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My first pipe! Brigham 265. Need advice! What did I do wrong?

Discussion in 'Pipes' started by DarkSky, Aug 24, 2010.

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  1. DarkSky

    DarkSky Member

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    Aug 24, 2010
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    With cigars opening up a whole new world to me - the world of tobacco that actually TASTES GOOD (me being an occasional cigarette smoker), I decided to broaden my horizon once again and delve into the world of pipes and pipe tobacco.

    I can always remember as a kid, my uncle smoking a pipe and absolutely LOVED the aroma coming off of it. Sweet smoke, like the smell of something really really good cooking in grandma's oven.

    So after doing days upon days of research on youTube and web sites about pipes, I ran down to a local B&M shop today and picked one up. I initially had my mind SET on a Peterson.. but all they had at the shop (aside from cheapies) were a brand called "Brigham". I picked up a "Brigham 265", although there were other nice ones to choose from as well. And some online stores in my area carry some VERY nice ones. But this being my first, I didn't want to go all out.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find out they're a Canadian company (me being a patriotic canuck myself) when I got home and read up about them.

    I had some problems smoking it the first time - I didn't think it was rocket science, but something I did was wrong, giving it a bitter taste on the tongue, absolutely NO flavor on the palette, and little through the nose. Although one thing I like about pipe tobacco is that it's so mild (at least this "Mr. B's Vanilla Maple" is) that you can continually exhale through the nose, with no spice/pepper whatsoever). Something you can't do with cigars (but of course with cigars, you get the strong taste on your palette)

    The first thing I did wrong as I just found out, is wiping the stem down with Purell (which has alcohol). I didn't know who's mouths had been on it in the store as people looked at them, even though the clerk told me not to put my mouth to it (not that I would have anyway) but I'm not sure if all previous customers heeded his words. So to be safe I wiped the stem down with Purell and found out later, that alcohol can bring the sulfur in the stem up to the surface. This is probably what happened because it instantly got discoloured to a yellowy-brownish, and got a VERY bitter taste to it when I put it to my lips before lighting. Hopefully this will go away in time.

    I read that with a new bowl, not to fill it up. Fill it half way and burn it slowly as to not burn the new bowl. I put in about 3 pinches. The first being just dropped to the bottom, the 2nd being pushed just a little, and the 3rd pushed a little more. But upon lightning, it was an absolute wind tunnel. There was no resistance whatsoever when taking a draw, and absolutely no flavor either. I was hoping for a nice big mouthful of creamy smoke, but got nothing but flavorless smoke. Not a bad flavor - just NO flavor.

    I'm guessing I didn't pack it down tight enough into the bowl ??

    I lit the top, took a few small draws, tampered it down level, and it burned fine. It didn't need relighting until it was down towards the bottom. But it was an absolute wind tunnel with no flavor the entire time. The only flavor I had was the acrid bitterness of the stem.

    What did I do wrong?

    Anyway, without further ado.. here's my first pipe, a Brigham 265 :

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  2. Longrifle3006

    Longrifle3006 Member

    Joined:
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    not that I'm the resident expert or anything but..

    First, the lighter in the picture may be fine for cigars, but I'd avoid using it on a briar pipe. The flame is way too hot for the briar. Go with a disposable butane like a Bic or similar if you don't wanna spend more money, but look for a soft candle flame, not a torch. Some here swear by Zippo pipe lighters too, and wooden matches are always an option.

    Second, most people here use Everclear or 151 rum to sanitize pipes and stems, potable and not as nasty tasting as Purell.

    Third, look on Youtube for videos explaining the proper way to load a pipe, this is one of the trickiest skills for beginners.

    Last, welcome to the brotherhood of the briar, may you have a long and happy fellowship.
     
  3. thomas

    thomas Member

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    Jun 7, 2010
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    Welcome!

    I agree with Phil 100%. As far as the wind tunnel draw goes, as an avid cigar enthusiast myself it is important to understand that pipes have a VERY loose draw compared to many (though not all) cigars.

    The flavor MAY be related to the tobacco you purchased, especially if you are accustomed to smoking a full bodied cigar.

    Things will improve the more you smoke!

    -Thomas
     
  4. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    8,384
    If you wax up that stem, it won't taste so crappy. Smoking that kind of tobacco, if you get it too hot, you'll taste nothing, and if you are coming from cigars, it may just taste like nothing anyhow.

    I'd suggest you go back to the B+M and ask for an English mixture. That'll taste like something at any rate.

    What shop is that/where are ya?
     
  5. DarkSky

    DarkSky Member

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    Actually it's a dual-function lighter. It has a knob which allows air into the flow - when it's open, it's a jet, when it's closed, it's the exact same as your everyday Bic lighter. I use the jet for my cigars, and the 'docile' flame for the pipe :)

    Yah it wasn't the Purell that tasted bad. It was the reaction the stem had to cleaning it with the alcohol in the Purell. It seems better now though. But I think maybe a rubdown of kleenex + olive oil or PAM might be good... (I have no wax)

    Yep... as I explained in my msg, I did it by progressively packing harder with each addition, and only filling about half way for the first time using it. I'm guessing it just needs to be packed tighter.

    THanks!!!
     
  6. DarkSky

    DarkSky Member

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    Yah I think that's what I was hoping for. Nice copious amounts of creamy rich smoke laden with flavour. Although I think the tobacco I was given (due to suggestion of the clerk) is mild to begin with. He KNOWS I'm a cigar smoker so I don't know why he would have suggested a weak tasting pipe tobacco. Anyway, I'll stuff the bowl next time and see how-goes.

