Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table is also from George Koch’s estate. It is another one of George’s Malaga pipes – a ¼ bent Author with an acrylic stem. The pipe was one of many 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. The next 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. It has been awhile since I worked on one of his pipes so I want to remind you of his story. To me it is important to keep the story attached to the pipes that came from his collection. Each pipe I work on I remind myself of the man and in the work give a remembrance to the pipeman who owned these pipes. Having held a large number of his pipes in my hand and having a pretty good feel for the shapes, colour and stems that he liked, I can almost imagine George picking out each pipe in his collection at the Malaga shop in Michigan. I am including Kathy’s brief bio of her father and 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
Thank you Kathy for providing this beautiful tribute to your Dad. Jeff and I appreciate your trust in allowing us to clean and restore these pipes. We are 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 is a nicely shaped Malaga ¼ Bent Author with a variegated grey and black acrylic stem. It has beautiful grain all around the bowl – flame grain around the bowl and birdseye grain on the bottom of the bowl and shank that is highlighted by the natural oil finish on the pipe. It is a well-shaped pipe following the pattern of the grain.The top of the bowl has some damage on the top and inner and outer edges. The bowl had a very thick cake and cobwebs in the bowl. There was an overflow of lava onto the thin rim top. The stamping on the top left side of the shank read “MALAGA”. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Imported Briar (upside down). The grey and black swirled, pearlized 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 a close up photo of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some lava overflow and some darkening. There appeared to be some rim damage on the inner edge the right side of the bowl. You can see the wear on the rim top, the cake and cobwebs in the bowl. The pipe is dirty but in good condition. He also took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank from the side to show the grain. The finish is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe. Jeff took some photos to capture the stamping on the top left side of the diamond shank. The photo shows stamping “MALAGA”. The stamping does not have the quotation marks that I have seen on some of the pipes. 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.Jeff has picked up quite pipes of this brand over the past year along with the ones from Kathy’s Dad’s estate. All of the pipes were made by the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. The more I work on the brand the more I am impressed by the quality of the craftsmanship and beauty of the pipes that came from the shop. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand if you are interested: 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 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 rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The rim was thoroughly cleaned and the damage was very clear. Without the grime the finish looked really good. The bowl looked very clean and was unchecked or damaged. The acrylic stem would need to be worked on but I really liked the 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. 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 inner edge of the bowl. The acrylic/Lucite stem had tooth chatter and some tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem just ahead of the button. I took some photos of the stamping on the shank to show the condition but to also show the upside Imported Briar stamping on the right side.I decided to address the damage to the rim top first. I worked over the thin rim top and the inner and outer edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and followed that by sanding it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the rim top and the rest of the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl and rim off after each sanding pad to remove the dust. The rim really shone once it was polished. 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. The rim matches well but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. 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 sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter into the surface of the stem. When it was sanded it was smooth and the marks were gone. I used several round and oval needle files to open up the round airway in the end of the button and give shape to a slot. 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 polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish and wiped it down with a last coat of Obsidian Oil. 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 straight, flame and birdseye grain really came with the buffing. The rich oil cured colour works well with the polished variegated grey/black acrylic stem. Together the pipe looks much better than when I began and has a rich look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I will be putting this newly finished Malaga pipe on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection and carrying on the trust. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another one of Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes.