Tag Archives: Malaga Pipe Shop pipes

Renewing a “Malaga” Algerian Briar Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

I seem to have passed on my love of Malaga pipes to my friend Alex here in Vancouver. He is moving out a lot of his previous rotation and adding more Malagas to his pipe rack. He has been scouring eBay and has found some real beauties. The fun part of his hunts is that I get to see them and restore many of them. On the work table today is a beautifully grained Malaga Apple with a straight shank. (Here is a link to some history of the Malaga Brand for those of you who may be interested in learning more: https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/ and another link to the maker George Khoubesser and an old catalogue that I have scanned: https://rebornpipes.com/2013/02/09/george-khoubesser-and-malaga-pipes/.)

Malaga Briar Pipe Company was in Royal Oak, Michigan, USA. They billed themselves as “devoted to the greater and true enjoyment of pipe smoking”. There pipes have a unique curing process that makes them a sweet smoking, light weight smoking machine. They are beautifully carved and shaped and quite unique as an American made pipe. They were made in both classic and freehand shapes. I am including a couple of photos of George Khoubesser the pipe maker to give some colour to the pipe that I am working on.  

With the image of George puffing his pipe and standing at his lathe crafting a Malaga pipe I turned my attention to this interesting Malaga Apple shaped pipe. It is stamped on the left side of the shank “MALAGA” and on the right side of the shank Algerian Briar. The grain on the pipe is quite stunning and is a mix of straight, flame and birdseye. The round shank flows into a vulcanite tapered stem that is oxidized and has light tooth marks and chatter near the button. The stem is spotted and speckled from sitting in a display case or on a pipe rack somewhere. The smooth finished briar is dirty but even under the grime there is something quite beautiful about the pipe. There is grime and tars on the surface of the bowl and shank. The bowl had a thick cake part way down the bowl and some lava overflowed onto the back of the rim top. The bottom part of the bowl still showed raw briar so it had not been smoked too much. I took pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show what I was dealing with. This Malaga Apple was in decent shape all things considered. The cake in the bowl was thick on the top half of the bowl while the bottom of the bowl was raw briar. There was lava on backside of the rim top. You can see the cake in the bowl in the first photo below. The stem was dirty, oxidized, almost mottled looking. There was some light tooth chatter on the top and underside for about an inch ahead of the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the left and right side of the shank. It was very sharp and readable. The photos also show some of the dark spots of sticky grime on the shank and bowl.I reamed the bowl to remove the cake on the walls and the debris that still remained in the bowl. I used a PipNet pipe reamer to start the process. I followed that with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining cake in the conical bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. It smooths out the walls and also helps bring the inner edges back to round. I cleaned up the rim top and removed the thick lava coat on the back top side of the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and sanded it lightly with a well-used piece of 220 grit sandpaper.I polished the rim top and the rest of the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. The pictures tell the story and show the increasing shine of the briar after each set of pads. I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. It was dirtier than I expected in the shank and stem but now it not only looks clean but smells clean.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the smooth finish of the bowl, rim top and shank. I worked it into the surface with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth to polish the bowl. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. The two papers combined did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end.  I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. 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 really stands out on this beautiful Malaga. The contrast of swirling grain looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This Malaga Apple is one of three pipes that I am working on for Alex. Once I am finished with the other two it go back to him to enjoy. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. Alex, I am looking forward to your thoughts on this one! Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

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Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes – Beautiful Grained Malaga Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is also from George Koch’s estate. It is a Malaga Semi Rusticated Bent Billiard. It has some great grain on the smooth portions and an interesting rustication pattern of spots around the bowl and shank. The rim top was beveled inward and looked very good.  The pipe was another one of many 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. The Malaga came in mixed in a box of pipes much like the one pictured below.In each of the previous blogs that I have written on the restoration of George’s pipes I have told his story. To me it is important to keep the story attached to the pipes that came from his collection. Each pipe I work on I remind myself of the man and in the work give a remembrance to the pipeman who owned these pipes. Having held a large number of his pipes in my hand and having a pretty good feel for the shapes, colour and stems that he liked, I can almost imagine George picking out each pipe in his collection at the Malaga shop in Michigan. He loved Malagas and the majority of his collection was Malaga pipes of various shapes, sizes and finishes. I am including Kathy’s brief bio of her father and a photo of her Dad enjoying his “Malagas”. Here is George’s bio written by his daughter.

Dad was born in 1926 and lived almost all his life in Springfield, Illinois. He was the youngest son of German immigrants and started grade school knowing no English. His father was a coal miner who died when Dad was about seven and his sixteen year old brother quit school to go to work to support the family. There was not much money, but that doesn’t ruin a good childhood, and dad had a good one, working many odd jobs, as a newspaper carrier, at a dairy, and at the newspaper printing press among others.

