New Life for a Rusticated Malaga Bullmoose for Alex

Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on a lot of different estate pipes and selling them for different families. I am continuing to work on the Malaga pipes that Alex put aside for restoration. He also brought other pipes to add to his box. I have a box of pipes from Alex that I am always working away at. He periodically drops more Malaga pipes into his box. There are quite a few of them to work on so I decided work on a few of them. The next one of these was another Malaga pipe. It is a rusticated Bullmoose with deeply carved grooves and rustications almost like bark on the bowl and shank of the pipe that really grabbed my attention. It has a vulcanite saddle stem. The pipe was dirty and caked when arrived. The rim top has lava and some darkening on the top edge of the bowl. The bowl had not only a thick cake in the bowl but had the remnants of the previous pipeman’s last smoke inside. The exterior of the bowl and shank are dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA” The vulcanite saddle stem was in great condition and had tooth marks and chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. 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 smooth top and a slight nick on the front inner edge. The bowl was half filled with tobacco that had been sitting for a very long time in the bowl. It had hardened. Above the tobacco there was a thick 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 the shank. The photo shows the stamping “MALAGA” on a smooth panel on the left side of the shank. It is clear and very 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 – 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 used a dental pick to remove the remnants of the previous pipeman’s tobacco. The dottle was very hard and dry. It was almost welded to the wall of the bowl and pressed into the hardened cake. I followed Jeff and my regular regimen for cleaning estates. I reamed the light cake in the bowl with a PipNet pipe reaming set to remove the hard cake on the walls. I cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remnants of 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. I wiped the bowl interior down with a paper towel to remove the debris. I repaired the nick on rim top at the front of the bowl. I filled it in with a drop of clear Krazy Glue and pressed some briar dust into the surface of the glue.I scraped out the mortise and the shank with a pen knife to remove the thick build of tobacco lacquer on the walls. The walls were covered with debris that was thick and hard. I scrubbed the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. 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 rusticated surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush 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 an interesting Rusticated “Malaga” Bullmoose 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 rustication and grooves make it a unique looking pipe. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 and black colours 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: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ 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.

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