Friday, February 8, 2008

Two more unnamed pipes

I thought I should go back to the early days and work forward from there, so here's a twofer because neither of these pipes are especially remarkable.

Back in the early days of my pipe smoking, that is, before internet access, I had no resources to help guide me. I bought what I could find. This meant I pretty much smoked nothing but various flavors of Captain Black and Borkum Riff. I still love the smell of Captain Black Whiskey, and although I'm sure it would make a nice sachet, I would never smoke it again. Anyhow, in one of those pouches was an ad for a place called Blue Ridge Pipe Company or something like that--Blue Ridge was in there somewhere, but I don't remember the exact name. So I sent for their catalog and to me, back then, it was a treasure-trove of pipe smoking supplies and paraphernalia. Over the course of a year or two I ordered tobacco, three pipes, a beautiful rosewood-bolstered pipe tool that I have since misplaced (but it's gotta be around here somewhere), and a pipe rack from them. These two pipes are from there.

Pipe #1 above is simply a small filter pipe. Like most small pipes of this nature, there is not enough mass in the bowl and it smokes hot. The interesting thing to me about this pipe is that it was described as a "pear" shape. This isn't a shape name that I've ever run into anywhere else and is worth keeping just so I have an example of the "pear."

This little bent billiard is actually a nice pipe and has some beautiful grain for such a cheap pipe. It's one of those unnamed Italian pipes. I have kept this pipe set aside for occasionally sampling aromatic blends, however, I just don't smoke aromatics at all anymore so I think I will give this one a salt treatment to try and remove the last vestiges of vanilla and then start putting some Perique blends through it.

What is the "salt treatment?" This is something I do often with estate pipes to remove the old flavors and rejuvenate it. First remove the stem and plug up the shank with a q-tip, a small piece of cotton, or a pipe cleaner. Prop up the stummel so that it will remain upright and won't fall over. Then you fill the bowl with salt. Then you carefully pour a small amount of alcohol into the bowl, just enough that the bowl is filled without any liquid slopping out on the rim. Most people prefer to use potable types of alcohol for this. I prefer to use Everclear, which in my opinion is the best pipe cleaning fluid you can get. Any kind of high-proof alcohol that doesn't have much flavor will work. Rum is another good one. So you've got it all filled and propped up, and you let it sit. How long you let it sit is up to you, but I always let it go until the salt is brown from absorbing gunk from the old cake and all the alcohol is pretty much evaporated. It usually takes a few hours. Use your pipe pick to remove the salt, then give it a regular cleaning like you always do with pipe cleaners and pipe sweetener (or more of your favorite high-proof alcohol beverage). Put it aside and let it rest for a day or two, then load it and light it.

If this doesn't work, it can be repeated but one must be careful because the salt treatment can dry out the wood. I destroyed a cheap basket pipe like this once by giving it too many treatments and it caused a bad crack in the shank.

There is an even more drastic measure that can be taken if the salt treatment doesn't work, but I will talk about it in a later post.

The third pipe that I purchased from Blue Ridge is a much better pipe, and will get it's own post (probably) tomorrow.


  1. Just one of your lurkers here...

    I have been enjoying the Briar Files. How about a post on the various types of pipe tobaccos. Also don't forget to describe the smell.

    I still remember my adopted grandpa and his pipes from my youth... Some days I can still smell the tobacco.

  2. I have been planning on writing something about the tobaccos I've tried, but I was putting it off until I ran out of pipes. Maybe I'll write something up this weekend.