Daily Archives: February 8, 2019

A Hard Ridden “Malaga” Billiard Made New


Blog by Steve Laug

I have mentioned several times in the blogs I have done on the Malaga pipes that I have restored for Alex that he is now collecting them in a focused manner. He has found some beautiful pieces that come from 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. If the pipes Alex has found have been beautiful, this one was not! It was a bleached and varnished mess. The stem did not fit in the shank and the feel of the pipe when I ran my fingers over it was ridged and bubbled. It was a strange feeling pipe. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with “MALAGA” and on the heel of the bowl with a 0. I have not seen the 0 stamp before so I am unclear of the meaning. All I know is that this pipe was going to be a hard one to make beautiful again. Here are some photos of it before I started. The varnish coat had protected the bowl from scratches and dents but it was rough feeling with its ridges – almost like it had been painted on with a brush. The rim top was dirty with some darkening around the surface and the inner edges of the bowl. The outer edge was clean. The bowl had a thick cake. The finish had some dark stains along the left side of the shank around the Malaga stamping. There were also some stains on the underside of the shank. It really was an odd pipe in many ways. The stem was quite oxidized and there were deep tooth marks on both sides near the button. The button surface was also marked. The stem did not seat in the shank. That led me to believe that the shank was lined with tars and oils.The stamping was hard to capture because of the painted on varnish but is clear and readable. It is stamped “MALAGA” on the left side. The 0 on the heel of the bowl is very clear.The varnish coat was so hard and impervious I decided to throw the bowl into an alcohol bath to soak overnight. I did not think it would work but thought it was worth a try. I closed up the container and called it a night.In the morning I removed the bowl from the bath. It had not done any damage to the thick coat of varnish or whatever… it was a hopeless endeavour so I decided to wait and deal with it later. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer using three of the four cutting heads. I took the cake back to bare briar. I followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to scrape away the remnants of cake and clean up the walls of the bowl. I finished the reaming with a piece of dowel wrapped in 220 grit sandpaper and sanded the walls of the bowl. To remove the damage to the rim and the varnish coat I used a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and worked the rim against the surface of the board in a circular motion to remove the damage. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the rim and to remove the darkening present there. I decided to go back to stripping off the painted coat on the bowl. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to break the shiny surface of the topping. I wiped it down with acetone on a cotton pad and sanded more and repeated the process until the finish was gone. With the varnish/plastic coat removed I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads.  Wet sanded with 1500-24000 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pipes. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding dust. The colour of the briar was uneven and the area around the stamping had some dark streaks that I could not remove. I worked on them with a corner of micromesh but I was thinking I would need to stain the bowl to take care of the issues. Before I went that far I decided to rub the bowl down with some Before & After Restoration Balm. I rubbed it into the briar and buffed it to see what showed up. I like the grain but I wanted to go for a darker brown to cover the stains on the shank. I was not happy with the overall look yet but decided to clean out the shank and the mortise. I scraped the mortise walls with a dental spatula to loosen the build up in the shank. I used cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove the tars and oils that had built up in the  shank and kept the stem from seating against the shank end.  With the inside and outside clean it was time to stain the bowl. I heated the briar and then applied some Fiebing’s Light Brown stain to the briar. I flamed it and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl.I let the stain cure for several hours and worked on another pipe. Once the stain had set I wiped it down with isopropyl alcohol on cotton pads to remove the excess and make the stain more transparent. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I worked some Restoration Balm into the newly stained surface of the briar and it came alive. The following photos show the new look of the pipe. I buffed the pipe on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond polish. It removed a little more of the darker stain and the grain really began to shine through more clearly. I set the bowl aside and addressed the issues with the stem. I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove as much of the oxidation as I could. I wiped down the surface of the stem with a damp cloth and cleaned out the tooth marks with cotton swabs. I filled in the tooth marks with black super glue and laid the stem aside to let the repairs cure. I turned to work on another pipe while the repair cured.Once the repairs had hardened and cured I used a needle file to sharpen the edge of the button and smooth out the repair on the stem. I sanded the stem repairs with 220 and 400 grit sand paper to blend the repair into the surface of the stem. It took a lot of sanding to smooth it out but the finished product looked a lot better than when I started. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then cleaned the airway in the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I was quite surprised by the lack of debris and grime in the airway.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – Fine and Extra Fine. When I had finished it I wiped it down a final time and set it aside to dry. This Malaga Billiard came alive with the buffing. I polished the bowl and the stem 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 various styles of grain shining through the finish on the bowl. The rich contrasting brown colour works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inch. I will be putting this I have a few more of Alex’s pipes to finish then this one will be heading back to him. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of the new look Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this Malaga.

