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Breaking In A New Pipe

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Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby Nomad » Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:26 am

So far, with new pipes, I have thinly smeared some honey around the inside of the bowl, and this seems to have been okay. However, none of my pipes cost more than £35, and most were nearer £20. I have just acquired a Peterson flame grain briar Dublin (shape 120), non-filter, with a fishtail bit. Since this cost something more like proper money, I'd like to consider approaches to breaking it in before I do anything to it. The bowl has a carbonised finish, as have nearly all of my pipes. The only one that didn't was one made from a hobby kit, and I remember that tasting somewhat of burning wood for the first couple of bowls, even with a smear of honey. If any others were like that, it was much less noticeable.

The honey smear idea seems to get some mixed opinion, although it's generally positive, including some pipe makers that suggest doing it (although I don't know if it applies to non-carbonised bowls only).

The usual advice is to smoke partial bowls for a while, starting with a 1/4 or 1/3, and increasing the amount with subsequent fills. Why is this? Does something happen to the tobacco in a full bowl, such that deposition of carbon doesn't happen lower down? Does the sugar get lost in the lower tobacco due to the heat of the smoke passing through it? Or does the cake still build up evenly if one starts with full bowls?

Are there tobaccos that are more likely to aid the build-up of cake? I'm thinking of Virginias if they have more sugars than other types. I'm planning to keep the pipe for Special Latakia Flake, and my own Gravedigger blend. The SLF is mostly Va and fairly light on the Lat and Orientals, and the latter is nearly all Va with some Kentucky (from the Revor component).
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby Geo3rge » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:45 am

The honey method is popular indeed. I have used it only about twice in my pipe career and I cannot give an authoritative answer as to its efficacy as it was a while ago. But it ought to be considered, I think. Pre-carbonised bowls figure in part of my collection, but quite a few were the raw briar and I didn't notice any of that burning taste you mention.
I tend these days just to fully fill up and go.

Yes, the idea of filling part way is good advice - technically to begin the cake lower down as soon as possible and to protect the base of the chamber. As I am someone who doesn't normally smoke all the way to the last shred, I'm guilty, initially at least, of not getting the base thoroughly carbonised early on. But, in time, it evens out, in my experience and if a pipe is well smoked over a period of time, the smoke does its job, I feel, whichever way you decide to break it in. I know that some will approach this with a degree of scientific accuracy as well. There is room for all here.

I think Virginias would do the trick. Latakia early on may ghost it a little too early for me and anything like Ennerdale I avoid as well! Fine smoke aroma but dreadful in its lingering!

A trick learned from YouTube when breaking in a new pipe is to suck smoke in as normal then immediately blow it gently out a few times through the pipe itself. Do this each time the pipe is smoked for the initial breaking in phase.
How many pipefuls before it's broken in? I've heard varying estimates; for me, probably around six or seven pipefuls and I'm satisfied that I've got it off to a good start.
I reckon that you should just smoke the pipe regularly in your rotation. It will cake up nicely in time. I'm not concerned these days with being too fussy over things. Keep on regularly smoking and cleaning your pipes and they will do their work, I feel.

One other thought is to buy good quality estate pipes. They will have already been broken in, to varying extent, and a good dealer will have taken care of the essentials of sanitisation and restoration.

Good luck with the breaking-in!
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby Dodger » Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:27 pm

The 1/4 to 1/3 bowl method is traditional but I believe it is the best way to carbonise the bottom of the bowl .Others may disagree with that method but everybody believes that for the first few smokes it should be to the bottom of the bowl .As for the honey method I have no opinion ,but if it works for you carry on doing it .
Remember there is no right or wrong way of smoking a pipe just what works for you .
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby Nomad » Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:42 am

Thanks chaps. I tend to smoke to the bottom of the bowl in any case, so maybe it's not such a big deal for me. I'm thinking I'll probably just go with the honey since it doesn't seem to have been at all bad for my other pipes. And I'll try the idea of putting a little smoke back through the pipe.

I haven't really looked seriously at estate pipes. I have looked at non-refurbished ones on eBay occasionally, but never seen anything that takes my fancy. The only estate pipe I have is the gourd calabash, which I got because it was a 'Sherlock Holmes pipe' (I'm a fan, and I know it's not canon) and I fancied having some Sherlockian stuff lying around. It wasn't until a few years later, when I took up pipe smoking, that I considered smoking it. A good clean/sterilisation was undertaken and I found it smoked really well. The stem was pretty oxidised, and I recently put it on a buffing wheel with various grades of compound for plastic, followed by carnauba wax, and it came up looking lovely. If anything, I'd probably be more into refurbishing estate pipes than buying them with that already done.
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby KevLa » Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:30 pm

I always just half-fill the first half-a-dozen bowls, and smoke slower than usual, letting pipe extinguish and cool occasionally perhaps. I usually use a Burley blend such as Daughters & Ryan Cockstrong :)
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby Nomad » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:54 pm

A little update on the flame grain Peterson...

