Blog by Steve Laug
Some of you will remember the box of pipes that I received from George Koch’s estate from his daughter Kathy. There are many pipes to go through but with this blog I worked on another of the pipes from the estate. It has been a while since I have worked on them so I thought a reminder was in order about the estate. In the fall of 2017 I received a contact email on rebornpipes from Kathy asking if I would be interested in purchasing her late Father, George Koch’s estate pipes. He was a pipeman who had many “Malaga” and other brands of pipes and she was tasked with moving them out as she cleaned up the estate. We emailed back and forth and I had my brother Jeff follow up with her as he also lives in the US and would make it simpler to carry out this transaction. The long and short of it is that we purchased her Dad’s pipes – all of them (I am not even sure of the numbers at this point as they came in three installments). There are some beautiful pipes in that lot. Their condition varied from pristine to gnawed and damaged stems that will need to be replaced. These were some well used and obviously well-loved pipes. Cleaning and restoring them would be a tribute to this pipeman. I have told the story of George Koch in previous blogs about these pipes but I think it is important to keep the story attached to the pipes that came from his collection. It gives a remembrance to the man as I work on his pipes. I can almost imagine George picking out each pipe in his collection (both Malaga and otherwise) at the Malaga shop in Michigan. Kathy graciously wrote a brief bio of her father and sent it along with a photo of her Dad enjoying his “Malagas”. Here is George’s bio written by his daughter.
Dad was born in 1926 and lived almost all his life in Springfield, Illinois. He was the youngest son of German immigrants and started grade school knowing no English. His father was a coal miner who died when Dad was about seven and his sixteen year old brother quit school to go to work to support the family. There was not much money, but that doesn’t ruin a good childhood, and dad had a good one, working many odd jobs, as a newspaper carrier, at a dairy, and at the newspaper printing press among others.
He learned to fly even before he got his automobile driver’s license and carried his love of flying with him through life, recertifying his license in retirement and getting his instrumental license in his seventies and flying until he was grounded by the FAA in his early eighties due to their strict health requirements. (He was never happy with them about that.) He was in the Army Air Corps during World War II, trained to be a bomber, but the war ended before he was sent overseas. He ended service with them as a photographer and then earned his engineering degree from University of Illinois. He worked for Allis Chalmers manufacturing in Springfield until the early sixties, when he took a job at Massey Ferguson in Detroit, Michigan.
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. Dad quit smoking later in life and so they’ve sat on the racks for many years unattended, a part of his area by his easy chair and fireplace. Dad passed when he was 89 years old and it finally is time for the pipes to move on. 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
Kathy, once again I thank you for providing this beautiful tribute to your Dad. We will appreciate your trust in allowing us to clean and restore these pipes. I am also trusting that those of you who are reading this might carry on the legacy of her Dad’s pipes as they will be added to the rebornpipes store once they are finished.
The next the pipe that I chose to work on is not a “Malaga” but a well-made Genod Bent Billiard with an acrylic stem. It has beautiful grain all around the bowl – straight, flame and birdseye. The top of the bowl is in good condition with nice grain. It has a small fill on the outer edge of the right side of the rim top. The stamping on the left side of the shank read GENOD over St. Claude, France. On the left side it reads Santa Mauro. On the underside of the shank it is stamped 909 or 606 and it is hard to tell which is right side up. The brown, swirled, pearlized Lucite stem had light tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. The interior of the pipe was dirty. I think that George had not smoked this one much. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before he started to work his magic on it. The exterior of the bowl and shank were dirty. You can see the wear on the rim top, the light lava on the surface and the cake and remnants of tobacco in the bowl. There also appears to be a small fill on the rim top on the right side. The pipe is dirty but in good condition. He took a photo of the side of the bowl and shank from the side to show the grain on this pipe. The left side was covered in beautiful birdseye. It is a beautiful pipe. Jeff took some photos to capture the stamping on the right and left side of the shank. The first photo shows the right side of the shank with the stamping Santa Mauro and the second shows the Genod brand name over Saint-Claude, France. There is also a G stamped on the acrylic stem.The next two photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. On the second photo below shows the tooth chatter and some faint marks.Jeff cleaned this one up before he sent it my way. He is really good at the cleanup work. He had 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 bowl, plateau rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The rim was thoroughly cleaned and the finish looked good. Without the grime the finish looked really good. The Lucite stem would need to be worked on but I really like the thin profile it cast. 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. The top was in excellent condition and Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils. There was one small fill on the right topside of the bowl. He had scrubbed the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap and it looked really good. The acrylic/Lucite stem had tooth chatter and some light tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem just ahead of the button.I looked up some information on the brand on the Pipephil website to get a quick overview of the history (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-g2.html). I did a screen capture of the listing for the brand. There was also a link to a well written historical timeline of the brand. You can read it at this link (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/infos/genod-en.html).Pipedia gives further history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Genod). The information is helpful and gives a sense of the history of the brand in St. Claude region of France. With the background information in hand I turned to the restoration of the pipe.
I removed the stem from the shank and there was a small stinger in the tenon. It was pressure fit and I was able to wiggle it free. I have found that these stingers really constrict the draught of the pipe. I ran some pipe cleaners and alcohol through the airway in the stem to remove any grime that was behind the stinger. I wrapped some 220 grit sandpaper around a piece of dowel to sand out the walls of the bowl. I ran pipe cleaners through the airway and a qtip through the mortise and the pipe was clean. I wiped off the dust from the bowl surface and took some photos of the pipe at this point in the process (but evidently not off my fingers as the photos show). The finish is decent. There was some wear around the right side of the top of the rim and there was a knife mark on the left of the bowl toward the front. I repaired the knife cut in the left front of the bowl with clear super glue. I pressed it into the cut mark. Once it cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and smoothed it out with 1500 grit sandpaper.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the briar with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and repeated the wipe down to leave the briar clean. I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. There were some tooth marks and chatter on the top and more chatter and a deeper tooth mark on the underside of the acrylic stem at the button. I cleaned off the surface of the stem with alcohol and filled in the deep tooth mark with clear super glue. Once it cured, I sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter and the repair into the surface of the stem. It did not take too much sanding to remove the marks and smooth out the stem surface. When it was sanded it was smooth and the marks were gone. I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and 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. This turned out to be a beautiful pipe in terms of shape and finish. This is the twelfth pipe that I am restoring from Kathy’s Dad’s collection. I am looking forward once again to hearing what Kathy thinks once she sees the finished pipe on the blog. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this Genod from George’s estate. More will follow in a variety of brands, shapes and sizes. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly so if you are interested in adding it to your collection and carrying on the trust from her father send me an email or a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.