’s been awhile. I just won an EBay auction for an Ellsworth Rotobowl with the original pamphlet. While looking for information on the pipe, your page came up 🙂

I was wondering if you would be interested in some pics of the “missing pages” of the pamphlet? If so let me know, and I will send you some pics.

I wrote John immediately and in short order he had photographed the pamphlet page by page and sent me the pics. I thought I would share them here so that any interested readers who either have a Rotobowl or are thinking about one have this information at their fingertips. Thanks for thinking of us John. Much appreciated. — Steve

A Long Stem Malaga Canadian from Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on a lot of different estate pipes and selling them for different families. Once in a while it is good to change things up a bit. Last week Alex came by and went through the Malaga pipes from George Koch’s estate. I have a box of pipes from Alex that I am always working away at he added a few more Malaga pipes to his box. There are quite a few of them to work on so I decided work on a few of them. The second of these Malaga pipes is a beautiful long stemmed, nicely grained Canadian with a variegated brown, gold and copper Lucite stem. It has a slightly beveled rim top tipping inward toward the bowl and the grain combined with the stem make it a stunning pipe. The carver had carved a flourish on the back side of the bowl wrapping around part of the left side. Otherwise it has some great cross grain on the front and back and birdseye on the sides of the bowl. The Canadian shaped pipe was just one of the many Malaga pipes that came to my brother and me in several shipments of pipes from George’s daughter Kathy. When Jeff got each box the pipes were well wrapped and packed. Jeff unwrapped them and took the following photo to give an idea of the volume of the pipes that we purchased. This Malaga came in mixed in a box of pipes much like the one below.In each of the previous blogs that I have written on the restoration of George’s pipes I have told his story. If you have followed the restorations you will have read the information and the background piece that Kathy did on her father. Here is a link to one of the previous blogs on his Malaga pipes where I included her tribute in full (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/26/back-to-kathys-dads-pipes-restoring-a-%c2%bc-bent-malaga-author/). You can also read the bio on her Dad, George Koch. It is an interesting read and one that shows just how far our pipe collecting passion can go when we find a brand of pipes that we enjoy. I am going to only include the portion on the Malagas at this point. If you wish to read the rest follow the link above.

Kathy writes…We lived in Livonia, and that’s where his love for Malaga pipes began. After a few years he returned to Allis Chalmers and we moved back to Springfield. I remember that when we went back to Michigan to visit friends, Dad had to go to the Malaga store and acquire a few new pipes. Many a year I wrote to Malaga and they picked out a pipe for me to purchase that I could give Dad for a Christmas or birthday present. He was always pleased. His favorites were the straight stemmed medium sized bowl pipes, but he liked them all. 

He had some other pipes, but the Malagas were his favorites. I remember him smoking them sitting in his easy chair after work, with feet up on the ledge by the fire burning in the fireplace.  Growing up it was my job to clean them and he liked the inner bowl and stem coated with Watkins vanilla, leaving a little of that liquid in the bowl to soak in when I put them back on the rack…I’m very happy they are being restored by you and your brother and hope they find homes who enjoy them as much as Dad did. Thank-you for your care and interest. — Kathy, the oldest daughter

The Malaga Canadian with the variegated brown/gold/copper acrylic stem is next on the table. The carver did a great job of shaping the pipe to follow the grain on the briar. The added flourish to the back of the bowl curling onto the left side looks really good. The rim top is smooth and slightly beveled inward. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed with lava onto the rim so that it was impossible to see if there was damage on the edges. The sides of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the topside of the shank read MALAGA without the quotation marks. On the right side it was stamped Imported Briar. The swirled acrylic stem had tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some lava overflow and some darkening. It was so dirty that it was hard to know if there was rim damage on the inner edge of the bowl. The pipe is incredibly dirty, even the externals of the bowl were covered with grime. He also took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank to show the beautiful straight and cross grain around the bowl. The photos show the general condition of the bowl and wear on the finish. It is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe.Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the top side of the shank. The photos show the stamping MALAGA on the topside of the shank. The stamping is very readable.The next two photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the sharp edge of the button.I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/.That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the damage to the flat surface of the rim and the inner edge on the back side and on the outer edge toward the front of the bowl. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the damaged areas on the surface clearly. There are damaged spots all around the top surface and on the front and the backside of the inner edge of the bowl. The acrylic/Lucite stem had tooth chatter and some tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank to show how good the condition is. The MALAGA stamp is very legible on the topside.I decided to address the damage to the rim top first. I sanded the rim top with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper minimize the damage on surface of the rim top. I worked over the inner and outer edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage. The photos tell the story. The damage to the rim top is minimized to some degree and the inner edge looks far better. The damage to the outer edge looks much better than when I began.With sanding on the rim top and edges I did a thorough clean the insides once again. I did not want any of the sanding dust or debris to remain in the bowl or shank or the airway in the stem. I used alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to clean up the mess I had made. I used an awl to make sure the airway into the bowl was wide open for maximum draw. I polished the rim top and the exterior of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad to remove the dust. The damage on the rim is pretty much invisible after polishing and the rim top really looked good. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. It took some time to really get it into the grooves and valleys of the rustication but I was able to work it in. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The reworked rim top looks really good and matches the colour of the rest of the pipe. I am very happy with the results. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. There were some tooth marks on the top and underside at the button that needed to be addressed. I also needed to do some work on the surface of the button on both sides. I cleaned the surface of the stem with alcohol on a cotton pad and filled in the damaged areas and built up the surface of the button with clear super glue. I set the stem aside until the repairs cured.I sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter and the repair into the surface of the stem. As I sanded and reshaped the button and stem surface the repaired areas and the tooth chatter disappeared.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. This is a beautiful Malaga long stem Canadian and the brown/gold/copper stem gives it a nice touch of class. The rim top and the cut of the briar work well to highlight the birdseye and cross grain around the bowl sides. I polished Lucite stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain took on life with the buffing. The rich oil cured colour works well with the polished variegated Lucite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the finished Malaga pipes that I have finished for Alex. I am glad that he is carrying on the trust for George Koch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another one of Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes.