Tag Archives: polishing a stem

Restoring a Rusticated House of Robertson Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff found an assortment of House of Robertson pipes at an auction in Wilder, Idaho which is an area in the greater Boise, Idaho area. He picked them up for us to restore. I had forgotten that I had mentioned the brand in passing in a blog on Leonard’s Pipe Shop in Portland, Oregon. Here is the link to that blog where I mention it as one of the brands that Leonard’s sold: https://rebornpipes.com/2013/06/06/leonards-pipe-shop-portland-oregon/. It is a fascinating brand that really I had never had the privilege of seeing first hand. He cleaned them all up and on a recent trip to Idaho, I picked them up and brought them back to Canada. I took pictures of the lot of them to show the wide variety of pipes that they made in terms of both size and style. The craftsmanship is very good with the fit of the stem and shank well done and the finish both rusticated and smooth exemplary. Jeff picked up three more of the brand in Pocatello, Idaho so I will be working on more of these pipes in the future. They all have the name House of Robertson roughly hand etched on the side or underside of the shank with an engraving tool. I did a bit of hunting for information about the brand and found a link on Pipedia that gave me the only information I could find on the brand. I include that in total as it is interesting to read.

“House of Robertson” was in business for many years, but alas, closed their doors in 1999. They were located in Boise, Idaho. They are noted for making rather large and interesting pipes. Thayne Robertson was a Master Mason, AF & AM, and started the shop about 1947 and his son Jon started working there in 1970 when he finished college, along with Thayne’s daughter. Thayne and his son started making the big pipes at that time, and made them together until 1987 when Thayne passed away. Jon kept the store and his sister moved on to other things. The House of Robertson appears to have closed around 1999. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Robertson

The second of the six pipes I chose to work on was rusticated Rhodesian/Bulldog shaped pipe. It is engraved with the House of Robertson signature on a smooth panel on the left side of the shank. The rusticated finish on the pipe was in good shape – just dusty and dirty. The deep grooves in the rustication were very dirty. The smooth rim cap was separated from the rusticated bowl by twin bands. It had two rusticated patches on it that match the rustication on the bowl and give the rim top an interesting look. I have circled the pipe in red in the above group photos. It is an interesting pipe. The bowl had a thin cake but it did not go all the way to the bottom of the bowl. The pipe is about a Group 5 size but it is very light weight. The stem was oxidized but did not have tooth marks or chatter on the surface. The fit of the stem to the shank was good. The vulcanite appeared to have been a pre-formed stem that was shaped to fit this pipe. The internals of the shank and stem had some tars and oils. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup. The next close-up photos show the finish on the top and the underside of the bowl. The first photo shows that the bowl had a thin cake and some slight rim darkening and lava on the rear edge of the rim top where the previous owner had repeatedly lit the pipe. The inner and outer edge of the rim looks really good. You can also see the two rusticated patches on the rim top. The finish on the rim top was in great condition. The two photos that follow the rim view show the underside of the pipe. The next photo shows the etched name on the left side of shank on a smooth panel of briar. It reads House of Robertson.The round saddle stem was oxidized and pitted from the oxidation. There were no tooth marks on the stem top or underside.Jeff out did himself on the cleanup of this pipe. He reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the thin cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. When he had finished, the bowl looks almost new on the inside (Once again I don’t think it has ever been smoked to the bottom of the bowl as it is raw briar in the bottom quarter). He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The light lava mess on the rim and the dust deep in the rustication was thoroughly removed without harming the finish underneath it. Once the grime was removed the finish actually looked to be in excellent condition I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took a photo of the rim top to show the great condition it was in after the cleanup. Jeff was able to remove all of the darkening and tar on the right side of the rim top and the back edge of the rim. The stem was clean but pitted and oxidized.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the nooks and crannies of the rusticated finish, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, worked it into the rings with a cotton swab and buffed it with a horsehair shoe brush. I wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl on the wheel with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. It really began to have a deep shine in the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation on both sides and in the angles of the saddle stem.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish –using both the Fine and Extra Fine Polishes. I gave it a rubdown with Obsidian Oil one last time and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to lightly polish the stem. I buffed the bowl with a light touch so as not to get any of the buffing compounds in the grooves of the rustication. I buffed the stem to raise the gloss on the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The medium brown stains on the rusticated Rhodesian shaped bowl with a smooth cap works well with the rich black of the vulcanite stem. The polish and the reworking of the stem material left this a beautiful and well-made pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside Diameter: 2 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 inch. This one sold before I finished it. It will soon be on its way to pipeman in Utah who has a growing collection of House of Robertson Pipes. Thanks for looking.

