Daily Archives: September 13, 2019

A Custom Carved Malaga Acorn from Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes

Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on a lot of different estate pipes and selling them for different families. Once in a while it is good to change things up a bit. Last week Alex came by and went through the Malaga pipes from George Koch’s estate. I have a box of pipes from Alex that I am always working away at he added a few more Malaga pipes to his box. There are quite a few of them to work on so I decided work on a few of them. The third of these Malaga pipes is a beautiful acorn shaped Custom Carved with a black acrylic fancy stem. It has a faux carved plateau rim top and shank end and combined with the stem make it a stunning pipe. It has some great cross grain on the front and back and birdseye on the sides of the bowl. The Custom Carved Acorn shaped pipe was just one of the many Malaga pipes 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. This 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. If you have followed the restorations you will have read the information and the background piece that Kathy did on her father. Here is a link to one of the previous blogs on his Malaga pipes where I included her tribute in full (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/26/back-to-kathys-dads-pipes-restoring-a-%c2%bc-bent-malaga-author/). You can also read the bio on her Dad, George Koch. It is an interesting read and one that shows just how far our pipe collecting passion can go when we find a brand of pipes that we enjoy. I am going to only include the portion on the Malagas at this point. If you wish to read the rest follow the link above.

Kathy writes…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…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

The Malaga Custom Carved Acorn with the fancy turned black acrylic stem is next on the table. The carver did a great job of shaping the pipe to follow the grain on the briar. The faux plateau on the rim top and shank end looks really good. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed with lava onto the rim so that it was impossible to see if there was damage on the edges. The sides of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA” with the quotation marks over Custom Carved. The fancy black 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 close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some lava overflow in the grooves of the faux plateau and some darkening on the back of the bowl. It was so dirty that it was hard to know if there was rim damage on the inner edge of the bowl. The pipe is incredibly dirty, even the externals of the bowl were covered with grime. He also took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank to show the beautiful straight and cross grain around the bowl. The photos show the general condition of the bowl and wear on the finish. It is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe.He also took photos of the shank end and fancy stem. The plateau is filled in with dust and debris. The twin rings are also filled in with dust and debris.Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the top side of the shank. The photos show the stamping “MALAGA” on the left side of the shank and under that it is stamped Custom Carved in script. The stamping is very readable.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.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. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. 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 back side and on the outer edge 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 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. The acrylic/Lucite stem had tooth chatter and some tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface.I took 2 photos of the stamping on the shank to show how good the condition is. The first one shows the “MALAGA” stamp. It is double stamped but is very legible on the topside. The second photo shows the second line of the stamp and reads Custom Carved in script.I decided to address the rim top first. I scrubbed the rim top with a brass bristle brush to clean off some of the darkening and minimize the damage on surface of the rim top. The damage to the rim top is minimized to some degree and the inner edge looks far better. The damage to the rim looks much better than when I began.I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for about 10 minutes then rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off with a soft cloth. I filled in the deep nicks on the right side of the bowl. I sanded the fills with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repaired areas. I used a Maple stain pen to touch up the stain colour on the remainder of the bowl.I polished the rim top and the exterior of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad to remove the dust. Each grit of micromesh gave it more of a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the 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 rusticated faux plateau on the rim top and shank end. I worked in deeper with a horsehair shoebrush. 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 reworked bowl looks really good and matches the colour of the rest of the pipe. I am very happy with the results. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. There were some deep tooth marks on the top and underside at the button that needed to be addressed. I also needed to do some work on the surface of the button on both sides. I cleaned the surface of the stem with alcohol on a cotton pad and filled in the damaged areas and built up the surface of the button with clear super glue. I set the stem aside until the repairs cured. Once the glue had cured I used a needle file to reshape the button and flatten out the repairs. The stem looked much better.I sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter and the repair into the surface of the stem. As I sanded and reshaped the button and stem surface the repaired areas and the tooth chatter disappeared.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. This is a beautiful Malaga Freehand Acorn with a black fancy turned acrylic stem. It has a great look and feel. The faux plateau rim top and shank end and the cut of the briar work well to highlight the birdseye and cross grain around the bowl sides. I polished Lucite 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 grain took on life with the buffing. The rich oil cured colour works well with the polished black Lucite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the finished Malaga pipes that I have set aside for Alex. I am glad that he is carrying on the trust for George Koch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another one of Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes.

Emergency Repair for a Friend – Repairing a Broken Shank on a Thompson Dublin

Blog by Steve Laug

Probably some time early in the past year Al purchased this pipe from Jeff and me. It quickly became his favourite pipe and he enjoyed smoking it. He wrote me a quick email a few weeks ago which I include here

Steve, I purchased a Thompson Freehand in red stain some time ago. It has become my most favorite pipe. However, the pipe suffered catastrophic damage as the stem broke cleanly at the base of the bowl, the result of a slip of the grip while at the buffing wheel despite my vise like grip.

I’ve included a photo of my favorite pipe in hopes that you can perform a miracle of craftsmanship.

Help me Steve, you’re my only hope!

Sincerely, Al — newly retired and heartbroken…He had cleaned it and was buffing it and the pipe got away from him (pipe restorer’s and repairman’s nightmare). It hit the floor or wall or something hard anyway and the shank snapped off at the bowl. It was a clean break and looked repairable. It arrived on Tuesday this week. I opened the box and I found the stem and shank carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and tissue and the bowl separately wrapped the same way. Both had been packed in a pipe box and carefully cushioned with paper and bubble wrap in a larger box. I always wonder what the Customs Inspectors must think when they open these carefully wrapped packages and find a broken, used tobacco pipe. They must shake their heads in disbelief that such care would go into packing such “debris”. I took the pipe from the boxes, unwrapped it and took the following photo. The shank was indeed snapped at the bowl and the stem was still in the shank!I took the stem off the shank and checked the fit. It was a pretty clean break – just a few small piece of briar chipped and missing. I went through my collection of tubes and found one that was close to the length I needed and was a perfect fit in the airway in the two sections. I roughed up the tubing with a file to give the glue a good surface to bind with. I coated the end of the tube that fit in the shank portion with a two part epoxy and put it in place in the shank. Once the glue had hardened I could adjust the length of the tube however much I needed on a topping board of with the Dremel and sanding drum.Once the glue cured and I had adjusted the length of the tube I spread the epoxy on the tube and on the surfaces of the snapped briar and pressed them together. I used an epoxy that hardened fairly quickly so I adjusted the fit and pressed the two parts together and held them until the glue had hardened. Once the repair had cured I took pictures of the repaired pipe. You can still see the cracked area on the right and underside of the bowl but the fit is quite tight. I needed to do a bit more work on those areas to get a good blend to the repair. I used my Dremel and a steel burr to replicate the rustication pattern around the bowl. I set the Dremel as the lowest speed and worked the burr to connect both vertical and horizontal patterns. It blended well. The first set of 3 photos shows the cut patterns and the second set of 3 shows the finished carving. I used a Black Sharpie and a Red Sharpie pen to stain the freshly carved rustication. The black went into the carving while the red was applied to the high spots. I covered the whole repaired area with some Mahogany stain to blend the colours into the rest of the finish. I gave the repaired area a coat of Danish Oil and Cherry stain to give it a shine that would match the shine on the rest of the bowl. I set it aside to dry.Once the Danish Oil coat had dried I lightly buffed the pipe with microfibre cloth to polish the repaired area. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I am happy with the repair and the finishing on the shank. The repair blends in very well. It is ready to send it back to Al. I will get it packed up and get it in the mail. I hope that he continues to enjoy this beauty. Thanks for following the blog and reading about the repair. Cheers.