Daily Archives: April 7, 2019

Rebirthing a “Malaga” Large Chubby Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is from the batch of pipes I am cleaning up for Alex – this one is a “Malaga” large, chubby Billiard with some heft and some beautiful grain around the oil cured bowl and shank. The entire pipe has some beautiful birdseye grain around the bowl and cross grain on the front and back of the bowl. The pipe has not been stained but sports the usual Malaga oil cured look. The carver did a great job utilizing the block of briar to maximize the grain. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank. It reads “MALAGA”. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with an upside down Imported Briar. The tapered stem is vulcanite and has no marking or stamping. This is another nice looking piece much like many of the pipes Alex is picking up. There was cake in the bowl and some darkening on the rim top. The exterior of the briar was dusty with grime and sticky spots on the shank and bowl. The stem is oxidized and there were light tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button edge and some wear on the button edge itself. The entire pipe reeked of the licorice odor that remains when a pipe has been used to smoke Half and Half tobacco. This one is pungent with the odor. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. Other than the darkening at the back side of the rim top the rim was in good condition. The was a light cake in the bowl. The inner edge has some nicks but not to bad. The outer edge of the bowl appeared to be in excellent condition. The biggest issue was the heavy stench of aromatic tobacco. In this case the smell of Half and Half as noted above. The stem was in decent condition. There was some oxidation and wear on the button surfaces on both sides of the stem. There were light tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem but otherwise it was not too bad.I also took a photo of both the left and right side of the shank to show the stamping on them. The stamping is readable in the photos below.For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brand, 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. 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. If you are interested to learn more then I invite you to follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

I started the restoration by reaming the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer followed by a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remnants of the cake on the walls in the heel. I sanded the inside of the walls with a dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked on the slight damage to the inner edge of the rim by sanding it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the damage and the burned areas.I scraped the mortise with a dental spatula to remove the hardened tars and oils on the walls. I then scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I used a lot of pipe cleaners and cotton swabs but I was not beating the stink in the bowl. I knew that I would need to do something a bit more intrusive if I was going to beat it. It was getting late and I was ready to call it a day. I stuffed the bowl with cotton balls and put a folded pipe cleaner in the shank to wick out the tars and oils in the shank. I used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with isopropyl alcohol. It would sit overnight and I would see what came out of the briar. It would also tell me where the issue was.In the morning when I got up I took a photo of the bowl. The cotton balls and alcohol had definitely pulled some oils out of the bowl but not too much. The interesting thing to me was the amount of oils and tars that the pipe cleaner had wicked out of the shank and mortise. This meant a lot more cleaning for me. I took out the cotton balls and pipe cleaner and had a look. I scrubbed the shank and mortise once more with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was clean. Finally I had beaten the stench radiating from the shank of the pipe.Once I finished cleaning out the inside of the pipe, I scrubbed the bowl with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed the bowl under running water to wash off the soap and the grime that the tooth brush had loosened. At this point in the process of restoration I decided to top the bowl to remove the damage to the rim top and the darkening. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper until the rim top was smooth and the darkening was reduced.I polished the outside of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I worked on the darkened area on the rear right side of the outer edge of the rim. I was able to remove much of the damage with the sanding. The photos tell the story. 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 very good with rich grain patterns. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and smooth out the tooth marks on the surface of the button. I am happy with the stem surface once that was done. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. 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 a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With both parts of the pipe finished, 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 oil cured finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The rich finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a chubby billiard that is a nice handful. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This one will be going back to Alex to add to his rack of Malaga pipes that are in his collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on another of Alex’s Malaga collection.

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Restoring #4 of Jennifer’s Dad’s Pipes – A GBD International Brandy


Blog by Steve Laug

Once again time to get back to Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. The next pipe on the worktable is from the estate of George Rex Leghorn. You may not have read this so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The fourth pipe I chose to work on from the lot was an interesting Brandy shaped GBD International with a carved and black stained rim top. It had some beautiful mixed grain on the bowl sides and shank. It had a rich reddish brown stain but it was dirty and hard to see the colour well. The stem was badly oxidized with tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The button was in excellent condition. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava was dirty and tired looking. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included two she included from this pipe.When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This petite looking GBD International with a Plateau rim top appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime and oxidation on the bowl and stem. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim filled in the carving that was a hallmark of the International line but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was worn looking with a lot of deep oxidation and scratches in the vulcanite on both surfaces. There was some tooth chatter and bite marks on both sides at the button. The stem did not have the GBD brass medallion on the top of the saddle nor did have the later stamped and painted logo. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The third photo shows the lava flowing down the outside of the bowl leaving a thick dark ring around the outside of the bowl. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping was still readable even though it was faint. On the topside of the shank it read GBD in an oval (GBD Logo) over International over London Made. On the underside London, England over the shape number 1970. The shank was very dirty as you can see in the photos. The GBD International Line came out in the 1970’s (not to be confused with the shape number stamped on the underside of the shank. I looked up the line on Pipedia to get a good description (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information). I quote from there:

International — France, unknown if also made in England: medium brown smooth, carved top rim, rim stained black. -TH: Matt take off finish “with just a hint of surface waxing” -catalog (1976).

Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and light tooth damage to the stem surface and slight wear to the edge and top of the button.I am once again including the tribute that Jennifer consented to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name.

I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.

Jennifer

*https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.html

Once again Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with mixed grain around the bowl and shank. There was still some darkening on the right side of the outer edge of the rim toward the back of the bowl (I have circled the spot in red in the second photo below). He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the carved blackened rim top and stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. It looked almost flawless. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and chatter in front of the button on both sides.I also took photos of the stamping on the pipe on both the top and underside of the shank. It read as noted above.I polished the outside of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I worked on the darkened area on the rear right side of the outer edge of the rim. I was able to remove much of the damage with the sanding. The photos tell the story. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar of the bowl and the carved rim top with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it deep into the carved finish with a horsehair shoe brush. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the results. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter in and to remove some of the oxidation. I followed that by sanding with 400 grit sandpaper to start the polishing process.I shaped the button and 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 and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and 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 multi coloured stained finish on this briar is quite beautiful and the shine on it makes the variations of colour really pop. The pipe polished up really well. The wax and the contrasting stain on the bowl made the grain just pop on the briar. The polished black vulcanite seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. The petite pipe feels great in my hand and when it warms with smoking I think it will be about perfect. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this old timer. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners, we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.