Pipe Questions

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Steve D.
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Pipe Questions

Post by Steve D. » Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:42 pm

Kip, I would be very interested in anything pipe related. I got my first pipe about a year ago and have struggled keeping it lit, but would like to keep trying. I do believe that most tobacco is far too moist to burn well. I need to do a better job of letting it sit out before packing a bowl. Here in Colorado, things dry pretty fast and I think if I let a bowl-worth sit out for half an hour to an hour it would probably burn quite a bit better.

At this point I can't really tell you what I would add to a rating system because I am so new to pipe tobacco. I have tried some of the blends you have recommended in the past and really enjoyed them.

Rattray's Old Gowrie: great apricot aroma

GL Pease Westminster: great smoked flavor like a peaty Scotch

Perhaps a novice suggestion, but general flavor profiles would help me the most. Flavor and nicotine strength would also be helpful. Our palates generally align, so I would be happy to hear about tobaccos you are enjoying and not collectors items.

Thanks Kip.

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Kip
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Pipe Questions

Post by Kip » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:10 am

Steve D. wrote:I got my first pipe about a year ago and have struggled keeping it lit, but would like to keep trying.
Keep at it. It is definitely a process. It takes 5 minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. Experiment with different packing methods, cuts of tobacco (maybe even a shag cut, if you can find a blend you like cut that way...that'll burn like gas-soaked rags), types of blends, and even pipes - bad drilling is a frequent culprit.
Steve D. wrote: I do believe that most tobacco is far too moist to burn well. I need to do a better job of letting it sit out before packing a bowl. Here in Colorado, things dry pretty fast and I think if I let a bowl-worth sit out for half an hour to an hour it would probably burn quite a bit better.
You are absolutely right. Find your magic zone of preferred moisture. I do the exact same thing with most blends. You can even take out a couple days' worth and put it into a small roll-up pouch. It will dry enough to smoke it, but not too much within those 2 days (much more and it will become brittle). Also, pipe drilling is a frequent culprit for moisture in your bowl. A poorly-drilled mortise-draught hole junction will breed moisture, which will slide down into the heel of your bowl. If you get some moisture down there, try running a pipe cleaner down from the bit into the bowl. Some pipes require a twist of the pipe cleaner to make the trip - if it's simply impossible to put a cleaner through, your drilling is probably off.
Steve D. wrote:Rattray's Old Gowrie: great apricot aroma
Delicious stuff - Rattray's Marlin Flake is an alltime favorite of mine. Like Gowrie, but a bit darker in flavor and less apt to give me tongue-bite.
Steve D. wrote:GL Pease Westminster: great smoked flavor like a peaty Scotch
Beautiful tobacco. Exactly how I'd describe it, too.
Steve D. wrote:Perhaps a novice suggestion, but general flavor profiles would help me the most. Flavor and nicotine strength would also be helpful. Our palates generally align, so I would be happy to hear about tobaccos you are enjoying and not collectors items.
I'm still working out the details, but I should have that covered. The thing that has me most excited is the ability for users to submit a review. Unlike in the format I settled on for cigars, the pipe version will have the ability for readers to submit a FULL review - 0-5 stars for five different categories, AND a complete written review if desired. I love the community aspect. Two heads aren't better than one because they think the same though twice as hard. They have varied thoughts that give a better picture of the issue at hand...
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Steve D.
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Pipe Questions

Post by Steve D. » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:49 am

Kip, smoking a pipe again last night with fairly dry tobacco I am still getting moisture produced which ultimately makes it's way to the bit causing a bitter and unpleasant flavor. Is this a sign to you the tobacco it's still too moist? The tobacco in the bowl, after lighting, had a nice cherry glow, but if left for a minute without puffing on it it would go out.

Also, I have noticed an irritation in the roof of my mouth and on my tongue after smoking a pipe. It does not seem as if the air coming through the pipe is overly hot but this is something I've never experienced with cigars. Is this tongue bite? I imagined it to be something more severe.

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Kip
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Pipe Questions

Post by Kip » Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:13 am

Steve D. wrote:Kip, smoking a pipe again last night with fairly dry tobacco I am still getting moisture produced which ultimately makes it's way to the bit causing a bitter and unpleasant flavor. Is this a sign to you the tobacco it's still too moist? The tobacco in the bowl, after lighting, had a nice cherry glow, but if left for a minute without puffing on it it would go out.
The moisture can stem from what I mentioned above - improper drilling somewhere in the airstream of the pipe. Usually it's a misalignment or mismatched sizing where the tenon airway meets the stem airway. Also, filter pipes notoriously have moisture troubles. It's ironic that the filter mostly acts as a moisture trap....but causes the moisture in the first place. If the tenon is shorter than need be to fit into the mortise, it creates a gap; rather than seating against the inside of the shank, it sits 1mm or more off. This plenum creates a sudden drop in pressure (vacuum) of the airstream - which condenses out some moisture. This moisture can gather in the stem, but will likely slide down into the bottom of the bowl. From there, if enough gathers, it will be drawn up the stem and into your mouth. Very undesirable...and bitter as can be. Disgusting, in fact.

Short of replacing a pipe, there are a few ways you can tinker with the various parts with rat-tail files, etc. to make the holes all match up as best as possible.

OR -- as a hook-boogie fix, you can just run a pipecleaner down the stem and into the bowl on occasion while smoking. This will dry up any moisture anywhere within it. If the pipecleaner won't go down all the way to the bowl....that's a good indicator the drilling is off somewhere. Usually, a slight (1/8" or so) bend in the cleaner will make it easier to pass. You might have to wiggle it around to "find the hole" when it reaches the stem/shank junction.

