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Leaking Grabow pipes

Discussion in 'Pipes' started by OldSchool, Mar 12, 2011.

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  1. OldSchool

    OldSchool Member

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    I've been building up a rotation with a few new Dr. Grabow pipes, given my codger/blue collar tastes and budget. So far I've added a Grand Duke, Freehand and Royal Duke. I'm quite happy with the Grand, and I would be happy with the Freehand and Royal Duke but for a disturbing issue -- they leak noxious and finger staining tobacco juice around the stem and shank joint. Even when dry and clean and smoking a half-bowl of not-very-wet CH, the stem and shank joint will start "sweating" little brown droplets.

    At first I tried using the Grabow filters in the Freehand and Royal Duke (I normally smoke without them), but it had no effect on the sweating/leaking. Then I thought it might be a consequence of these Grabows not featuring a band around the joint (the Grand Duke has a band, as does my non-leaking Medico), but some online research revealed someone else reporting the leaking Grabow problem with a banded model.

    Right now I'm "solving" this problem by not sealing the stem and shank faces completely, leaving a millimeter or so gap between them. The Royal Duke's stem/shank faces remain dry this way; the Freehand develops some minor sweat but not enough to dribble.

    I have two questions -- is there a better way to prevent these Grabows from leaking during a smoke, and if not am I harming the pipes by leaving this little mortise/tenon gap while I'm smoking them? Thanks in advance.
     


  2. uncleburl

    uncleburl Member

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    Odd..... I've smoked various Grabows for years without ever having that happen. I used to use filters but don't bother anymore.
    A couple questions:
    How many bowls have you smoked through them?
    Are they new or estate pipes?
    Are you drying them out well in between smokes (with the stem in place)?

    I believe the briar has just not expanded to make a good seal yet. A good cake in the bowl will also help.
     
  3. OldSchool

    OldSchool Member

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    All three Grabows are brand new -- the Grand Duke I bought about five weeks ago, the Freehand three weeks ago and the Royal Duke last week. I have put (or am putting) each through the break-in process described on the package -- at least five half bowls followed by alternating half and full bowls. I typically smoke two bowls (half or full) in each daily.

    The Grand Duke has not exhibited any leakage at all, the Freehand can develop a few droplets (which can remain hidden in the rusticated grooves of the shank face), and the Royal Duke sweats like a sow unless I leave that tiny gap.
     
  4. Schmitz Bitz

    Schmitz Bitz Member

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    I would try rubbing some beeswax on the stem to try and make a seal. Even if it doesn't work, it certainly can't hurt.
     
  5. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    I have this same problem with one of my brebbias. then I discovered that the inside of the shank was lined with some kind of plastic - not briar! So I guess the plastic isn't absorbing any liquid and it's leaking out of the joint :-(
     
  6. Dutchking22

    Dutchking22 Member

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    Own three DG and have never had this problem. Let me know how you fix it and just what it is, so in the future if it happens, I'll be prepaired!
     
  7. Falconeer

    Falconeer Active Member

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    Hi All,

    I'm with Uncle Burl as to why this is happening. That said I have a Duke and a Lark, both fairly new and only lightly smoked before I got them - I'm smoking moist British Flakes in them without problems.

    What I do with any new pipe though before I start smoking it is to take the pipe apart and rub the end of the stem with a block of natural beeswax so maybe this is why it hasn't happened to me??

    The only time I have had this type of sweating was with a Kaywoodie screw in which had had the stinger cut off, but I could understand that because of the metal to metal join.

    Do try the beeswax, most ironmongers stock blocks of it, though the best comes from a local honey farm if there's one near you - it fixes most things!

    Best as ever

    Gerry
     
  8. OldSchool

    OldSchool Member

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    Thanks, everyone. Looks like I'll be adding a bit of beeswax to my kit. Has to be better than rubber gloves and a bib! :eek:hyeah:
     
  9. Dutchking22

    Dutchking22 Member

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    I take it back, I do recall getting the sweats once, but that was because I was smoking the pipe too often and not letting it cool all the way. Sorry!
     
  10. OldSchool

    OldSchool Member

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    A progress report -- I haven't acquired any beeswax yet, but for the hell of it I thought I'd try a full bowl in the Royal Duke with the stem and shank faces closed last night. Got through the whole smoke with no leaks! Same thing this morning. I'm trying a full bowl in the Freehand right now, and I still get some slight moisture forming at the joint, though much less than previously. Uncle Burl may be right, and this is just a settling-in issue.

    Resolved:
    - I still intend to get some beeswax and treat the mortise and tenon of any future pipes, and the Freehand if needed;
    - This may be superstitious of me, but any future Grabows I buy will have a band around the stem/shank joint like my never-leaking Grand Duke.

    Thanks, everyone.
     
  11. Young Gun

    Young Gun Member

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    Had the same problem with my first Grabow when breaking it in. I did not try beeswax but I think I'll pick some up as it seems a popular treatment among you guys. Mine stopped sweating at the joint after I had broken it in and gotten a nice cake in the bowl. I'm with Uncle Burl, I believe the wood had not yet expanded enough to create a proper seal.
     
  12. Redone

    Redone Member

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    I bought a freehand a week ago and have not had this problem at all. I will say when I took it apart to clean it I noticed at the tenon there was moisture pooled there and swabbed it out with no problems. I have not had this happen or seen this with any other of my briar pipe's. It has never dripped thru so I guess I'm lucky. I will say this is a great pipe. I love the shape and it smokes really well.
     
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