He learned to fly even before he got his automobile driver’s license and carried his love of flying with him through life, recertifying his license in retirement and getting his instrumental license in his seventies and flying until he was grounded by the FAA in his early eighties due to their strict health requirements. (He was never happy with them about that.) He was in the Army Air Corps during World War II, trained to be a bomber, but the war ended before he was sent overseas. He ended service with them as a photographer and then earned his engineering degree from University of Illinois. He worked for Allis Chalmers manufacturing in Springfield until the early sixties, when he took a job at Massey Ferguson in Detroit, Michigan.

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. Dad quit smoking later in life and so they’ve sat on the racks for many years unattended, a part of his area by his easy chair and fireplace. Dad passed when he was 89 years old and it finally is time for the pipes to move on. 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

Once again, I want to thank Kathy for providing this beautiful tribute to her Dad. Jeff and I appreciate your trust in allowing us to clean and restore these pipes. We are also trusting that those of you who are reading this might carry on the legacy of her Dad’s pipes as they will be added to the rebornpipes store once they are finished.

The next the pipe is a nicely shaped bent Billiard with a vulcanite stem. It has beautiful grain all around the bowl – birdseye on the sides of the bowl and cross grain on front and the back. The rusticated spots on the sides of the bowl and shank are black and have a tight rustication pattern. The rim top is beveled inward and has rich cross grain in the briar.  The reddish brown stain really looks good with the black spots around the bowl. There was a light cake in the bowl and some lava on the beveled rim top. The stamping on the top side of the shank read MALAGA with a line under it. The black vulcanite stem was deeply oxidized but here were no tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside near the button. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and rim to show the condition of the pipe and finish. The bowl really was in good condition other than general dirtiness.The rim top shows some lava build up on the rim toward the front of the bowl. The inside of the bowl has a light cake and shreds of tobacco on the walls of the bowl. The inside of the bowl was dirty.The left side of the shank is clearly stamped with an underlined MALAGA.The stem was oxidized, had some paint spots on it and tooth chatter and worn edges on the button. There were no deep spots so it was clean other thank oxidized. Jeff has picked up quite pipes of this brand over the past year along with the ones from Kathy’s Dad’s estate. All of the pipes were made by the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. The more I work on the brand the more I am impressed by the quality of the craftsmanship and beauty of the pipes that came from the shop. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand if you are interested: 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 had 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. The rim was thoroughly cleaned and looked virtually undamaged. Without the grime the finish looked really good. The bowl looked very clean and also was unchecked or damaged. The tapered vulcanite stem would need to be worked on but I really like the profile it cast. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it.  I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top along with both sides of the stem to show the condition of the pipe after Jeff cleaned it up.I removed the stem and put it, along with two other stems to soak in a Before & After Deoxidizer bath. I left them in the bath for about 4 hours to soak and break through the oxidation. I took the stems out of the bath and rinsed them under running water and scrubbed them dry with a coarse piece of cloth. I took photos of the three stems before I continued my work. There was some residual oxidation on the stem surface so I sanded it out with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked on it until all the oxidation and the light tooth chatter was removed.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set the stem aside to dry. I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface and the rusticated patches on 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 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 grain really came alive in both the rusticated portions and the smooth panels with the buffing and works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. Together the pipe looks much better than when I began and has a rich look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I will be putting this newly finished Malaga pipe on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection and carrying on the trust. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another one of Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes.

Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes #11 – Restoring a Beautiful Custom Carved Malaga Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

With this blog I worked on another of the Malaga pipes from Kathy’s Dad’s estate. This is the eleventh of the pipes from collection. For a reminder to myself and those of you who are reading this blog I will retell the story of the estate. Last fall I received a contact email on rebornpipes from Kathy asking if I would be interested in purchasing her late Father, George Koch’s estate pipes. He was a lover of “Malaga” pipes as well as others and she wanted to move them out as she cleaned up the estate. We emailed back and forth and I had my brother Jeff follow up with her as he also lives in the US and would make it simpler to carry out this transaction. The long and short of it is that we purchased her Dad’s pipes – Malagas and others. I have never seen this many “Malagas” together in one place in all of my years of pipe restoring and refurbishing. There are some beautiful pipes in that lot. The condition of all them varied from having almost pristine to gnawed and damaged stems that will need to be replaced. These were some well used and obviously well-loved pipes. Cleaning and restoring them will be a tribute to this pipeman. (Here is a link to some history of the Malaga Brand if you are interested: https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/. There are also links there to a catalogue and the maker George Khoubesser.)Those of you who have followed me for a while know how much I love getting to know about the pipeman who held the pipes in trust before me. That information always gives another dimension to the restoration work. This is certainly true with this lot of pipes. I can almost imagine George picking out each pipe in his collection at the Malaga shop in Michigan. Once again, I am including that information so you can know a bit about the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before they are passed on to some of you. I include part of Kathy’s correspondence with my brother as well…. I may well be alone in this, but when I know about the person it is almost as if he is with me while I work on his pipes. In this case Kathy sent us not only information but also a photo of her Dad enjoying his “Malagas”.

