Monday, January 28, 2008

And then we had pipe number two

In that first pouch of Captain Black that I bought (previously mentioned), or one of the first, anyway, there was a coupon for a meerschaum pipe. I certainly was going to need more pipes, and it didn't cost much, so I sent the coupon and the cash in and soon received the pipe pictured above.

It's a good pipe. Most meerschaums are. A little flowery, but nothing too ornate. The problem with this pipe is the stem. Follow the curve of that stem and what do you notice? The bit end is still going up. It should be slightly more horizontal. This makes this pipe a little awkward for me. The weight of the bowl makes it feel like someone is trying to lever your teeth apart.

That doesn't mean I don't use it, I just don't use it much. In the early days, I used it often, and it has a voluminous bowl that provides a long afternoon's smoke.

The stem is also made of plastic that is too soft, in my opinion, and is a little too "chewy."

Well, I can fix the bend now I think of it. I have tweaked the bend of stems before. It's not easy, but it's possible. I think someday I'll probably just have it fitted for a nice black acrylic stem and then it will be much easier to smoke.

To change the bend of a stem--and this goes only for the softer plastics or vulcanite (hard rubber), not for the hard acrylic stems--you first run a pipe cleaner all the way through it. This will preserve the air passage. Then you put it in boiling water for a few minutes until it gets good and hot. You fish it out with a pair of tongs and then, with your hands protected by gloves, oven mitts or hotpads, you grasp it firmly and carefully bend it slightly. Yes, I have done this before and sometimes it took two or three tries before I got it right. The stem will tend to straighten out while it's being heated. I suppose if you had one of those hot sand things that optometrists use to bend spectacle arms, that would work too. But I just used boiling water. After it cools, remove the pipe cleaner.


  1. What is the brand of this pipe? I have the same exact kind I bought used. I never knew anything about it.

  2. Like I said, it was distributed by Captain Black. That's all I know about it.