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Preparing a New Grabow

Discussion in 'Pipes' started by raffles07, Feb 20, 2011.

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  1. raffles07

    raffles07 Member

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    A friend who travels in the States sent me a new Grand Duke. I'm very sensitive to wood stain in a new bowl, so I was a bit suspicious of the lining.

    At this price point, to get a good smoke I don't care what I have to do. So ... most of this lining came off under the hot tap! (Which perhaps surprisingly didn't affect the varnish at all.) It then took 5 or 6 alcohol-soaked cotton wool balls to draw out the wood stain. The briar is low-end with some openness in the grain. Very light in weight too. The bowl was drilled too deep and needed pipe mud.

    10 bowls later, after a careful break in, this is smoking well.

    In fact I was impressed enough to order a Lark. I like small bowls and long stems. This really fits the bill. Now I'm looking at this carbon-or-whatever coating inside the bowl and wondering: should I risk it?
     
  2. Falconeer

    Falconeer Active Member

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    Hi All,

    A very interesting post from Raffles and co-incidentaly I'm breaking in two Grabows at the time of writing, a Lark and a Duke sent to me by a good friend in the States.

    I didn't think of removing any interior stain or coating I simply loaded the bowls part full with Prince Albert and smoked them for a day each to get them started off and this really did work fine for me. The pipes are quite small, but in the UK where you can no longer smoke in a pub or restaurant I don't find this a disadvantage as most of my friends smoke two cigarettes when outside and the Grabows are ideal for a 10 minute quarter of an hour smoke.

    I have actualy been pretty impressed with these little pipes - many have commented that they can be fiercely hot smokers, but in my experience most new pipes including my beloved Falcons run hot until some carbon has been formed and by the mid point of break in day with both, they have handled Carey's Dark No7 in Flake form fine,

    Happy smoking all

    Gerry
     
  3. OldSchool

    OldSchool Member

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    I've never done anything special to a new Grabow, besides the standard breaking in. I "clean" a new pipe by wiping it down with a damp cloth, running a pipe cleaner through it, a moist cotton ball or Q-Tip for the bowl then let it dry. I just took it for granted that the twentieth bowl will be better than the second. I'd be interested to learn if a better method would speed up or improve the break-in.
     
  4. raffles07

    raffles07 Member

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    Unless you have an unusual sensitivity, as I believe I do, there would be no advantage to my break in method. Quick, it isn't!
     
  5. raffles07

    raffles07 Member

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    I wondered about this, as there is little density in the wood to absorb heat. But I'm not sure about the physics of this - maybe a small thin pipe radiates heat faster than a large heavy one, and thus keeps pace in terms of heat dissipation.

    I probably would tend to avoid blends that burn hot with these little pipes. The irony is - being an OTC American pipe - they are rather well suited to smoke strong, slow/cool-burning British tobacco.
     
  6. Falconeer

    Falconeer Active Member

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    Hi,

    very much agree with your last point - am happily smoking Carey's No 7 Dark Flake in mine - this is a strong old style Brit tobacco along the lines of Revor Plug and the little Grabows handle it perfectly; that said I did my intial burn in my Grabows with Prince Albert American Burley.

    Best to all

    Gerry
     
  7. Bri2k

    Bri2k Active Member

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    I smoke new Grabows right out of the box, and it's been my experience that their "pre-smoked" thing isn't just a gimmick, but practically eliminates the pain of breaking in a new pipe. Granted, so far my only bad reaction to tobacco is when I don't get enough! What you see inside a Grabow bowl is actually a fine layer of carbon built up when these pipes are "machine smoked" during production.
     
  8. Legend

    Legend Member

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    I don't think they pre smoke the pipes any longer. Some friends that went to the DG Factory in Sparta, NC as part of a tour from the Doctor Grabow Collector's Forum saw the machine, but it's kept I think mainly for historical purposes. The pipe bowls are coated with a spray to help the break in, much like some of the Peterson's do now. For what it's worth, as Bri says, these pipes are very easy to break in.
     
  9. raffles07

    raffles07 Member

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    I now have a 60's Silver Duke, unsmoked, and I can confirm the coating is different, the work of the smoking machine, according to a little slip of paper inside the bowl, though it's unlike any cake I've ever produced by smoking.

    The modern coating is water-based, probably carbon. I'm sure it works fine, and I'm just being ultra cautious ... because I've taken the Lark back to the wood, inside and out. Apart from a few small fills it's a decent piece of briar - slightly better, in fact, than the Grand Duke.
     
  10. Edlj

    Edlj Member

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    Cletus is correct,Dr. G's are no longer 'pre-smoked" and as stated they now have a carbon coating. I've found that the newer pipes don't require any special break in. I just load 'em full and smoke. The Larks and Dukes have always been mostly small pipes and have always been the cheapest lines made by Grabow. My latest is a Golden Duke pot. Great smoker from the first bowl. It did have some issues with the lacquer so I took it off,which didn't in any way affect the way it smokes. All Grabows made today are push stem filter pipes,although you don't have to use a filter.

    That pre-smoking machine at the factory is quite a contraption!!
     
  11. Bri2k

    Bri2k Active Member

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    Thanks for setting me straight, gentlemen. Funny how long great a bit of great marketing lingers in the memory. I guess I've been lucky to have never suffered any break-in issues outside of burning in shanks in MM pipes.
     
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