Pipe newbie with a few questions

Discussion in 'Need Pipe Smoking Advice? Ask an Old Fart!' started by theSEAMAS, Jul 12, 2011.

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  1. theSEAMAS

    theSEAMAS Member

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    New member from Georgia here! And new pipe smoker as well.

    Little intro for me before I get started:
    Started smoking pipes on the first weekend of July (2011) and have fallen in love with the art. I was an occasional cigar smoker for a while, but really just wanted something a bit more ritualistic and classical (and doesn't leave my fingers smelling awful after a big smelly cigar). Now that I have my lady's approval for pipes I'll be enjoying a bowl 1 or 2 times per week but mostly at the end of my work weeks to relax and put all my stress into the wind.

    My first pipe was a cheap Cheng Fang. Mostly just used it to get the basics down while I was teaching myself lighting and everything. Then I came across an ebay auction for an "unmarked pipe from a box of Bertram's". I've been doing a lot of studying and from what I have seen the pipe does look like a Bertram. I won it and it is certainly well crafted (in my newbie opinion). The difference between my cheap pipe and my -- well I guess I could say -- Bertram is incredible. The smoke is smooth and cool and I have yet to get tongue bite even with the cheap tobacco I got (Smoker's Pride Black Cav).

    My second pipe I won on ebay is a Peterson St Patrick's Day X105. It has an Irish flag for it's band... Couldn't really find TOO much info on it so maybe someone here can help. I have yet to smoke it, but I know I'm going to like the P-Lip design. It felt different but great when I dry puffed it.

    [​IMG]

    Now here is my question. How much oxidation is too much oxidation on the stem? The top (Bertram) was pretty oxidized and the Peterson has slight oxidation. I cleaned the majority of it off tonight soaking in Oxyclean for 1 hour and scrubbing them with a magic eraser. The Peterson stem still needs a little work as there is still some LIGHT discoloration near the bottom. Neither one taste bad or smell bad like I've heard oxidation does, so is it a big deal to have SOME discoloration? I'm going to soak them again tomorrow when I have time and take some sandpaper to them to get a little more off. As far as polishing goes also, I kind of like having a matte black finish instead of a glossy finish, will this harm the stem at all?

    Well that's it for now. As you can tell, I like to write!

    Until next time...

    theSEAMAS
     
  2. sarge564

    sarge564 Member

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    Not going to comment on your questions but just want to offer a WELCOME! You will find a great deal of info on here and some good people. Slow down and smoke.
     
  3. dwaugh

    dwaugh Moderator Moderator

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    theSEAMAS, welcome to the forum, and nice looking pipes!

    I'm breaking forum rules by answering (I don't qualify as an "old fart"), but I have done some work with stem material. If you are not getting an "off taste" from the stems, like you said, any remaining discoloration is purely cosmetic. I have not tried the OXY-Clean, but if it works like bleach, it is only removing the oxidized bits. The bleach will not harm un-oxidized parts of the stem. Below is a photo of a oxidized stem, the left half was soaked in bleach for 2 hours. The rough appearance of bleach stems is the result of non-oxidized particles remaining at their original elevation after the surrounding oxidized stuff is lost.
    [​IMG]

    Fine sandpaper does a good job at removing those high spots.

    If you like the matt finish the Mr. Clean Eraser, as you have been using, does a good job. Below is a photo of a stem that was sanded with 1500 grit paper, then the right half was covered in tape and the Magic Eraser used on the left half, it did a good job of removing the scratches; although in this sample I should have spent more time with the Eraser, I can see some scratches remain.

    [​IMG]

    So basically, if your not getting an off taste there is nothing to worry about! I personally like a shine to my stems, so I use fine sandpapers followed by Brebbia pipe stem polish. One thing to remember if you are using papers, is not to round the edge of the stem where it abuts the wood shank, that sharp edge is easy to round off (I've done it a few times). None of this has to be done all a once either, often after an initial cleaning I'll smoke the pipe for awhile before I go back and get the last little bits of oxidation left. Hope that helps, David
     
  4. jpberg

    jpberg Moderator Moderator

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    Well, David, that's about the best answer I've seen to a question posted here. Wow.
     
  5. Snake

    Snake permanent ankle biter

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    Good lord, David! Are you also splitting atoms
    in your back yard???
     
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  6. dwaugh

    dwaugh Moderator Moderator

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    LOL, no splitting atoms in the backyard! Mostly just dog doo back there..... I just got a little carried away a few months ago testing different stem polishing techniques..... (yea, I got problems....:)) http://vulcanitestem.blogspot.com/2011/04/pipe-stem-polishing-test.html
    -David
     
  7. theSEAMAS

    theSEAMAS Member

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    Well that was the best answer I have ever gotten in any forum I've ever posted in :thu2:

    Good to know about the taste. Honestly I kind of like the way a light discoloration looks on the stems of older pipes... I don't know, just makes it look vintage.