Steve D. wrote:Also, I have noticed an irritation in the roof of my mouth and on my tongue after smoking a pipe. It does not seem as if the air coming through the pipe is overly hot but this is something I've never experienced with cigars. Is this tongue bite? I imagined it to be something more severe.
This is directly related to the moisture. When it pools in the bowl, it is heated by the ember and hot air passing through/over it. It can create steam in your stream, which will burn your mouth...often without you knowing it until after the pipe is long extinguished. It's a real bother, and there's no real quick remedy. Some people are all better the next day, others can't taste their pipe for sevral days afterward.

The real solution is to remove the problem...AND continue trudging through until you figure out the proper cadence, pipe, and tobacco that works for you. There's no formula for that. It just "happens" as you smoke more and experiment with the hobby. I dinked around with it for well over a year before I was totally comfortable. Then, I got really comfortable with it and my enjoyment went up exponentially. Everything just becomes natural after doing it many times. It no longer feels odd to carry around a whole pocket full of tools, pipe, tobacco, etc. Everything is more extension of yourself than tools in the periphery.
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Steve D.
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Pipe Questions

Post by Steve D. » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:40 pm

Kip, thanks for your detailed response. I investigated the pipe and must say, Bingo!

The shank is bored ~5/16 diameter and ~1" deep and then ~3/64" diameter to bowl. The tenon measures ~5/16 diameter and ~3/4" long and bored slightly larger than 1/16, so you are correct that there is a 1/4" long x ~5/16" diameter area that abruptly increases then decreases in diameter.

May I say, you know your pipes. The pipe is a $70ish Cassano Mare pipe. Disappointing that $70 does not get you s better pipe.

I see three options and would appreciate you opinion:
1) cut 1/4" off the shank
2) replace the stem with one that has a longer tenon
3) fill the void with a piece of wood or plastic
4) insert a short length of stainless steel tubing metal bridge big gap between the draft hole and the tenon

Thanks as always. Off to enjoy a diesel unlimited without tongue bite!

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Kip
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Pipe Questions

Post by Kip » Mon Aug 11, 2014 7:57 pm

Steve D. wrote:there is a 1/4" long x ~5/16" diameter area that abruptly increases then decreases in diameter.

[....]

I see three options and would appreciate you opinion:
1) cut 1/4" off the shank
2) replace the stem with one that has a longer tenon
3) fill the void with a piece of wood or plastic
4) insert a short length of stainless steel tubing metal bridge big gap between the draft hole and the tenon
Wait! Before you do any of those things...unless you're a Norm Abram type woodworker, be very careful doing ANY of those things by yourself. Let's look at them one at a time:

1.) = Not usually a good idea; it's dang near impossible to ever get the face of the shank end to mate properly with the corresponding face of the stem. If you don't care what it looks like, and never intend on selling the pipe you might do this.

2.) This is possible, but you'll need to find someone who does this kind of work that might have one lying around. Both the guys I've used in the past are out of the business now. I don't know who is still around, but I know there are a few.

3.) Possible, but be sure you don't introduce something to the pipe that will release/produce off flavors or toxic fumes when heated...and if it's not a perfect fit you'll still have problems with the pipe.

4.) This is doable, but you'll have to be pretty handy with fine metalsmithing to get a good fit.


May I suggest something else to try first? You can sometimes take a rat-tail file and work on the opening in the stem (NOT where you mouth goes....the end that goes into the pipe shank). Make it as tapered as possible without compromising the integrity of the stem. Usually, a slower, more gradual slope going into the stem is enough to reduce the condensation. The occasional pipecleaner run from button (where your mouth goes) to heel (bottom of the bowl) is often enough to clear out the remaining moisture. This assumes your drilling is otherwise good and you can pass a pipecleaner through the length of the pipe....

Some pipes respond to this, and others don't.........but you now know what to look for the next time you're buying a pipe :)
White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise....

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Quikstryke
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Re: Pipe Questions

Post by Quikstryke » Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:11 am

If all else fails id look into a new Boswell pipe its American and hand crafted in Pennsylvania. Ebay also has some Boswells used..

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Steve D.
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Re: Pipe Questions

Post by Steve D. » Tue Aug 12, 2014 11:14 pm

Kip, thanks for your response.

I located some Delrin stock and read forums out there about tenon repair, but unsure if it is easy to know if it is safe for pipe construction. I am rethinking.

I am curious about your take on the various 'plastics' and materials used for stems. Are they really stable at pipe temps? I taste what I describe as a plasticky taste when smoking the various low end pipes I've tried. Could I be sensitive to the acrylic stems?

I also saw recommendations for epoxy and that just seems crazy to me. I worry about plastic in the beer brewing process and that is at room temp.

Time to invest in a file set, I think. Worth a try.

Thanks for the advice for a newbe.
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Kip
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Re: Pipe Questions

Post by Kip » Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:49 am

Delrín is fine. It's used frequently for tenon repair (tenons break easily if dropped). Acrylic should not be an issue, either. The taste you describe may come vulcanite. It's the most common stem material. It's no issue for allergy, etc. - BUT, being vulcanized rubber, it will oxidize over time. This brings sulfur to the surface, and can give it a weird taste. A buffing wheel or Magic Eraser can restore it pretty well and get rid of that taste.

Some people also experience a weird plastic flavor from tobacco that is heavily Laden with PG (propylene glycol). PG is food grade and safe, but may taste odd and create excess moisture in your pipe (which leads to other issues, so he as tongue bite)

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Kip
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Re: Pipe Questions

Post by Kip » Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:51 am

The picture you provided is acrylic, BTW. It is very durable, and should be flavor free. Sometimes to compensate for its brittle tendencies, the button is oversized, which can be a bit clunky to clench in your mouth. Same stuff bowling balls are made from.

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