After some more dithering, I eventually went with the smear of honey. I'm currently on the third bowl (all full bowls, my own Gravedigger blend), and I think it's starting to settle a little. I've been smoking it gently - much more sipping than my usual puffing. With the first two, it got pretty hot and I had to put it down a few times, but it has taken a bit longer to reach this point with the third bowl, and I'm generally managing to keep a hold of it for longer. It's going to take a few more before it can be smoked through, but the omens are looking good.

So far, though, I really like it. I like the ergonomics - in particular, the button feels more rounded than on my other pipes. It also has a pretty easy draw, and the deeper bowl gives a longer smoke. If the cake develops enough to better control the heat build-up, there's a very high chance that it'll become a favourite.
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby Geo3rge » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:58 am

It is satisfying to detect early on that a pipe is likely to be a good one. It somehow feels right, in every aspect, from aesthetics right down to the draw, the feel in hand and mouth and the enhancement of the tobacco.
Good luck with this one. Trusting it will improve in performance and give you some great smokes.
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby ratatosk » Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:12 am

Congratulations on the new Pete, Sir. The only pipes I've bought in a while are both Peterson Natural Spigots and I was quite pleased to see that they finally remembered how to make a nice pipe after a decade or better of some fairly marginal efforts. I suspect that you still have to go into the mid-range even now, but you are there with this pipe.

At any rate, I've kind of gotten away from worrying about break-in rituals. A few years ago, I got Rad Davis to carve a pipe for me and asked him about break-in after it arrived? He said just fill it up with what you like and smoke it. Good enough for him, good enough for me.

I was buying a lot of new Dunhills and Castellos for a while- the coated Dunhills took 1 bowl to become champs, the un-coated Castellos two bowls. Obviously, they all just got better from that point on, but I never experienced any of the traditional misery associated with a new pipe 20 years ago. I will add that my latest Petes fell into the same general category, no off taste or other weirdness, ready to rock after a couple of bowls.

All of that said, I still always introduce myself to a new pipe with a bowl of Prince Albert. Internet Legend says that it will build cake faster than anything else, etc., but I just find it an easy blend to use for this. Almost nothing can go wrong, as is true with most of the old Merican geezer blends.

Enjoy the pipe and relax with it!
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby Nomad » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:54 pm

Thanks, chaps. It's getting there - had another bowl of Gravedigger a few nights ago, and only put it down once, and managed to not put it down at all last night with a bowl of SLF (which was also a very enjoyable smoke).

It was a winner from the aesthetic standpoint right away. I've always liked the general Dublin shape, although this is doesn't widen as much towards the top as some. Nice taper to the stem as well. I had seen it on MySmokingShop and thought it was nice, but didn't do anything about it. A couple of weeks later, I was mooching again, saw it was still there, and decided to buy it.

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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby Geo3rge » Wed Oct 18, 2017 4:05 am

A handsome pipe. Glad you were able to get it. I’ve been eyeing a couple myself and wondering about them. Each time I visit the site I wonder if they are still there! Enjoy it. It looks a good pipe. I would go along with you on the aesthetics and this Dublin’s slight flare at the rim seems to fit with me too.
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby KevLa » Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:57 am

She looks good to me. Enjoy smoking her! :)
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby Dodger » Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:13 pm

Love the grain on the bowl .
Enjoy it for many years .
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby acaciavet » Sat Oct 21, 2017 4:07 pm

Fellows I used to do all the fad things when breaking in a New Pipe.Then An old pipe maker told me fill it smoke it slow every day for a week and its broke in! .Love the Grain on your new Pipe enjoy
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby Geo3rge » Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:24 pm

Sound advice, Chuck. Thank you. I’m getting to the point where I seem to bypass the fads and just do the thing. Not sure if it’s impatience or what. Hope all is well with you. Thanks again.
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby Hermit » Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:20 pm

I'm also with the "just smoke it" crowd.
Just don't smoke it hot.
Don't like bowl coatings of any kind and I sure ain't gonna smear food in it. :lol:
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Re: Breaking In A New Pipe

Postby ratatosk » Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:42 am

acaciavet wrote:Fellows I used to do all the fad things when breaking in a New Pipe.Then An old pipe maker told me fill it smoke it slow every day for a week and its broke in! .Love the Grain on your new Pipe enjoy

yup, Chuck, fill and smoke for a bit and you're good if it is a good pipe.
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