Tag Archives: Malaga Ras Kassa Pipes

New Beginnings for a Malaga Ras Kassa Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from another of our estate purchases. It has been around for a while waiting to be worked on. Jeff did the original photographs of the pipe in December 2019. It is a beautifully grained Malaga Ras Kassa Freehand that is really quite nice. The Ras Kassa is the top of the line for Malaga pipes and very few receive that premium stamping. The grain on this one is unique on the left and amazing birdseye on the right. The stamping is the readable. It is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads the Malaga [over] Ras Kassa. The Malaga Oil finish had a lot of grime ground into the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. There was a cut in the left side of the bowl toward the top. The bowl was heavily caked and had an overflow of lava on the top of the rim. It was hard to know what the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked like under the grime. The rim top and shank end are carved plateau like finishes and had a lot of grime ground into them. The fancy turned Freehand stem was calcified, oxidized and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside particularly on the button surface. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. It is hard to know what the rim edge looks like under the lava coat. He also took photos of the fancy turned portion of the stem as well as the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, calcification, light chatter and tooth marks and damage on the underside of the button.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some interesting grain under the grime.   He took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. They read as noted above. 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.

Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. 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. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the damages to the top and edges of the rim. I think this pipe may well been before we worked with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer so he cleaned the internals and externals. The stem was clean but lightly oxidized. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable.    The carved plateau style rim top and shank end cleaned up really well. The lava coat was removed and some darkening left behind on the back side of the rim top. The edges were in good condition. The stem surface looked very good with heavy oxidation remaining and some light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button.  You can also see the damage to the button on the underside of the stem.      I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the well shaped Freehand. Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. The slice in the briar on the left side needed to be repaired. It was not deep but it would not raise with steam. I filled it  in with clear super glue applied to the slice with a tooth pick.  Once the repair cured I sanded it with 340 grit sandpaper to blend it into the rest of the surface.I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the top and underside of the shank so as not to damage the already faint stamping.     I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides, plateau top and shank end with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. While I was working on the bowl the stem was soaking in a new product I received from Briarville Pipe Repair – Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. It is a liquid of about the same consistency as apple juice. The stem sat in the mixture for 2 ½ -3 hours. I removed the stem from the bath, scrubbed lightly with a tooth brush and dried if off with a paper towel. I was surprised that it was quite clean. Just some light oxidation on the top of the saddle remaining. The bath was dark with the removed oxidation of the seven stems. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners.  I scrubbed the stem surface with Soft Scrub All Purpose cleanser to remove the remaining oxidation. The oxidation was strongest in the twists and turns of the lower portion of the stem. It took quite a bit of elbow grease to remove the oxidation but when I was finished it looked very good.     I rebuilt the button edge on the underside to smooth out the finish and remove the tooth damage. Once the repair cured I smooth it out and blended it into the surface of the  vulcanite with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. (I forgot to take photos of this.)I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This well made, classic Malaga Ras Kassa Freehand with a fancy turned vulcanite stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich oil finish that Malaga used came alive with the polishing and waxing. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Malaga Ras Kassa is a beauty with combination of smooth and plateau rim and shank end. It fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Breathing Life into a Top Grade Malaga – a Raskassa Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

With two pipes left to work on from Bob Kerr’s estate I needed to take a break and work on something different. Jeff had asked me about a Malaga Raskassa pipe that he said he had sent me. I could not find it in any of the boxes I had here. It turned out that it has been here for several years. I found it in a box of pipes awaiting restoration that I was going through to put together grab bags. I was surprised and decided it was the next one I would work on. The pipe is a Malaga Dublin with some beautiful grain around the oil cured bowl and shank. There is beautiful birdseye grain on the front and back of the bowl and cross grain on the sides. The pipe has not been stained but sports the usual Malaga oil cured look. The carver did a great job utilizing the block of briar to maximize the grain. The pipe is stamped on both sides of the shank. On the left it reads MALAGA and on the right side it is stamped RASKASSA. The saddle stem is vulcanite and has no marking or stamping. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a light lava overflow and darkening on the rim top. The exterior of the briar was dusty with grime ground into the briar. The stem is lightly oxidized and has light tooth chatter on both sides. The stem was in good condition under the grime. Jeff took the photos below to tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before his cleanup. The exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with grime and there was a spotty coat of lava that overflowed the bowl. There was a thick, hard cake in the bowl.    Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the bowl.  The next photos show the stamping on the sides of the shank and it is very readable. It reads as noted above.    The stem was dirty and oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brand, 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. 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. If you are interested to learn more then I invite you to follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

I am also am including some printed material on the Malaga brand that came to me from the daughter of George Koch to help identify the particular stamping on the pipe. The link takes you to the entire collection of materials that were sent to me. I am also including one particular page that helps identify the RAS KASSA stamping on the pipe. https://rebornpipes.com/2019/02/27/malaga-pipes-catalogue-of-pipes-and-tobaccos/

It basically says that the stamping is applied to pipes with special rare grain patterns in the briar. These appear to be straight grain, birdseye, swirled grains etc. that are tight patterns. They are rare – 1 or 2 in every hundred pipes. This pipe is one of those. You can read the description in the detailed explanation below.

Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped it back to me. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top and edges are in excellent condition. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks on the stem surface.    I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above.  I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. You can see scratches in the stem surface.Now, on to my part of the restoration of this Malaga Raskassa Dublin. I decided to start by polishing the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.   I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bark on the bowl sides and shank 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.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter. The heat lifted the scratches and dents in the stem surface that left behind only one small tooth dent. It also had the added benefit of burning off some of the oxidation.I filled in the remaining tooth mark with clear super glue. Once it cured I smoothed out the surface of the repair with a needle file.     I sanded out the repair and scratches to blend it into the surface of the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.      I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    After finding this Malaga Raskassa that I have been looking for through my boxes I was glad to finish it. It really is a great looking pipe. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and works well with the polished vulcanite saddle stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Malaga Raskassa Dublin is a great looking pipe that looks almost new. The flow of the grain around the bowl and the shape contribute to beautiful look of this pipe. It fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I have been looking for a Malaga Raskassa for my own collection so this one fits the bill for me. I look forward to enjoying it. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This was an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Restoring the Last of Alex’s Current “Malagas” – A Twisted Ras Kassa Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is the last Malaga pipe from Alex’s batch.This is a “Malaga” Ras Kassa –a twisted carved Dublin. It has some amazing grain around the bowl that is carved to highlight the grain around the bowl and give the briar some playful carved twists. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank, “MALAGA” over RAS KASSA. The tapered vulcanite stem has notches and twists like the bowl. There is no marking or stamping on the stem. This is a second RAS KASSA from Alex and it is as nice as the previous one. I have included the link so you can check it out (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/05/23/rebirthing-a-malaga-ras-kassa-canadian/). The bowl had a medium cake in the chamber that was no problem. The rim top was really in rough condition. There was major burn damage on the rim top and the inner edge. The entire inner edge had been compromised. The outer edge had some darkening and burn damage as well particularly at the back of the bowl. The exterior of the briar was dusty with grime and dust. The stem had heavy, deep oxidation and deep tooth marks in the surface of the stem on both sides. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. You can see the extent of the damage to the inner edge of the rim and the rim top. The burn marks were quite deep and extensive. You can see the cake in the bowl and some of the lava on the rim top. The stem had deep oxidation on the surface of the vulcanite. There were deep tooth marks on the underside of the  stem.I also took a photo of top side of the shank from two angles to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is as noted above – “MALAGA” over RAS KASSA. It is stamped on the underside of the shank with the lower case “m”.For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brand, 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. 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. If you are interested to learn more then I invite you to follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

I am also am including a link to some printed material on the Malaga brand that came to me from the daughter of George Koch to help identify the particular stamping on the pipe. The link takes you to the entire collection of materials that were sent to me. I have included a screen capture of one particular page that helps identify the RAS KASSA stamping on the pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/02/27/malaga-pipes-catalogue-of-pipes-and-tobaccos/).I have enclosed the section on the brand in a red box in the picture above. To summarize, it basically says that the stamping is applied to pipes with special rare grain patterns in the briar. These appear to be straight grain, birdseye, swirled grains etc. that are tight patterns. They are rare – 1 or 2 in every hundred pipes. This pipe is one of those. You can read the description in the detailed explanation below.

I decided to address the damage to the rim top and edges first. I topped the bowl on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged portions of the rim surface. The second photo clearly shows the extent of the damage. I continued to top the bowl until the rim damage was removed and the inner and outer edges were clean. Once the damage was removed from the top of the bowl I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inside edge of the bowl.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad to remove the grime and build up on the surface of the briar. I rinsed the bowl down with warm water to remove the grime and soap. I dried the bowl off with a soft cotton cloth to dry it off. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer with the second and third cutting head to take the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to get rid of the remnants of the cake. I finished by sanding the bowl with a dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper until the inside of the bowl was smooth. With the bowl reamed, I cleaned up the inside of the shank and mortise with a pen knife to remove the tar build up. I ran cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol through the shank to remove the tars and oils. I also cleaned out the airway in the stem using pipe cleaners and alcohol. I polished the rim and the outside of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped the bowl and shank down after each pad with a damp cloth. The photos show how the grain really stands out after polishing. I am pretty happy with the results. I worked Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it into the craving on the sides of the bowl to make sure I covered all of the grooves, nooks and crannies. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter, marks and oxidation to clean up the look of the stem. I was able to remove the majority of the damage to the stem by sanding. The photos below show the stem after sanding. There was one tooth mark on the underside of the stem that I filled with clear super glue. I set the stem aside to cure. I sanded the repairs on the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I am happy with the stem surface once that was done. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the pipe back together and polished both the bowl and the stem 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 oil cured finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The grain really stands out against the oil cured finish providing a rich contrast. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained Dublin. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This Malaga Ras Kassa Dublin will be going back to Alex to add to his rack of Malaga pipes that are in his collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on another of Alex’s Malaga collection.