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Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes #8– Restemming & Restoring George Koch’s “Malaga” Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the eighth of the “Malaga” pipes that I am working on from Kathy’s Dad’s pipes. 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 – all shapes and sizes 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 “Malaga” pipes. There are some beautiful pipes in that lot. I have never seen this many “Malagas” together in one place in all of my years of pipe restoring and refurbishing. They 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.)Knowing about the pipeman who held the pipes in trust before me 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 assortment at the Malaga shop in Michigan. I may well be alone in this, but when I know about the person it is almost as if he is with me work on his pipes. In this case Kathy sent us not only information but also a photo of her Dad enjoying his “Malagas”. 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…

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 eighth of the pipes that I chose to work on is another “Malaga” Freehand. This one is a smooth pipe with a carved faux plateau top on the rim and on the shank end. It has a look that is similar to an Alpha Freehand. It had a chewed and ruined vulcanite stem. Some great grain peeks through the grime around the bowl. The warm brown finish on the bowl appeared to be good condition under the dust and tars of time. I am even more certain that Malaga pipes must have been oil cured. The uniform finish and the light weight lead me to think that is the case. Once more there are no fills in the bowl or long shank. I have yet to find a fill in any of the bowls I have worked on in this lot and looking through what remains I think it is fair to say I won’t find any in them either.

The plateau style rim top on this Freehand was originally covered and almost filled in with an overflow of lava from the thick cake in the bowl. The rim top and the inner and outer edge of the bowl were in good condition. The stamping was on the underside of the shank and was clear and read “Malaga” near the shank/stem junction. The black vulcanite stem was ruined with bite marks on the top and a large hole on the underside of the stem. It would need to be replaced. The interior of the pipe was dirty. I know that George thoroughly enjoyed his pipes 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 cake and remnants of tobacco in the bowl and the nicks on the rim top and bowl around the outer edge of the rim. 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 side and of the faux plateau on the shank end. He also took a photo of the shank to show the stamping on the underside of the shank. You can see the overall condition of the shank before cleanup.The next photos show the damage to both surfaces of the stem near the button, the worn and chewed down button and the missing underside of the stem. The stem is a write off – misshapen and ruined.Working on this eighth pipe followed the same pattern as all of these pipes. 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 bowl, 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. As noted above the stem was a write off and would need to be replaced with a suitable one. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it.    I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition it was in after the cleanup. Jeff was able to remove all of the lava on the rim top and edges. You can see the faux plateau that has been carved into the top of the rim. It is a nice looking finish. The stem was clean and you can see the tooth chatter and marks on the surface near the button and the bite through on the underside.I went through my can of scavenged stems and found one that was suitable for a replacement for this chewed Freehand stem. It was similar in terms of shape and less than a ¼ inch shorter than the chewed through original. Once it was cleaned up it would work nicely. The tenon was very close to the right size which was a bonus. I took photos of the replacement stem to show the condition it was in. It was lightly oxidized and had some light tooth chatter and dents. I painted the surface of the stem with the flame from a Bic lighter to heat and lift the dents in the vulcanite. This is one of those times that I am glad vulcanite has memory. The marks lifted to the surface and a bit of sanding would smooth things out.There was a nick out of the top of the button on the inner left side. I filled it in with a drop of clear superglue. Once it was dry I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the rest of the stem at the same time and removed some of the oxidation on the surface.Finally I had a pipe to restem that was quite easy. The only thing I did was smooth out the tenon and then build it up with a light coat of clear nail polish. When the coat dried I put the stem in the pipe and took the following photos to show the progress. I kind of like the look of the stem. It works with the pipe quite well. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar and particularly the reshaped areas. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I cleaned out the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. This replacement stem was in far better condition than some of the others I have been using. It did not take much scrubbing  before the airway was clean.I polished the stem 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 pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. You may have noticed the roughness of the tenon in the above photos. It is smoother than it looks but I polished it some more to finish it for the final photos.I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. 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. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the eighth of the many “Malaga” pipes 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. This one is heading to India to a pipeman there who will carry on the trust from her father. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, 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.

Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes #7– Restemming &Restoring George Koch’s “Malaga” Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the sixth of the “Malaga” pipes that I am working on from Kathy’s Dad’s pipes. For those of you who have not read the other blogs let me tell the story. 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 – all shapes and sizes 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 “Malaga” pipes. There are some beautiful pipes in that lot. I have never seen this many “Malagas” together in one place in all of my years of pipe restoring and refurbishing. They varied from having almost pristine to gnawed and damaged stems that will need to be replaced. Many of the pipes already had replacement stems or maybe George had the staff at the Malaga shop in Michigan put Lucite stems on them because he was such a gnawer. I don’t know if we will ever know the answer to that as Kathy did not know for sure. She did know though that he loved the brand and that most of the pipes he smoked he purchased from the shop. 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.) Knowing about the pipeman who held the pipes in trust before me 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 assortment at the Malaga shop in Michigan. I may well be alone in this, but when I know about the person it is almost as if he is with me work on his pipes. In this case Kathy sent us not only information but also a photo of her Dad enjoying his “Malagas”. 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…

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 seventh of the pipes that I chose to work on is another “Malaga” Canadian. This one is a smooth pipe with a flat bottom so that it is a sitter. It had a chewed and ruined vulcanite stem. Some great grain peeks through the grime around the bowl. The warm brown finish on the bowl appeared to be good condition under the dust and tars of time. I am pretty certain that Malaga pipes must have been oil cured. The uniform finish and the light weight lead me to think that is the case. Once more there are no fills in the bowl or long shank. I have yet to find a fill in any of the bowls I have worked on in this lot and looking through what remains I think it is fair to say I won’t find any in them either.

