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Sasquatch

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#61
I think there's more than one "right" way to build a pipe, and this tubos or "reverse calabash" idea gets good play from everyone who has smoked one; but if that's so, there's also for sure more than one way to build a pipe that smokes like crap.
 

dwpipes

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#62
I think you might be referring to a type of system pipe, something like a tubo perhaps? I've never smoked one personally, but another thread on that type of pipe (large air gap) might be interesting.
Hi Andrew,
I don't know what a system or turbo pipe is. The maker is Anthony Harris (is he a member here?) www.acmepipes.com. He calls them double chamber pipes. He also had a triple chamber pipe, which he was showing around, but said he'd never make another. Obviously the skill level required to pull off these shapes in briar is high and the 'engineering' must be precise, but they seem to break all of the various 'perfect pipe' rules as I understand them. He sites the Calabash Gourd pipe as a traditional double chamber pipe and has a page of theory and explanation.
 
#63
ok I am having trouble with my pipe, during smoking it gurgles and sometimes well half the time I cant seem to get the pipe cleaner into the stem more than half a cm unless i flip the pipe cleaner round. it will pass a pipe cleaner through the stem when I go bottom to top though. How do I fix that?
 

dwpipes

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#64
ok I am having trouble with my pipe, during smoking it gurgles and sometimes well half the time I cant seem to get the pipe cleaner into the stem more than half a cm unless i flip the pipe cleaner round. it will pass a pipe cleaner through the stem when I go bottom to top though. How do I fix that?
I frequently run into the problem that the lip end of the air duct is too restrictive to start a pipe cleaner when restoring pipes. I use a 5/64" drill bit on a Dremel flex shaft. I first go straight in the center, but be careful if the stem is bent so you don't punch through. Once I have a slightly larger center hole, I gently move the drill bit from side to side to open up the slot further and then work the air duct into a slightly flaring oval side to side from about 1/2" to 5/8" in to the end. That usually solves the pipe cleaner problem. I don't think that will effect the gurgle though.
 

Sasquatch

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#66
You'll have better results if you heat up the stem and straighten it before trying to tool it. Do you know if it's rubber or acrylic?
 

Sasquatch

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#68
Sounds like. Boil it in water, it'll straighten right out for you. You might suspend it - don't boil the tenon (just a precaution, it shouldn't matter), but the bent part will straighten up at 100C.
 

roberted5

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#72
So, you're thinkin' to buy a pipe, after having gone into the shop "just to have a look". How do you know if a pipe is going to be any good, or any good for you in particular?

Briar: We don't know where it came from. Period. So we have to hope it's been treated properly. Most of what you'll hear is total baloney. Every pipe shop in the world has a brandless bunch of basket pipes where the stummels were cut in WWII and recently found, or some such nonsense. For our purposes, briar is briar, and how old, how treated, where from, is all a mystery.

All we can do is look at the briar carefully and make sure it has no serious flaws. Deep pits, cracks or fissures, or spots that look kind of spongey? Pass it by. Fills are harder to detect, but in general, they are small spots of color that have no grain at all, and are usually a slightly different texture than the wood. A fill is no reason to reject a pipe on smoking grounds. I have pipes with multiple fills that smoke great. But if you are paying top dollar, and want a pipe that did not require cosmetic repair, then look really close for small off-color spots.

On a smooth pipe, look that it is sanded well and finished evenly. This is where corners are cut on production pipes. Have a look, for example, where the stem hits the bowl - it's tough to get that right. If it's all scratchy looking, or darker stained, then it didn't get the attention it deserved. That won't make the pipe smoke better, but it can be an indicator of how well taken care of a pipe was at the factory - did anyone care how it came out?

Rusticated pipes are usually chosen for rustication because they have some cosmetic issue - they aren't pretty under the texture. That does NOT make them worse smokers by any means, but you have to look closely at the rustication and make sure it isn't hiding a serious defect.

Inside the bowl may be coated. If it is, you can't see much. If it isn't, have a look at the wood, again making sure there aren't any serious defects (larger pits, or discolored areas). I would pass on a pipe if the stain bled through to the bowl from the outside.

That's about all you can tell on most pipes.

Grain itself means nothing in terms of how a pipe will smoke. Your straight grained beauties are just that - beauties.

I avoid heavily lacquered pipes because I've seen them blister and flake. But most finishes are fine, and I wouldn't pay a huge amount of attention to exactly what the pipe is coated with.



Mechanics: I spend a lot of time looking at how a pipe is set up. First, see that the airway hits the bottom of the bowl, more or less in the middle. I would accept a pipe if the airway is off to the side a bit, but not if it isn't in the bottom corner, so to speak. I also avoid pipes that have the airway meeting the bowl RIGHT at the bottom - they can plug up a bit.

Have a look at the shape of the tobacco chamber too. Some people don't like the more conical Danish style chambers. It depends on your packing technique and what kinds of tobacco you smoke, I think. It's not that one is better than another, but a 1" by 1" wide, flat bottom bowl requires a different pack than a 3" deep cone.