    I think the next type I'll try is a non-aromatic tobacco. Something that I can really get more of a full tobacco flavor from.

    It's just a small cigar/tobacco/variety store type place, but the guy is very knowledged. He apparently had his biz in Toronto for decades but moved to my area for cheaper rent/taxes on his shop. He says most of his long-time clientele don't mind doing the drive to keep going to him.

    I'm in the southern Ontario region (Canada).
     
  7. Jack Karneval

    Jack Karneval Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2010
    Messages:
    32
    Hey DarkSky, welcome!

    I recently started smoking a pipe, and am also fairly new to these forums. You will undoubtedly find a lot of useful information here, and also people willing to help you, as you have probably noticed. I have found PSF to be a great place, and in a way it helps me to enjoy pipe smoking even more to know that I am part of a community that shares my hobby!

    Anyway, as I am also new to pipe smoking and definitely not an expert, but the best advice I can give you, as someone who has also shared your experiences, is to just keep at it. You will eventually find a technique that works for you, and soon you will be enjoying your pipe!

    Also, say, that's a nice pipe!
     
  8. DarkSky

    DarkSky Member

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    Thanks Jack! (for the welcome and the pipe comment :)) Apparently the Brighams have a quality rating according to how many dots are on the stem part of the bowl. What the difference is between a 5-dot and a 1-dot I have no idea. It's a wooden bowl with a hole in it for crying out loud :) The one I got is a 2-dotter. Each dot added about $10 to the price, with about a $49 baseline. (so a 5-dot would have been $99 Cdn).

    The thing I like about it, is that it has a wooden 'filter' (it's not a filter - it's an INSERT) that lines the part between the bowl and the stem very close to the end, so that the smoke travels almost entirely along a wood pathway (the 'filter' is made of wood), instead of any heat picking up traces of plastic as it travels through the stem. Of course, I doubt this really makes any significant difference whatsoever... :)

    Speaking of which, why are most stems made from plastic anyway? You get this nice wooden bowl with beautiful grains, and they shove a cheap-looking man-made plastic part onto it. I'll have to search the web for alternatives. Maybe some nice hardwood or something.. ( ? )

    But you're right about the experience comment. I guess it just takes practice, learning on my own which things to do, which not to, etc...

    Although my next task is to find a new pipe - one with a smaller bowl :) One of the reasons I took this up was because I don't have an hour (or two!) to smoke a cigar when I want, and I'm trying to completely switch over from cigarettes (although I'm only an occasional smoker). But on my first pipe smoke last night, I only filled the bowl about 1/4 of the way just to break it in slowly, and it still took over 15mins. Although I wasn't drawing on it continually.
     
  9. Booker

    Booker Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
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    Your pipe looks like it has a vulcanite stem. These are a hard rubber and when new, taste like an old car tire. They will get better with use. Try not to clean the stem too aggressively as it needs to season like the bowl.

    The stem will oxodize and they can look quite nasty. You can buy stem polish but I just use a buffing wheel and some fine jewlers rouge, then wax the stem for a more durable finish.

    I've tried olive oil but didn't care for its durability.


    Plastic stems are oftem a material called lucite, which is an acrylic. Those have the nice pearly shines and swirls and such.

    Happy Puffing!
     
  10. rusty

    rusty Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
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    331
    Nice looking set there, stay with it, you will soon be enjoying it every time you light up.
     
  11. Daniel W More

    Daniel W More New Member

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    Aug 28, 2010
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    More than anything else I think patience is all you require. There is a delicate balance between packing your pipe too tight or too loose. I suggest packing your pipe 1 pinch at a time. Put a generous pinch in the pipe and press down until firm but still spungy. Keep doing this until you have the bowl packed to the desired fullness. For breaking in a pipe, you are on the right track. You want to build a lining or cake throughout the whole bowl. Often the best way to achieve this for the less experienced is to pack at different levels as you likely won't smoke the whole bowl at the same rate. Also, try lighting the top and then re-tamper after the initial light and re-light.
    As for the bland tobacco taste, flavoured tobacco blends may not be what you are after. As a cigar smoker you might try unflavoured tobacco blends such as Virginia Flake or Cavendish. Try thinking of it as coffe. If you like espresso or dark roast coffee you probably aren't going to suddenly gravitate toward Vanilla Bean.
    Finally, the bitter taste on the stem of your pipe is not likely from your having used Purell to clean it. Pipe stems are made from many materials the most common being Acrylic or Vulcanised Rubber. The rubber stems have a safter "mouth feel" but oxidize. This oxodization will occur from UV exposure whether the pipe is smoked or not. This likely occured in the shop where you purchased the pipe. There are many ways to clean the stem but I like using the Denicotea pipe cleaner myself. You can probably find this in most pipe shops.
    I hope that helps. Hang in there, you'll "get it" and the rewards are worth the effort.
     
  12. DuaneNeveu

    DuaneNeveu Member

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    Oct 13, 2010
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    17
    Welcome to the brotherhood!

    I'm not terribly new to pipe smoking, but new to these forums.

    I just bought my second of two Brigham's today (with the Rock Maple filter system). Since I'm finding myself enjoying a bowl on my 30-minute commute to and from work every day, I needed a second pipe so as to allow them time to cool, and more importantly, dry. I'm down here in Essex County, Ontario. "La Casa Del Habano" is really the only real tobacconist in town, and that's where I bought both pipes, and where I get all my cigars and pipe tobacco.

    Nice to find so many Canucks on this board!
     
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