The rim top on this Canadian was originally smooth and flat but it was covered with an overflow of lava from the thick cake in the bowl. The rim top at the back of the bowl was more thickly caked than the front. The rim top, along with the inner and outer edge of the bowl was heavily damaged. There were some nicks and rounding of the outer edge and there was some darkening on the inner edge. The bowl was out of round from previous reaming. The rim top and outer edge showed signs of being knocked against a hard surface to empty the dottle from the bowl. The stamping on the topside of the shank was clear and read “Malaga” and on the flat underside it read Imported Briar. There were no shape numbers on the pipe. The black Lucite stem was ruined with bite marks on the top and a long slice on the underside of the stem. It would need to be replaced. The interior of the pipe was dirty. I know that George thoroughly enjoyed his pipes 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 cake and remnants of tobacco in the bowl and the nicks on the rim top and bowl around the outer edge of the rim. The second rim top photo shows the damage on the front edge of the rim. It is dirty but in otherwise good condition. He also took photos of the sides and underside of the bowl and shank. He also took a photo of both sides of the shank to show the stamping on both the topside and the underside. You can see the overall condition of the shank before cleanup.The next photo shows the fit of the stem against the shank. The stem was obviously a replacement and was poorly fit. The second and third photo shows the damage to both surfaces of the stem near the button, the worn and chewed down button and the missing underside of the stem. The stem is a write off – misshapen and ruined.Working on this seventh pipe followed pretty much the same pattern as all of these pipes. 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 bowl, 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. The slight bevel to the rim was visible once the pipe was clean. Without the grime the finish looked really good. As noted above the stem was a write off and would need to be replaced with a suitable one. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it.   I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition it was in after the cleanup. Jeff was able to remove all of the lava on the rim top and edges. There is still some darkening on the rim top. You can see the damage on the top itself and around the outer edges from knocking out the pipe on a hard surface. The inner edge of the bowl had a lot of nicks and cuts and was out of round. The stem was clean and you can see the tooth chatter and marks on the surface near the button and the large deeper tooth mark on the underside.I went through my can of extra stems and found one that was suitable for a replacement on this Canadian. It was the same shape and size as the replacement that had been chewed through. Once it was cleaned up it would work nicely. The tenon was the right size which was a bonus. I put the stem on the shank and took the following photos. This is the part of restemming that is always a challenge. Like the sixth pipe I finished a bit ago it needed to be shaped. The new oval stem is always slightly off because the shank is never truly oval or round. Either the shank needs to be taken down slightly to accommodate the fit of the new stem or the stem needs to be taken down to meet the shank. In this case you can see from the following photos that the stem was a poor fit on the sides while the top and the underside of the shank were very close. In the photo of the top side you can see that it is slightly smaller. That tells you that the shank is not perfectly oval and adjustments will need to be made.I sanded off all of the calcification on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and cleaned up the area around the button edge. I sanded the surface of the button to reshape it on both the top and underside.I decided to work over the rim top next. I topped the bowl to remove the damaged areas on the top of the rim and minimize the damage to the inner and outer edges. Once that was finished there was still some damage to the rim from previous reaming and lighting. I took care of it by reshaping the bevel and the inner and outer edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove all of the damage to the rim surface and reshape both then inner and outer edge of the rim. The gentle bevel that was originally present was restored. With the rim reshaped I turned my attention to fitting the stem to the shank. I carefully sanded the shank to reduce the diameter to match the stem. It was interesting that most of the work had to be done on the sides of the shank with a little on the top and bottom. In essence I made the shank more oval to match the stem. The photos below show the fit of the new stem at this point. I sanded the rim top repairs and the stem/shank junction with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to make sure that the scratching was reduces but more importantly that the transition at the shank and stem was smooth and flowing. It is easy to create issues with a folded piece of sandpaper (in terms of dips in the briar or vulcanite) because the two mediums have different hardness. The sanding sponge minimizes that for me. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar and particularly the reshaped areas. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I cleaned out the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. It took a bit of scrubbing but before too long the airway was clean.I polished the stem 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 pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the brass and the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. 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. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the seventh of the many “Malaga” pipes 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. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store very soon. It should make a nice addition to the next pipeman’s rack and in purchasing it you can carry on the trust from her father. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 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.

