Blog by Steve Laug
I have another of Alex’s purchases on the table this morning. It is a smooth finished pipe in a shape that really covers a gamut of shapes – a bent pot, paneled pot, sitter, canted pot sitter. It is a very unique Malaga that I am not sure what to call. When it is set as a sitter the rim top is straight with the stem. The pipe was dirty and caked with few spots of lava and some darkening on the inner edge of the bowl. The bowl had a rough surfaced cake. The exterior was dirty with grime and oils. The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA” and the right side read Imported Briar. The vulcanite saddle stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides. I took photos of the pipe before I started the cleanup work. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. The rim top had some lava and darkening on the top and the inner edge. There was a thin uneven cake in the bowl. Other than being very dirty the pipe was in great condition. The stem was dirty and covered with a thick scum on the surfaces. There was tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and some tooth marks on the button surface itself.I took a photo to capture the stamping on both sides of the shank. The first photo shows the stamping “MALAGA” on the left side of the shank. The second photo shows the stamping on the right side of the shank. It reads Imported Briar. The stamping on both sides is clear and readable.If this is the first of the Malaga restorations that you have read about then you should know the backstory of the brand. 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. 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 with the bowl first. I cleaned up the rim top with a folded piece of 220 and 400 grit sandpaper to remove the lava and the damage. I followed Jeff and my regular regimen for cleaning estates. I reamed the light cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to smooth out the inside walls of the bowl. The mortise was surprisingly clean but there were some tars and oils on the walls. I scrubbed the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.I polished the exterior of the bowl and the rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I scrubbed the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. I scrubbed it off with running water to remove the soap and the grime on the bowl. I dried it off with a soft cloth. 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 photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter with 220 grit sand paper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it the tooth chatter and oxidation was gone and it began to shine.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish from a tin of it I have in the drawer here. It is a gritty red paste that I rub on with my finger tips and work into the surface of the stem and button and buff off with a cotton pad. It gives me a bit of a head start on the polishing work plus I have a tin to use up!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 Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a final coat of Obsidian Oil. This is interestingly shaped smooth, bent sitter in what I would call a Bent, Paneled Pot Sitter with a black vulcanite saddle stem. It has a great look and feel. The shape is very tactile and fits well in the hand. The shape makes it a unique looking pipe. I polished 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 rich oil cured briar took on life with the buffing. The rich brown colour of the briar work well with the polished vulcanite 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 ½ 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. This will be a great addition to his collection of Malaga pipes. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another Malaga.