Restoring a Faceted “Malaga” Poker from Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I was looking through the bag of pipes that Alex chose from George Koch’s estate. This one is the first of two interestingly shaped Poker Sitters. The rim was well knocked about and the acrylic stem had some tooth dents and deep gouges in the surface of the variegated silver. The inner and outer edges of the rim top were damaged from knocking the pipe out against a hard surface. The carver had done a great job matching the mixed grain to the flow of the shape of the bowl and shank. Remember that all of these Malaga pipes came to my brother and me in several shipments of pipes from George’s daughter Kathy. Jeff unwrapped the pipes when they came to him and took the following photo to give an idea of the volume of the pipes that we purchased. The carver did a great job of shaping the pipe to follow the grain on the briar. The large bowl, round shank and tapered variegated silver acrylic stem look very good. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed with lava onto the rim. The inner and outer edges of the rim were in rough shape as was the rim top. 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”. The right side read Imported Briar. The acrylic stem had tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside. 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 and darkening and wear under the lava on the rim at the back of the bowl. There appeared to be deep nicks in the outer edge at the front of the grimy pipe. He also took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank to show the beautiful grain and unique carvings 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. 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. The stamping is very readable. The next photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button and wear on the button surface and edges.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

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. Even after the cleanup it is another on that is in rough condition. But even in its damaged condition you can see the great grain on the bowl. The photos show the damaged rim top. The interesting shape, round shank and chewed acrylic stem give a clear picture of what the pipe must have looked like when George bought it at the shop. The rim top had been knocked hard against rough surfaces to knock out the dottle and left damage. The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA” and on the right side it read Imported Briar. The acrylic stem had been chewed but could be easily repaired. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work. I took a photo of the  rim top and bowl to show the condition of the pipe. You can see why I said it was used as a hammer. The surface of the rim is very rough and you can see the damage on both the inner and outer edge of the rim. There is some darkening on the back edge and surface of the rim top. I took photos of the stem to show the chewed condition it was in. Remember this is hard acrylic so it took some real gnawing to do this to it!I took photos of the shank to capture the stamping on both sides. The first photo shows the stamping “MALAGA” on the left and the second shows Imported Briar on the right. Both are clear and readable.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.

I decided to start the restoration of the pipe by dealing with the rim top. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and cleaned up the inner edge with a piece of folded 220 grit sandpaper. I used some clear Krazy Glue to fill in the rim damage on the front edge. It was nicked and worn so I filled it in to smooth it out. I sanded the repair after the glue cured. I smoothed out surface of the front edge and rim top until it blended into the surface. I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the rim edge repairs and top. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The photos show the progress. I scrubbed the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. 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 used an Oak Stain Pen to stain the rim top to blend topping and darkening into the bowl colour. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad. You can see from the photo below it blends well.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. I am very happy with the results. I turned to the stem and filled in the deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem with clear Krazy Glue. I set it aside to let the repairs cure.I used a needle file to reshape the button edge on both sides. I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to clean up the stem.I polished the 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. I finished by polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish both Fine and Extra Fine and then wiped it down a final time with a damp cloth. This restored “Malaga” Poker with a taper acrylic stem is a beauty. The unique shape of the bowl, the reshaped and repaired rim top and the cut of the briar work well to highlight the grain around the bowl sides. I polished acrylic silver variegated 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 acrylic 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: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the box of finished Malaga pipes that I have completed for Alex. I am looking forward to hearing what he thinks of this beauty and once he fires it up and carries 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.

1 thought on “Restoring a Faceted “Malaga” Poker from Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes

  1. kmcc222

    I love looking at the grain of the briar on this pipe, and the feel of it in the hand. I am continually amazed with the beautiful restoration work, such a pleasure to see! Thank you again!

    Reply

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