 

Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes #6– Restemming &Restoring George Koch’s “Malaga” Carved Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the sixth of the “Malaga” pipes that I am working on from Kathy’s Dad’s pipes. For those of you who have not read the other blogs let me tell the story. 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 – all shapes and sizes 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 “Malaga” pipes. There are some beautiful pipes in that lot. I have never seen this many “Malagas” together in one place in all of my years of pipe restoring and refurbishing. They varied from having almost pristine to gnawed and damaged stems that will need to be replaced. Many of the pipes already had replacement stems or maybe George had the staff at the Malaga shop in Michigan put Lucite stems on them because he was such a gnawer. I don’t know if we will ever know the answer to that as Kathy did not know for sure. She did know though that he loved the brand and that most of the pipes he smoked he purchased from the shop. 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.)Knowing about the pipeman who held the pipes in trust before me 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 assortment at the Malaga shop in Michigan. I may well be alone in this, but when I know about the person it is almost as if he is with me work on his pipes. In this case Kathy sent us not only information but also a photo of her Dad enjoying his “Malagas”. 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…

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 sixth of the pipes that I chose to work on is a “Malaga” Carved Canadian with some different rustication. There are trails around the pipe and the top of the shank is rusticated in an unusual and interesting pattern. It had a chewed and ruined vulcanite stem. Some great grain peeks through the grime between the trails carved around the bowl. The warm brown finish on the bowl appeared to be good condition under the dust and tars of time. I am pretty certain that Malaga pipes must have been oil cured. The uniform finish and the light weight lead me to think that is the case. Once more there are no fills in the bowl or long shank. I have yet to find a fill in any of the bowls I have worked on in this lot and looking through what remains I think it is fair to say I won’t find any in them either.

The rim top on this Canadian was lightly beveled inward and was covered with an overflow of lava from the thick cake in the bowl. The bevel was almost invisible. The rim top at the back of the bowl was more thickly caked than the front.  The rim top along with the inner and outer edge of the bowl was damaged. There were some nicks on the outer edge and there was some darkening on the inner edge. The bowl was out of round from previous reaming. The rim top and outer edge showed signs of being knocked against a hard surface to empty the dottle from the bowl. The stamping on the underside of the shank was clear and read “Malaga” near the stem/shank junction. There were no shape numbers on the pipe. The black vulcanite stem was ruined with bite marks on the top and a major portion of the underside of the stem missing. It would need to be replaced. The interior of the pipe was dirty. I know that George thoroughly enjoyed his pipes 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 cake in the bowl and the nicks on the rim top and bowl around the outer edge of the rim. It is dirty but in otherwise good condition. He also took a photo of the sides and underside of the bowl and shank. He also took a photo of both sides of the shank to show the rustication pattern on the topside and the stamping on the underside. You can see the overall condition of the shank before cleanup.The next photo shows the damage to both surfaces of the stem near the button, the worn and chewed down button and the missing underside of the stem. The stem is a write off – misshapen and ruined.Working on this sixth pipe followed pretty much the same pattern as all of these pipes. 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 bowl, 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. The slight bevel to the rim was visible once the pipe was clean. Without the grime the finish looked really good. As noted above the stem was a write off and would need to be replaced with a suitable one. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it.   I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition it was in after the cleanup. Jeff was able to remove all of the lava on the rim top and edges. There is still some darkening on the rim top. You can see the damage on the top itself and around the outer edges from knocking out the pipe on a hard surface. The inner edge of the bowl had a lot of nicks and cuts and was out of round. The stem was clean and you can see the tooth chatter and marks on the surface near the button and the large deeper tooth mark on the underside.I went through my can of extra stems and found one that was suitable for a replacement on this Canadian. It was the same shape and size as the replacement that had been chewed through. Once it was cleaned up it would work nicely. The tenon was the right size which was a bonus. I put the stem on the shank and took the following photos. This is the part of restemming that is always a challenge. The new stem is always slightly off because the shank is never truly oval or round. Either the shank needs to be taken down slightly to accommodate the fit of the new stem or the stem needs to be taken down to meet the shank. In this case you can see from the following photos that the stem fit the underside of the shank perfectly. In the photo of the top side you can see that it is slightly smaller. That tells you that the shank is not perfectly oval and adjustments will need to be made.I sanded off all of the calcification on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and cleaned up the area around the button edge. I sanded the surface of the button to reshape it on both the top and underside.I decided to work over the rim top, reshaping the bevel and the inner and outer edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove all of the damage to the rim surface and reshape the inner edge of the rim. The rounded flowing bevel that was originally present was restored.With the rim reshaped I turned my attention to fitting the stem to the shank. I carefully sanded the shank to reduce the diameter to match the stem. It was interesting that most of the work had to be done on the sides of the shank with a little on the top and bottom. In essence I made the shank more oval to match the stem. The photos below show the fit of the new stem at this point. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the nooks and crannies of the rustication paths and patches as well as the smooth areas. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I cleaned out the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. It took a bit of scrubbing but before too long the airway was clean.I polished the stem 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 pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the brass and the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. 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. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the sixth of the many “Malaga” pipes 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. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store very soon. It should make a nice addition to the next pipeman’s rack and in purchasing it you can carry on the trust from her father. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 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.

Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes #5 – Restemming &Restoring George Koch’s “Malaga” Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the fifth of the “Malaga” pipes that I am working on from Kathy’s Dad’s pipes. For those of you who have not read the other blogs let me tell the story. 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 – all shapes and sizes 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 “Malaga” pipes. There are some beautiful pipes in that lot. I have never seen this many “Malagas” together in one place in all of my years of pipe restoring and refurbishing. They varied from having almost pristine to gnawed and damaged stems that will need to be replaced. Many of the pipes already had replacement stems or maybe George had the staff at the Malaga shop in Michigan put Lucite stems on them because he was such a gnawer. I don’t know if we will ever know the answer to that as Kathy did not know for sure. She did know though that he loved the brand and that most of the pipes he smoked he purchased from the shop. 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.)Knowing about the pipeman who held the pipes in trust before me 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 assortment at the Malaga Pipe Shop in Michigan. I may well be alone in this, but when I know about the person it is almost as if he is with me work on his pipes. In this case Kathy sent us not only information but also a photo of her Dad enjoying his “Malagas”. 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…

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 fifth of the pipes that I chose to work on is a “Malaga” Canadian with a tall almost chimney like bowl. It was one the lot with a chewed and ruined vulcanite stem. But it is another beautiful piece of briar underneath the grime and debris of the years. The warm brown finish on the bowl appeared to be good condition under the dust and tars of time. The more I work on these the more I think that Malaga pipes must have been oil cured as they are very light weight and the finishes are uniformly well done. I have yet to find a fill in any of the bowls I have worked on in this lot and looking through what remains I think it is fair to say I won’t find any in them either.

The rim top on the tall Canadian was covered with an overflow of lava from the thick cake in the bowl. The rim top at the back of the bowl was more thickly caked than the front.  The inner and outer edge of the bowl had damage. There were some nicks on the outer edge and there was some darkening on the inner edge. The bowl was out of round from previous reaming. The rim top and outer edge showed signs of being knocked against a hard surface to empty the dottle from the bowl. The stamping on the top of the shank was clear and read “Malaga” and Imported Briar on the underside. There were no shape numbers on the pipe. The black vulcanite stem was ruined with bite marks all the way through on both the top and underside at the button. It would need to be replaced. The interior of the pipe was dirty. I know that George thoroughly enjoyed his pipes 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 cake in the bowl and the nicks on the rim top and bowl around the outer edge of the rim. It is dirty but in otherwise good condition. He also took a photo of the sides of the bowl. He also took a photo of both sides of the shank to show the stamping and the condition of the overall shank so you could have an idea of where things were at before he cleaned it up.The next photo shows the damage to both surface of the stem near the button and the worn and chewed down button. The stem is a write off on this one. The bite marks go all the way through and leave the stem misshapen and ruined. Working on this fifth pipe was pretty straightforward because Jeff had done all the hard cleanup work on the briar inside and out. He 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, 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. As noted above the stem was a write off and would need to be replaced with a suitable one. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition it was in after the cleanup. Jeff was able to remove all of the lava on the rim top and edges. There is still some darkening on the rim top. You can see the damage on the top itself and around the outer edges from knocking out the pipe on a hard surface. The inner edge of the bowl had a lot of nicks and cuts and was out of round. The stem was clean and you can see the tooth chatter and marks on the surface near the button and the large deeper tooth mark on the underside.I went through my can of extra stems and found one that was suitable for a replacement on this Canadian. It was a bit shorter than the replacement that had been chewed through.  It also had an ornamental brass ring over the end of the tenon and anchored to the stem. The tenon was the right diameter for the shank so it was a simple matter of cleaning up the tenon and fitting it on the shank. I took photos of the pipe with the new stem. The brass band was going to look really good once it was polished. I also like the shorter stem on the pipe as it looks more like the classic Canadian it was when it was sold. I took some close up photos of the new stem to show the fit to the shank. The stem is looking really good. It will need to be thoroughly cleaned and polished but it shows promise.I sanded off all of the calcification on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and cleaned up the area around the button edge. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of this part of the process. There was no tooth chatter on either side which was a plus. There was some oxidation and the brass spacer at the stem/shank junction was oxidized. I sanded the surface of the button to reshape it on both the top and underside. I cleaned out the airway and the slot in the button with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I used a dental pick to clean out the corners of the slot.I polished the stem 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 pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the brass and the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I lightly topped the bowl on my topping board using 220 grit sandpaper. It did not take too much work to remove the nicks and damage to the rim top and edges. Once it was complete I topped it on a medium grit sanding sponge to smooth the surface even more.I sanded the inside edge of the rim to minimize the damage and bring the bowl back to round. I gave it a slight bevel that made the darkening on the inside edge less visible.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the pores and grain of the smooth finish as well as to enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl 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. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the fifth of the many “Malaga” pipes 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. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store very soon. It should make a nice addition to the next pipeman’s rack and in purchasing it you can carry on the trust from her father. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 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.

Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes #4 – Restoring George Koch’s “Malaga” Unique


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the fourth of the “Malaga” pipes that I am working on from Kathy’s Dad’s pipes. For those of you who have not read the other blogs let me tell the story. 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 – all shapes and sizes 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 “Malaga” pipes. There are some beautiful pipes in that lot. I have never seen this many “Malagas” together in one place in all of my years of pipe restoring and refurbishing. They varied from having almost pristine to gnawed and damaged stems that will need to be replaced. Many of the pipes already had replacement stems or maybe George had the staff at the Malaga shop in Michigan put Lucite stems on them because he was such a gnawer. I don’t know if we will ever know the answer to that as Kathy did not know for sure. She did know though that he loved the brand and that most of the pipes he smoked he purchased from the shop. 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.)Knowing about the pipeman who held the pipes in trust before me 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 assortment at the Malaga shop in Michigan. I may well be alone in this, but when I know about the person it is almost as if he is with me work on his pipes. In this case Kathy sent us not only information but also a photo of her Dad enjoying his “Malagas”. 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…

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 fourth of the pipes that I chose to work on is a “Malaga” Unique shape with a swirled brown acrylic stem. Some might call it a skater but it is not quite that. Others may have another idea but I have no clue what to call this shape. But it is another beautiful pipe underneath the grime and debris of the years. The warm brown finish on the bowl appeared to be good condition under the dust and tars of time. The more I work on these the more I think that Malagas must have been oil cured as they are very light weight and the finishes are uniformly well done. I have yet to find a fill in any of the bowls I have worked on in this lot and looking through what remains I think it is fair to say I won’t find any in them either. The rim top on the unique was covered with an overflow of lava from the cake in the bowl. The inner and outer edge of the bowl had damage. There were some nicks on the outer edge and there was some darkening on the inner edge. The bowl was out of round from previous reaming. The rim top and outer edge showed signs of being knocked against a hard surface to empty the dottle from the bowl. The stamping on the left side of the shank was clear and read “Malaga” and Imported Briar on the right side. There were no shape numbers on the pipe. The acrylic brown coloured stem fit the shank quite well and had some really interesting swirls around the stem. There was tooth chatter and marks on both sides at the button and one deep tooth mark on the underside near the button. The interior of the pipe was dirty. I know that George thoroughly enjoyed his pipes as is evidenced by the use that all of them how. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. He 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, the cake in the bowl and the nicks on the rim top and bowl around the outer edge of the rim. It is dirty but in otherwise good condition. He also took a photo of the sides of the bowl and the underside of the bowl and shank. He also took a photo of both sides of the shank to show the stamping and the condition of the overall shank so you could have an idea of where things were at before he cleaned it up.The next photo shows the colour of the stem material with all of the swirls browns and copper colours that make the acrylic stem quite beautiful. The nicks in the surface, the tooth chatter on the stem top and underside as well as the button and the deep tooth mark on the underside of the stem can be seen in the photos that follow.Working on this fourth pipe was pretty straightforward because Jeff had done all the hard cleanup work on the briar inside and out. He 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, 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. Once the grime was removed the finish actually looked it was in excellent condition. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. It really has some nice birdseye grain on the right side of the bowl and shank. I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition it was in after the cleanup. Jeff was able to remove all of the lava on the rim top and edges. There is still some darkening on the rim top. You can see the damage on the top itself and around the outer edges from knocking out the pipe on a hard surface. The inner edge of the bowl had a lot of nicks and cuts and was out of round. The stem was clean and you can see the tooth chatter and marks on the surface near the button and the large deeper tooth mark on the underside.I sanded out the tooth chatter and worked to reduce the size and impact of the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth and blend them into the surface of the rest of the stem. I sanded the surface of the button to remove the marks on the top and underside. There was a small tooth mark remaining on the top of the stem and the one on the underside is visible and is repairable at this point. I sanded the inside of the tooth mark to rough it up, wiped it down with alcohol on a cotton pad and filled in the divot with clear super glue. I set the stem aside to let the glue cure and worked on another pipe. When the glue had hardened I used a needle file to recut and straighten out the button edge on both sides of the stem. I touched up the small air bubbles that had formed in the super glue with a small drop of glue on each side.When that glue had cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the acrylic. I worked on it until the repair was basically invisible.I polished the stem 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 pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I lightly topped the bowl on my topping board using 220 grit sandpaper. It did not take too much work to remove the nicks and damage to the rim top and edges. Once it was complete I topped it on a medium grit sanding sponge to smooth the surface even more.I sanded the inside edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper to minimize the damage and bring the bowl back to round. I gave it a slight bevel that made the darkening on the inside edge less visible.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the pores and grain of the smooth finish as well as to enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I put the stem back on the pipe and buffed it with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl 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. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the fourth of the many “Malaga” pipes 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. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store very soon. It should make a nice addition to the next pipeman’s rack and in purchasing it you can carry on the trust from her father. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 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.