 

New Life for a Hand Made Radice Rind GT Panel


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is another relatively new acquisition from a collection Jeff and I purchased from Michigan. It included a pipe cabinet and 21 pipes that is pictured below. There were some nice pipes in that collection and some that I have never seen before.In looking over the pipes in the collection the next pipe I chose to work on an interesting large Paneled pipe. I don’t know what to call the shape – a Panel Canadian with a saddle stem? It has an oval shank but a slight saddle stem. The band is for bling and not for repair and the stem is a swirled or marbled Lucite. The rustication on the bowl is almost sandblast like and quite nice. The grain shows through the blast and the contrast of brown colours is quite stunning. It is shown in the photo of the rack above – it is identified at the bottom of the rack by the red border around it. The pipe is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside. It reads Radice over Rind with a subscript GT after Rind. Next to that it is stamped Hand Made in Italy. It was quite dirty, like the rest of the pipes in this collection. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy lava overflow on the rim top. The inner and outer edges of the bowl looked very good. The stem had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button and some tooth damage to the sharp edge and top of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup process. The next photo is a close up of the bowl. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the side and bottom of the bowl to highlight the condition of the pipe and the beauty of the rustication and finishing. It was a dirty pipe and obviously it was someone’s favourite pipe because it is so dirty and caked. The next photo shows the stamping on the underside of the shank. You can also see some grim and dirt in the letter G of the GT stamp. I wondered if it was a crack when I saw it. Once the pipe was cleaned up I would know better. The close up photos of the stem show the tooth marks in the surface near the button and the damage to the button itself on both sides.If you have been a reader of the blog for a long time or maybe even a short time you probably could write the next part of this restoration. Jeff and I follow a pattern that rarely changes in the cleanup of pipes we work on. I include it here for new readers so that you can have a sense of that pattern. 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 slight darkening at the back of the rim. 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 and all that remained was some darkening toward back of the rim top and some deep lava in the rustication at the back of the rim. The Lucite stem had tooth chatter and some tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface. The tooth marks are quite prominent and will need to be addressed on both the stem surface and button but otherwise the stem looked very good. The swirled grey Lucite looked good with the band and the variegated browns of the briar.After the cleanup, the darkening around the G of the GT stamp on the underside of the shank looked better. I probed it with a dental pick and the area is solid. That was good news to me.I remembered that Radice, the carver had started with Castello but could remember little else about the brand or the carver. I turned to Pipedia to refresh my memory of the brand and get some feel for the pipe I was working on (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Radice). I quote from there showing the connection not only to Castello but to Ascorti and Caminetto pipes.

Luigi Radice, born 1939, took a piece of briar in his hands for the first time in 1961, when he was employed at Carlo Scotti’s Castello in nearby Cantu.

After lengthy experience, he founded, together with Peppino Ascorti, the famous “Pipa del Baffo”, the “Caminetto” which through 1974 and 1975 made wealth with the precious cooperation of Gianni Davoli, Milanese distributor.

In 1980 Luigi undertook a new adventure, founding his own brand: the Pipa Radice. From the beginning his son, Gianluca, joined the workshop, together with Luigi’s father, Paolo Radice, who helped in some basic steps of production.

With that reminder of the maker and the brand I turned my attention to the pipe. I decided to start with the bowl as it was already so clean and the work would be minimal. I worked over the rim top with a brass bristle wire brush to clean out the remaining lava and to remove the darkening at the back of the rim. It had appeared that it was surface and the brush proved that to be true. The rim top looked really good once I had finished. Once the rim top was clean, I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the rusticated 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 worked it in with a shoe brush. 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 rim top looks really good and the darkening and lava are gone. I am very happy with the results. I set aside the bowl at this point and turned my attention to the stem. I reshaped the button surface and edges with 220 grit sandpaper. I also sanded out much of the tooth chatter. All that remained of the damage were three tooth marks (two on the underside and one on the topside) and some damage to the edge of the button. I repaired the damaged areas on the edge of the button and filled in the tooth marks with clear super glue. Once the glue cured I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the rest of the stem surface. I polished the sanding marks with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The photos tell the story. I polished the Lucite 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 a last time with the damp cloth. This large, panel Radice Canadian is a real beauty. I polished stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 multi-coloured grain shining through the rustication came alive with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown colour works well with the polished swirling grey Lucite stem. The finished pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. I will be putting this Radice on the rebornpipes online store soon. It may well the kind of large, tactile pipe you have been looking for so have a look. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this interestingly shaped Radice.