    I have some new tobacco coming in probably tomorrow that I can't wait to try. CAO Sweet Vanilla Honeydew and Peterson Luxury Blend. I think it will be a nice upgrade from the Smoker's Pride I have (thought the Smoker's Pride does taste and smell pretty good). Can't wait to smoke the Peterson either! Saving the Peterson tobacco for it
     
  8. SmokeyJoe

    SmokeyJoe Active Member

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    I do know that he does experiment with his dog, something about a doghair and vulcanite static test?....:ohyh:
    Any pics of your test subject?
     
  9. Beale

    Beale Active Member

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    Welcome to PSF! Very glad to have you on!

    You have yourself 2 very nice pipes! I think David's answer was of a great help for quite a few of us! Beale.
     
  10. ruffinogold

    ruffinogold Ruffinogold-Mayor, I.R.G.E.--At Large. Mayor

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    Wellcome from N. Georgia . If ya end up really loving pipe smoking ... your best bet over the long run is to get a buffer . They're priceless imo . Nice Pete and the Bertram was/is ? a tobacconist in D.C . .
     
  11. theSEAMAS

    theSEAMAS Member

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    Noticed something interesting inside the bowl of the Peterson when I took a picture of it. I think I'll nickname this pipe my "peace pipe".

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. WillH

    WillH Active Member

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    You'll find David is rather unique. He's willing to grind the grist to get at the facts! Very unique individual! BTW , he qualifies as an "Ole' Fart" in expertise and that most important!

    Sorry! But I need help seeing what you're see in the pipe bowl? Peace Pipe? I know I'm missing something and it's an excellent picture......

    Will

    Just took another look - the "Peace Symbol" in the bottom! Sorry, not awake yet!
     
  13. theSEAMAS

    theSEAMAS Member

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    If you look closely in the bowl there is what looks to be a peace symbol. Maybe it's just me though :byg:
     
  14. jeff394

    jeff394 Member

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    Wow, that kind of does look like a peace symbol. Welcome from Tennessee!
     
  15. theSEAMAS

    theSEAMAS Member

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    Well I smoked a Peterson for the first time tonight. I think it's going to take another sitting or two to get used to the P-Lip design. Tonight's smoke wasn't all that enjoyable. I guess I packed too tight or something. First match: pipe lit and light smoke came out of the top like usual, but when I would puff I could barely get any of the smoke into my mouth. Ended up getting the pipe TOO hot and let it rest a while. Then I relit and ended up drooling all over the place :doh: which I guess in turn got into the bottom of the bowl and made it TOO wet to keep a light. Got a few good puffs out of it, enough to sort of get a taste of what Peterson Luxury Blend tastes like. It definitely smelled good.

    Oh well, learned a valuable lesson: don't rush the packing process. Though my Bertram smokes slightly better than the Peterson... But I can say that is mostly due to the P-Lip design--I noticed I kept resting the top of the mouthpiece on my pallet like I do with my Bertram. Guess I can't do that since it plugs up the hole!

    Tomorrow night I get to try out CAO Sweet Vanilla Honeydew in the Bert. Also got some Magnum Opus on it's way.

    Also got myself an avatar. Now you all can see what this bearded 21 year old Irish pipe smoker looks like.

    -Alex
     
  16. WillH

    WillH Active Member

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    Alex,

    I decided that if the P-Lip and I were going to be friends there needed to be a change. I modify the mouth piece. Using small files I remove the round hole and install some internal into the mouth piece.
    [​IMG]
    I'm not recommending this operation because it devalues the pipe; however, the pipe smokes to my liking and is actually very nice. Even better than a fishtail, IMO. I my little world if a pipe won't smoke for me then it's just a decoration.

    But that's me.

    Will
     
  17. Smoker99

    Smoker99 Active Member

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    As stated above, if the oxidation does not alter the taste, it is just a cosmetic thing.
     
  18. RTOdhner

    RTOdhner Well-Known Member

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    Welcome aboard. Don't worry too much about oxidation because unless it's so severe that it has turned the stem green or something, it's not going to really affect the taste of the smoke. I'd ditch the Chinese pipe, though, because they are really pretty poor pipes. However, those Bertram and Pete pipes are nice. You could get a bunch of corncob pipes or a couple of Pete's for what it's gonna cost you in time and effort to get the stems back to their original shiney black luster, so I say just let them be and focus your money on a second (and third) good pipe and some toby.

    A wise man once said that buying fancy guns was kind of a waste of time because all they do is fire the bullet. He said buy a decent gun and invest in premium ammo. The same applies to pipes. All they do is burn toby, and it's the toby that is why we smoke. A fancy pipe is a work of art, but they often don't smoke the toby any better than a plain pipe. (I found that out the hard way with a Dunhill). The P-Lip doesn't take all that much time to get used to, but Pete also makes pipes with the traditional fishtail. I kind of prefer the P-Lip, myself - but that's just me. Buy a couple of decent Pete's (Arans or Donegals are good starting points) and focus on good toby. That is how to really enjoy the art.
     
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