Blog by Steve Laug
I have another of Alex’s purchases on the table this morning. It is an Oom Paul pipe with a rusticated finish. It is another very unique Malaga that has the same kind of rustication as a lot of the Custom-Bilt pipes had as well. The rim top, the ring around the shank end and a panel on each side of the shank are smooth. 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 thick rough surfaced cake. The exterior was dirty with grime and oils in the crevices of the finish. The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA” and the right side the stamping was in an oval and read Imported Briar. There appears to be something else in the oval but it is worn. The first two letters could be CA the rest are worn away. The vulcanite saddle stem had two dots on the left side of the stem. It was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides. There was a chip out of the top edge of the button. 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 it was thick enough that I could not see if there was any darkening or damage on the crowned rim top and the inner edge. There was a thick cake in the bowl. Other than being very dirty the pipe was in great condition. The stem was dirty and oxidized. It was 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. There was a large chunk out of the top of the button on the stem. I have included a close up photo of the chipped stem surface below.I took a photo to capture the stamping on the shank. The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA”. I forgot to take a photo of the stamping on the right side the stamping but it was in an oval and read Imported Briar. There appears to be something in the center of the oval but it is worn. The first two letters could be CA the rest is worn away. It would make sense that this was one of the pipes from the “MALAGA” CARVED line so the rest of the letters may well be RVED. There were also two white dots on the left side of the saddle stem.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 followed Jeff and my regular regimen for cleaning estates. I reamed the thick cake in the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer using the third size of cutting heads to take the cake back to bare briar. I followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the slight remnants of cake toward the bottom of the bowl. 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 smooth rim top and the ring around the end of the shank 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. The polishing took the remainder of the bit of lava that had remained after the cleanup. I scrubbed the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. I scrubbed it off under 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 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 took a photo of the stem before I started my work on it. I cleaned it with alcohol and sanded off the calcification and oxidation on the surface. Once it was cleaned I mixed up a batch of activated charcoal powder and black super glue. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the button. I used a dental spatula to fill in the missing chunk of vulcanite. Once it had hardened a bit I removed the pipe cleaner and set it aside to cure.I set it on a container to let the repair cure. Once it hardened I would need to reshape the button and the slot on the stem. I had also filled in the damage to the underside of the button. The reshaping would bring it back to the original shape.I shaped the button edges and surface with a needle file to remove the excess material on the repair. I still need to do some more sanding but the stem is shaping up to be quite nice. I still need to remove the oxidation on the surface but it is getting there.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 reshaped the slot in the button end with needle files to clean up the shape.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 another interestingly shaped rusticated pipe in what I would call an Oom Paul shape. It has a black vulcanite saddle stem with two brass dots. The smooth rim top and shank end band look really good against the rustication. Everything about this one says that it was part of the “Malaga” Carved line of pipes. It has a great look and feel. The shape is very tactile and fits well in the hand. 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 colour of the briar works 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: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ 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.