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Flakes and V-Shaped Bowls

Discussion in 'Need Pipe Smoking Advice? Ask an Old Fart!' started by Morse, Nov 27, 2011.

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  1. Morse

    Morse Active Member

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    Deciding to stick to a couple of blends and try to get the hang of them Ive been smoking a lot of MacBaren VF primarily in a freehand Boswell I got a few weeks ago. The Boswell seems to have a distinctly V-shaped bowl - much narrower on the bottom than the top - the top of the chamber has almost the exact diameter as a nickel while the bottom seems about as wide as my pinkie finger. The draw hole is dead center in the bottom of the bowl. The chamber is probably 1.5" deep at most.

    It seemed initially to me that this would make a perfect flake pipe (I had heard that conical bowls were preferred for flakes) but I am having a great deal of trouble keeping the flake alight. Ive tried the fold and stuff method but that seemed to end up packing too tight once the tobacco expanded on the light. I tried rubbing out and smoked some after about 3o min and some the next day after letting it dry out. Ive tried folding and then placing the tobacco like a bunch of twigs sticking straight up in the bowl (this seemed to be the worst approach). In all cases the draw, pre-light, seemed to be quite free but none of these various methods has resulted in much success. Ive read Moos - Flake Takes thread and understand that a) this takes time and b) each flake can behave differently............oh and c) once you get the it figured out flakes are fantastic.

    BUT before I keep at this (this combo of pipe and tobacco - I'm sold on flakes) I wanted to ask if the characteristics of this bowl were potentially part of the problem. As always thanks for any advice.
     
  2. Snake

    Snake permanent ankle biter

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    A conical bowl is perfect for flakes! IMHO,
    of course. I'd suggest you rub out the flake
    after 15 minutes of drying, then wad it up
    into a ball and stuff it in the upper portion
    of the bowl. Then check the draw. If the
    draw is too tight, pull out the toby, and try
    again. This takes a bit of practice, so you
    have to have some patience when working
    with flakes, but once you land on your feet,
    it's off to the races! Or, in american terms,
    once you get the hang of it, you're off and
    running!

    So, dry it out a bit, wad it up into a ball
    (known around here as a cannonball),
    and push it into the bowl, but not too far.
    Check the draw, and fire it up!
     
  3. Smoker99

    Smoker99 Active Member

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    I am not a big fan of conical bowls. Some flake guys who fold and stuff swear by them. I rub mine out to a broken flake though, so bowl shape doesn't really make a difference. I find a moderate rub out preserves the deep flavor, but improves the burning characteristics tremendously.
     
  4. cobbsmoker

    cobbsmoker Active Member

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    Morse, I seem to have better luck smoking flake tobaccos in a U-shaped bowl like a billiard, I cannot seem to smoke anything in a V-shaped bowl to save my soul, it's still a learning process for me too! LOL
     
  5. Morse

    Morse Active Member

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    Its frustrating but at the same time a fun puzzle to solve - i do love VF once I can keep it burning!!
     
  6. Morse

    Morse Active Member

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    Thanks Snake, I will give this a shot.

    Oh and I'm bilingual I can speak English & American ;)
     
    Ol Brokedik and Snake like this.
  7. Ol Brokedik

    Ol Brokedik Active Member

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    You're not the only guy to struggle with flakes. I couldn't smoke a flake to save my life. I even bought a pipe with similar dimensions as yours. Let's both keep trying. Let's not get discouraged. Tell me if ever you figure flakes out.

    Be well.
    Ol Brokedik.
     
  8. Ol Brokedik

    Ol Brokedik Active Member

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    We Colonials are an odd bunch. It's true we speak American. Still, it's hard not to like us.

    Ol Brokedik.
     
  9. Morse

    Morse Active Member

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    Will do - I am determined to get this figured out.
     
    Ol Brokedik likes this.
  10. BradNTX

    BradNTX Well-Known Member

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    I have a couple of conical shaped bowls, and had only used them for ready rubbed or ribbon cut blends. I've read that tall narrow bowls are best for flakes, so kind of stuck with that for a while. I will say the tall, narrow bowls do work well for flakes if you fold & stuff.

    I got a wild hair a few months ago to match my favorite pipe with my favorite tobacco. A Wiley freehand I have has a large 13/16" diameter at the top and almost comes to a point at the bottom. It's also about 1.75" tall. I scrunched a Hamborger Veermaster flake into a cannonball shape and dropped it in. I rubbed out another flake pretty fine and gravity filled it on top. It burned great, and had only 2 relights from lack of attention (while gabbing).

    I've found that flakes take a little different tamping method to keep them going. They are a little stiffer, unless rubbed out really fine. I tamp a little less often with a flake than with ready rubbed, but a little more firmly. It takes a little practice. I get a little crunch when I tamp and get a familiar feeling when I need to stop. Basically, if the smoke starts to thin out, tamp a little. Don't pack it down, but crunch it a little so the cherry stays thin and wide and not tall and narrow, making for an uneven burn and frequent relights.

    Don't give up- practice makes perfect. ;)
     
    Mister Moo likes this.
  11. Mister Moo

    Mister Moo Normal Cow Moderator Moderator

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    V-shaped is "conical" in pipe parlance. I have several conical-bowled dublins and plenty more cylindrical bowls. I have good luck with both, however, the bigger conical bowls can sometimes be a little harder to light.

    1. Not to worry.
    2. Rub out some dried tabak to make things a little easier as suggested;
    3. top it with a generous layer of fine crumbs.
    4. Try a large wooden match or soft butane lighter; and
    5. puff short and quick, constantly moving the flame all around the top of the bowl until you have everything a-glow.
    6. No problem if (when) it goes out just a few moments after you get the whole top glowing. Tamp smooth, evening the top.
    7. Relight the entire top of the bowl.
    8. Smoke to ash.
    9. Finito la musica.
     
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  12. Morse

    Morse Active Member

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    Thanks Brad & Moo - searching back through the forums I realized that you have answered this question at least a couple of times before. Thanks for taking the time to do it one more time.
     
  13. Mister Moo

    Mister Moo Normal Cow Moderator Moderator

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    All questions answered and no snippy "Use the search function" remarks in the Old Farts thread. Actually, nobody at PSF is snippy about anything, anywhere, but this thread is headlined as being particularly kind to FNGs. And because we are Old Farts (some older than others) we can answer the same question over and over like it's brand new.

    We keep this sub-forum fresh by running out younger members who answer correctly, remember every darn thing and then graph it. But not for their Christmas spirit I would ban them all.
     
  14. Morse

    Morse Active Member

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    Thanks to everyone for the advice here. Tried the cannonball method with about 15 min of drying time, and lots of "kindling" on top and had a fairly good smoke. I still seem to require more relights than I would like, particularly as I get towards the bottom of the bowl, but after some practice I think this will improve. I also think that fold and stuff will work if I don't stuff too hard. Thanks again everyone.
     
    BradNTX likes this.
  15. Puff The Magic

    Puff The Magic Active Member

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    If you rubout your flakes, you can load "upside down" or "anti gravity" shown by J Fox on y-toob. Essentially it loads up an air pocket but with a bit of Frank style compression.

    Ed
    Puff
     
  16. Morse

    Morse Active Member

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    I'll have to give that a shot. I dont know why it never occured to me - thats how I pack everything else :doh:
     
  17. Puff The Magic

    Puff The Magic Active Member

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    Name of the game is experiment....see what works best for you with each leaf and bowl giving you the best smoke bar none!

    :)

    Ed
    Puff
     
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