Farida’s Dad’s Pipes #3 – Restoring a Savinelli Autograph 4


Blog by Steve Laug

The next collection of pipes that I am working on comes from the estate of an elderly gentleman here in Vancouver. I met with his daughter Farida last summer and we looked at his pipes and talked about them then. Over the Christmas holiday she brought them by for me to work on, restore and then sell for her. There are 10 pipes in all – 7 Dunhills (one of them, a Shell Bulldog, has a burned out bowl), 2 Charatans, and a Savinelli Autograph. His pipes are worn and dirty and for some folks they have a lot of damage and wear that reduce their value. To me each one tells a story. I only wish they could speak and talk about the travels they have had with Farida’s Dad.

When I wrote the blog on the Classic Series Dunhill and thinking about its travels, Farida sent me an email with a short write up on her Dad. She remembered that I had asked her for it so that I could have a sense of the stories of her Dad’s pipes. Here is what she wrote: My dad, John Barber, loved his pipes. He was a huge fan of Dunhill and his favourite smoke was St. Bruno. No one ever complained of the smell of St. Bruno, we all loved it. I see the bowls and they’re large because he had big hands. When he was finished with his couple of puffs, he would grasp the bowl in the palm of his hand, holding the warmth as the embers faded. The rough bowled pipes were for daytime and especially if he was fixing something. The smooth bowled pipes were for an evening with a glass of brandy and a good movie. In his 20s, he was an adventurer travelling the world on ships as their radio operator. He spent a year in the Antarctic, a year in the Arctic and stopped in most ports in all the other continents. He immigrated to Canada in the mid-fifties, working on the BC Ferries earning money to pay for his education. He graduated from UBC as an engineer and spent the rest of his working life as a consultant, mostly to the mining companies. Whatever he was doing though, his pipe was always close by. 

She sent along this photo of him with his sled dogs in the Antarctic sometime in 1953-1954. It is a fascinating photo showing him with a pipe in his mouth. He is happily rough housing with his dogs. As a true pipeman the cold does not seem to bother him at all.Thank you Farida for sending the photo and the background story on your Dad for me to use on the blog. I find that it really explains a lot about their condition and gives me a sense of who Dad was. If your Dad was rarely without a pipe I can certainly tell which pipes were his favourites. As I looked over the pipes I noted that each of them had extensive rim damage and some had deeply burned gouges in the rim tops. The bowls seemed to have been reamed not too long ago because they did not show the amount of cake I would have expected. The stems were all covered with deep tooth marks and chatter and were oxidized and dirty. The internals of the mortise, the airway in the shank and stem were filled with tars and oils. These were nice looking pipes when her Dad bought them and they would be nice looking one more when I finished.

I finished two of the pipes and have written a blog on each of them. The first one was the Dunhill Shell with the oval shank pot (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/04/restoring-a-1983-dunhill-shell-41009-oval-shank-pot/) and the second was the Dunhill Classic Series Shell Billiard (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/08/faridas-dads-pipes-2-restoring-a-1990-lbs-classic-series-dunhill-shell-billiard/).

I wanted a break from the Dunhills for a bit today so I chose to work on the Savinelli Autograph as the third pipe in the estate. It is a beautiful pipe with interesting grain shows through the sandblast. The blast itself is very nice but underneath the grime you can see the next layer of grain showing through. It is a large pipe and stamped Savinelli Autograph on a smooth band on the underside. Next to that it reads Italy and a number 4. The grooves and valleys in the sandblast were filled in with grime and debris and even flecks of white paint. The bowl was thickly caked and the cake had flowed over onto the right and backside of the rim top forming a hard lava in the grooves on the rim. The inner and outer edges of the rim look to be undamaged. I am so happy that there was no heavy burning or charring on the rim top from repeated lighting. I am thinking that this was one of his newer pipes. I think also that the weight of the pipe kept him from clenching it and damaging both the stem and the rim. The stem had the characteristic twists and grooves in the vulcanite that is on the original Autograph. It has the squiggle signature or autograph of Achille Savinelli Senior on the top of the stem. It is quite heavily oxidized and has some calcification at the end. There is tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem near the button and on the top and underside of the button. I took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before I started the cleanup work. I took close up photos of the rim top and the stem. You can see from the photo the thick cake in the bowl overflowing lava onto the rim top. It is hard to know what lies underneath both the lava and the cake until it is removed. The stem has tooth chatter and some deep bite marks on the top edge of the button and a deep tooth mark on the underside of the stem just ahead of the button. There is a lot of calcification and wear on the rest of the stem as well. The Autograph logo is faint and worn but it is present.I reread the blog I did on a previous Savinelli Autograph 4 to refresh my memory about the line and the stamping on the pipe. Here is the link to that blog: https://rebornpipes.com/tag/savinelli-autograph-4-pipes/. I have included some of the pertinent information on the brand to this blog for ease of reference.