Opening the pipe up, feel how tight the joint is. If it's super tight, the shank could crack, or the tenon break. Super loose is no good either. A little loose and it will fix itself if you smoke the pipe a bunch.

Have a look at where the airway from the bowl ends inside the shank. In a straight or slighly bent pipe, the airway should be centered dead on inside the mortise where the tenon slides in. A really bent pipe will have the airway terminating in the side wall of the mortise, and it is critical that the tenon does not occlude this hole. You can take a quick measurement with anything; a pipe cleaner, a match.... just see that the tenon is not deeper than the airway hole.

Assuming the stummel is okay, have a look at the stem. It should be cleanly finished inside and out. It's worth looking at how well the button is cut, and the slot at the end of the stem. This part goes in your mouth, so if it's too fat, or sharp, or just weird in some way, you'll know it.

Make sure you like the material of the stem: Lucite lasts long and is maintenance free, but it's hard on teeth. Ebonite is nicer on the teeth and more durable than cheaper vulcanite, but you'll only see it on top end factory pipes and handmades. Most pipes have mass-produced stems that are not especially comfortable compared to a hand made. Try a pipe cleaner in the stem, from both directions. If it goes easily, that's good. If it gets stuck, or hits something, the stem is either too restricted or badly machined. Dump it!

Generally, the idea is that the smoke coming from the chamber does not have to jump through hoops to get to your mouth. The smoother the ride for the smoke, the nicer the pipe will be.

With the stem in the pipe, you can look at the joint between the stem and the shank of the stummel. No gap is good. Gap is bad. Now, you can certainly tweak that at home with a little sanding - it's not a dealbreaker, but a high quality pipe will have a high quality joint. These little details being done well is an indicator that someone, somewhere, cared how the pipe came out.

So if you have a pipe in hand, and you can see that air gets easily from the bowl to the button, and the briar isn't obviously junky, the pipe will most likely be fine. The little details being done right is indicative (we hope) that the pipe as a whole is "well made".

Hope this helps. I bought ten or so pipes knowing absolutely nothing about how they should go together, and got lucky on some, and unlucky on others.
Do you mean a gap from the tenon to draft hole?Do you have a picture of the pipe you made from 1500 year old briar,was it still growing or petrified?
 

Sasquatch

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#73
A gap from the tenon to the draft hole is maybe not ideal, but that's hard to measure by eye. I was just referring to whether on the outside, the end of the shank and the shoulder of the stem come together flush. They should.

I would worry less about a gap between the end of the tenon and the end of the mortise than some guys might - every bent Peterson pipe is built with a huge gap (to accept a 9mm filter in some models) and they still smoke fine.
 

roberted5

Member
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#74
A gap from the tenon to the draft hole is maybe not ideal, but that's hard to measure by eye. I was just referring to whether on the outside, the end of the shank and the shoulder of the stem come together flush. They should.

I would worry less about a gap between the end of the tenon and the end of the mortise than some guys might - every bent Peterson pipe is built with a huge gap (to accept a 9mm filter in some models) and they still smoke fine.
Thanks for the help.
 
#78
This is all seriously great info! Unfortunately, it also seems to mean (to me) it's about impossible to buy a pipe online unless:
1. I totally trust the person that's created the pipe
2. Or, there are crystal clear pictures of the pipe. Those shots must also be those which will answer those questions by OP; however, it's rare to see pipes pictured to get those questions answered. At least I've not seen a pipe listed with those shots. Then again, perhaps what I can afford has prevented me from going to those sites where pipes are listed with enough clear pics to do the job.

Perhaps I'm over reacting to the info above and my total lack of knowing it before reading it. I'm now very concerned about buying a pipe online (and only in person). This sux because in Texas: there never seems to be any pipe shows.
 
#80
This is all seriously great info! Unfortunately, it also seems to mean (to me) it's about impossible to buy a pipe online unless:
1. I totally trust the person that's created the pipe
2. Or, there are crystal clear pictures of the pipe. Those shots must also be those which will answer those questions by OP; however, it's rare to see pipes pictured to get those questions answered. At least I've not seen a pipe listed with those shots. Then again, perhaps what I can afford has prevented me from going to those sites where pipes are listed with enough clear pics to do the job.

Perhaps I'm over reacting to the info above and my total lack of knowing it before reading it. I'm now very concerned about buying a pipe online (and only in person). This sux because in Texas: there never seems to be any pipe shows.
Corncobs are some of the clumsiest built pipes and some of them smoke great. This conversation is about ideal drill depths and the pursuit of perfection. The things being discussed are more about helping pipe makers improve their techniques not dissuade you from buying a pipe from anywhere but fourth generation master pipesmiths who meditate while carving intricate freehands with an opinel in a cloud of latakia smoke. As far as buying a pipe online, I think you'll be able to smoke most of em just fine ;)