Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe in the queue is another interesting pipe from the Michigan lot – a Twisted Billiard with a twist going from the rim to the button. It is a totally unique pipe and different from any of the other Malaga pipes that I have worked on. It is not a large pipe – probably a Group 4 sized bowl. The twist is carved in around what appears to have been originally a panel bowl but I am not even sure of that as it has a round rim top. The finish is smooth and well finished in the oil cured style of other pipes from the brand. On the underside is a small flat panel running parallel to the shank that is stamped “MALAGA” with the quotation marks. The stem is vulcanite and carries on the twist of the shank and bowl. This is another nice looking piece much like the rest of those in this 21 pipe Michigan pipe lot. This Malaga joins the rusticated billiard that I worked on earlier and a freehand that also has a very interesting Malaga shape. The Malaga I am working on now is on the mat in front of the rack. It is the third pipe on the left and I have circled it in red to make it easy to identify. Jeff took some photos of the pipe when he received them to show the general condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Like the rest of the pipes from the Michigan collection this pipe was dirty and well used. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflowing onto the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl was damaged with nicks and cuts from a previous reaming job with a knife. The twisted carving in the bowl sides and shanks fit comfortably in the hand as it was wrapped around the bowl sides. The carving on the bowl, shank and stem make the pipe very interesting. It is another pipe that is unlike any of the Malaga pipes that I have worked on. It is grooves/twists are quite deep and are parallel on the right and left side and the front and the back. The vulcanite stem is carved in the same manner as the bowl and carries on the twist. There are deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button edge and some wear on the button edge itself. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the carved twisted billiard. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had a thick lava overflow and some darkening. There were some nicks and cuts around the rim. There also appeared to be a burn mark on the right inner edge of the rim at mid bowl and possibly on the left inner edge toward the read of the bowl . There is also a general accumulation of dust and grime in the carving of the bowl and shank.He also took photo of the right side and the bottom of the bowl and shank to show the interesting twisted carving that covers the pipe. The carving is unique and gives the pipe a rugged and tactile look and feel in the hand. It should be interesting as the pipe warms up when smoked. The finish is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe. Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the underside of the shank. The photo shows stamping “MALAGA”. The stamping has the quotation marks that I have seen on some of the pipes. I have yet to figure out what the quotation marks mean as they are not on all of the pipes. Perhaps some of you might know. How about a note about this?The next three photos show the stem surface. The first shows the twist in the stem flowing out of the shank. There is some light oxidation on the stem surface. The next two show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There are also some marks on the sharp edge of the button. The surface of the blade in front of the button also has some scratches from whoever attempted to clean it up. Once again 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. 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 right side and 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 a close up photo of the rim top to show the darkening on the surface of the rim toward the back of the bowl. There were also some burn marks on the right side toward the middle and the ledge side toward the rear of the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl had some damage from burns and reaming but the outside edge looks really good. The stem photos show the tooth marks and the wear on the button surface on both sides. The final close up photos shows the “MALAGA” stamping on the underside of the shank.To remove the damage to the top of the rim I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked on it to remove the burned areas and the damage to the inner edge of the rim as much as possible. I am happy with how it turned out.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inner edge of the round rim top. I was able to remove the majority of the damage, leaving behind a dark spot on the right side of the rim top at the inner edge. I wiped the rim top down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I polished the bowl and the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cloth. I touched up the stain on the rim with a Maple stain pen and blended it into the grain. Once it dried I buffed it with Blue Diamond to spread it out. With the rim top and bowl polished, 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 following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the darkening and lava are gone. The finish looks very good with the swirling carving on the sides of the bowl and shank. The Maple stain on the rim matched the rest of the bowl perfectly. I am very happy with the results. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned out the tooth marks on both sides of the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol. Once the repairs had cured I used a needle file to flatten out the repaired areas. I filed it until the patches were smooth with the surface of the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I polished 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 contrasting grain came alive with the buffing. The rich browns work 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: 6 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/16 of an inch. This pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this twisted Malaga billiard.