The Pipes and Cigars website http://www.pipesandcigars.com/pipes/73592/savinelli-autograph-pipes/ says that: “Savinelli Autographs are as individual as your fingerprints. Each is the dream of an expert pipe maker realized in briar and personally selected by Giancarlo Savinelli. Every Autograph is 100% ‘Hand made’ using only the highest grade of Sardinian and Corsican Briar Plateau blocks. Well grained briar, worthy of becoming an Autograph is rare and therefore, these beautiful masterpieces are very limited and coveted by pipe smokers worldwide. Truly an achievement to be treasured, Autographs are available in smooth, paneled, sandblasted brown or black.”

On the Savinelli website it says that Autographs are (http://www.savinelli.it/en/autograph-lisciaAuto1)“This rare, unique and irreplaceable pipe is shaped from the raw material following the grain and the “fiammatura” (“flame”), which Mother Nature has put at our disposal, according to the artistic mood of our master craftsmen. The wood is natural and the shape is unique for each piece. The name “Autograph” was created from the handwritten signature of Achille Savinelli Senior printed on the mouthpiece. These pipes are graded according to very strict parameters: the 0 (zero) category goes from 000, an outstanding masterpiece, to 00 and then 0. The grading then goes down to 8, 6, 5, 4 and 3.”

Like the previous Autograph I restored this one is also stamped with a 4 making it a 4 Grade pipe. It has a sandblasted brown finish with no smooth panels. The grain is pretty stunning and the blast is nicely done. I took the stem off the pipe and put it in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak while I worked on the bowl. I generally let them soak in the bath overnight as I tend to work on the pipes in the evening after work.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and I had to use three of the four cutting heads to clean out the cake. The bowl is somewhat conical in shape so I started with the largest of the three and worked my way down to the base of the bowl with the smallest. I took back the cake to bare briar. I cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife (seems fitting to use this on the pipe). I took a photo of the cleaned bowl. I scrubbed the surface of the sandblast with a tooth brush to clean out all of the dust. I worked on the top of the rim with a brass bristle wire brush and a brass bristle polishing brush to remove the lava on the rim. I used the brass bristle brush to remove the flecks of white paint on the surface of the bowl as well. I rinsed it under warm running water to remove the dirt, grime and soap. I dried off the bowl with a soft rag. Once the Murphy’s Oil Soap has done its thing and the briar has dried it is dull and lifeless looking. It is clean but it is not attractive. Some folks stain the briar at this point to bring life back and add some colour. I have been using Before & After Restoration Balm to do that work and I like the end result. I rub the balm into the briar with the tips of my fingers making sure that I work it into all of the valleys and crevices. I use a horsehair shoe brush to work over the surface once I have it covered by hand. The bristles of the brush go deep into the grooves where even the finger tips cannot reach. When it has dried for a little while, I polish it with the shoe brush and then with a coarse towel. I took photos of the bowl after this work. I am so used to Jeff cleaning the pipe that I realized at this point that I had not worked on the internals of the pipe. I looked down the shank and it was filthy as was to be expected. Arghhh. Got to get back in the habit/routine if I am going to clean and restore them. I scraped the hardened tars on the walls of the mortise with a pen knife. I cleaned the mortise and the airway in the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was clean. I let the stem soak in the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer over night and in the morning took it out and wiped it down. It looked like the photos below so I put it in for 4 more hours and it still came out looking like the photos below. This one will be a bit of work to clean up.I wiped the stem down with some of the pipe polish and it was better but still quite oxidized in the grooves. The underside looked quite good. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol and it eventually came out clean.I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth dents in the underside of the stem. It took a few swaths of the lighter and the dents lifted. There was only one small pin prick left next to the button that would need to be repaired.I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation, carefully avoiding the signature mark on the top of the stem. I rolled a piece of sandpaper and worked the grooves in the stem until the oxidation was removed.I polished the stem, carefully protecting the Autograph on the topside from further damage. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish, using both the Fine and Extra Fine polishes to further protect and polish out the scratches. When I finished with those I gave it a final rub down with the oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a more aggressive buff of Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl several 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. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the third of Farida’s Dad’s pipes that I am restoring from his collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Farida thinks once she sees the finished pipe on the blog. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store very soon. It should make a nice addition to your pipe rack if you love the large signature Savinelli Autograph line. When you add it to your collection you carry on the trust from her father. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this estate Autograph. More of his pipes will follow including some Charatans and more Dunhills.