Jeff…Here is a little about my dad, George P. Koch…I am sending a picture of him with a pipe also in a separate email.

Dad was born in 1926 and lived almost all his life in Springfield, Illinois. He was the youngest son of German immigrants and started grade school knowing no English. His father was a coal miner who died when Dad was about seven and his sixteen year old brother quit school to go to work to support the family. There was not much money, but that doesn’t ruin a good childhood, and dad had a good one, working many odd jobs, as a newspaper carrier, at a dairy, and at the newspaper printing press among others. He learned to fly even before he got his automobile driver’s license and carried his love of flying with him through life, recertifying his license in retirement and getting his instrumental license in his seventies and flying until he was grounded by the FAA in his early eighties due to their strict health requirements. (He was never happy with them about that.) He was in the Army Air Corps during World War II, trained to be a bomber, but the war ended before he was sent overseas. He ended service with them as a photographer and then earned his engineering degree from University of Illinois. He worked for Allis Chalmers manufacturing in Springfield until the early sixties, when he took a job at Massey Ferguson in Detroit, Michigan. 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. Dad quit smoking later in life and so they’ve sat on the racks for many years unattended, a part of his area by his easy chair and fireplace. Dad passed when he was 89 years old and it finally is time for the pipes to move on. 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

Kathy, once again I thank you for providing this beautiful tribute to your Dad. We will appreciate your trust in allowing us to clean and restore these pipes. I am also trusting that those of you who are reading this might carry on the legacy of her Dad’s pipes as they will be added to the rebornpipes store once they are finished.

The eleventh of the pipes that I chose to work on is a nice looking Freehand with beautiful grain all around the bowl – straight, flame and birdseye. The top of the bowl is very rustic looking plateau briar that is filled with nooks and crannies. The end of the shank has one small spot of plateau that is almost a token piece. The plateau top was almost filled in with a heavy lava build up flowing from the bowl. It appeared that underneath the rim top was in good condition and the inner and outer edge of the bowl was in good condition. The stamping was on the underside of the shank and was clear and read “Malaga” over Custom Carved. The brown, swirled, pearlized Lucite stem had tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. The interior of the pipe was dirty. I could see that this was another pipe that George thoroughly enjoyed this pipe along with the others as is evidenced by the wear that all of them show. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took close up photos of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before he started to work his magic on it. The exterior of the bowl and shank were dirty. You can see the lava on the rim top, the thick cake and remnants of tobacco in the bowl. The second rim top photo shows the thick cake and debris in the bowl. It is dirty but in otherwise good condition.  He also took photos of the sides of the bowl and shank from different angles to show the condition of the design of the bowl. The pipe looked good. He took photos of the shank end to show what it looked like before cleanup.Jeff also took a photo to capture the stamping on the underside of the shank. The next two photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. On the second photo below there appears to be a tooth mark/hole deep in the surface of the acrylic. I am hoping that it is not all the way the surface of the stem.Jeff cleaned this one up before he sent it my way. After having cleaned quite a few pipes lately, it was nice to work on another one that he had cleaned for me. He is really good at the cleanup work. He had 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 bowl, plateau rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The lava mess on the rim was thoroughly removed without harming the finish underneath it. Without the grime the finish looked really good. The Lucite stem would need to be worked on but I really like the thin profile it cast. 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. The top was in excellent condition and Jeff was able to remove all of the lava and oils. He had scrubbed the bowl with a tooth brush and oil soap and it looked really good. The thin profile acrylic/Lucite stem had tooth chatter and some bite marks on the top and a deeper more prevalent tooth mark among the chatter on the underside of the stem just ahead of the button.The underside of the shank was stamped with “Malaga” over Custom Carved. I took a photo of the shank to show the stamping. I am not sure how far up the hierarchy of Malaga pipes this one comes. It is a beautiful piece of briar.I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the plateau on the rim and the smooth portions to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it into the plateau on the rim top and the shank end with my fingertips and the help of a horsehair shoe brush. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. There were some tooth marks and chatter on the top and more chatter and a deeper tooth mark on the underside of the acrylic stem at the button. I cleaned off the surface of the stem with alcohol and filled in the deep tooth mark with clear super glue. Once it cured, I sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter and the repair into the surface of the stem. It did not take too much sanding to remove the marks and smooth out the stem surface. When it was sanded it was smooth and the marks were gone. I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I the polished stem and lightly polished the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and 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. This turned out to be a beautiful pipe in terms of shape and finish. This is the eleventh pipe that I am restoring from Kathy’s Dad’s collection. I am looking forward once again to hearing what Kathy thinks once she sees the finished pipe on the blog. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches wide and 2 inches long, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this Malaga from George’s estate. More will follow in a variety of shapes and sizes. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly so if you are interested in adding it to your collection and carrying on the trust from her father send me an email or a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.