Has Peterson Quality Really Declined?

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pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,803
7
On another thread, someone noticed that estate Petersons, like the humble Donegal Rocky line, were selling at prices close to the price of a new pipe from the same line. In response, rothnh wrote:
Today's Peterson Donegal is, IMO, a shadow of it's former self and very much inferior so it would be logical, and expected, for older Donegals, a much better pipe, to at times go for more than a new one.
Has anyone else noticed a dramatic decline in quality? I own two Peterson pipes -- one is a Donegal Rocky I bought a couple of months ago. Mine is absolutely fine, but the briar isn't nearly as sweet or dry-smoking as my older Peterson Kenmare. I assumed the difference was a matter of one finish (the Kenmare) being slightly more expensive than the other, but perhaps no.
I'm curious to hear what others have noticed regarding Peterson quality.

 

mrenglish

Preferred Member
Dec 25, 2010
2,192
2
Columbus, Ohio
Overall, I think they have. Mainly due to engineering issues and their increased demand. I picked up a Kapp Royale and the bowl was deeper than the draft hole. For a supposed higher end pipe of theirs, I was a bit disappointed. I've had a few other issues like the stem not being bent correctly on a 01 shape and a XL106 that looked like part of the bowl was cut off. When you look at it from the front, there is a nice straight cut at an angle where there should have been a nice rounding.
That said, I have learned to ask lots of questions if buying online. I've been on a Peterson binge this year and by far, they have been the easiest I have ever broken in. With the exception of two Kapet's I bought that needed the stain removed, I have not had any issues breaking any of them in. I tend to get more gurgle than other pipes and this (I believe) is due to the gap between the tenon and the briar. Something about how they are mostly drilled for a 9mm filter but adapted for the American market.
Very few of the bent pipes I have checked out will pass a pipe cleaner, so if I want a bent, its either a military bit or system pipe. I would definitely purchase another, in fact I am getting an ebony 317 system later today.
Their bowls are not turned at the factory, but rather in Italy where they source their briar from, then finished at their factory. Demand is way up which is why I think they are having quality issues, that and too many different lines of pipes.

 

yaboofive

Member
Jan 28, 2010
181
1
I agree, it is hard to find a New Peterson without some engineering flaw, that being said I do have an emerald with an off center draft hole that I use at work as my thinking pipe that smokes better than some of my finer pipes... Life is sometimes funny that way.

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,803
7
Perhaps I got lucky with the drilling on my Donegal Rocky lovat, but it's perfectly straight and the draft is much nicer than on my other Pete -- I only had to open it up a little bit to get it the way I like it.
Too bad about the quality control issues others have seen. Again, it seems I got lucky.

 

numbersix

Preferred Member
Jul 27, 2012
5,452
1
This topic arises every so often, and I hope the Peterson people take notice.
Here's my two cents... I don't think the fit and finish of Peterson's has gone down in quality so much as I think their manufacturing methods need improving.
I bought a $70 Aran and the fit and finish is excellent. However, break-in was a b*tch. Gave a bitter taste to the tobacco for way longer than any of my other pipes. Now however, it smokes very well and it's a handsome pipe. Their higher priced pipes I hear don't have this problem.
In this interview, Managing Dir at Peterson Tom Palmer says they cork the pipes before dip staining and says this should fix the problem. My guess is, either they're not corking the pipes on a consistent basis or they're doing a poor job of it.
http://btheinternationalpetersonpipeclub.runboard.com/t262
I think it comes down to style. As much as I like Peterson's, if I had to choose between a $70 Stanwell or Sav and a $70 Peterson (and all 3 were equal in looks and appearance), I'd probably not choose the Peterson. Still, there are some Peterson models that are just gorgeous and I'd be willing to put up with the longer break-in.

 

sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
974
12
I went to a "Peterson Night" at a local pipe club last year. I was totally ready to buy a pipe, cash in hand. And I looked and looked and looked, and not a single pipe there out of about 40 or 50 pipes was without some significant flaw. Crooked or loose metal work, poorly bent stems, poor drilling, terrible sanding and finish on the smooth pipes - even the Year pipe had sanding scratches near the shank, and this new "dipped in liquid plastic" finish (I assume it's an acrylic resin) looks awful, imho.
So to me, it's a brand that needs some help in the QC department. I've got a couple GREAT Peterson pipes, but looking at what I saw last year.... I won't have any more, not new ones, anyway. For 100 or 150 bucks, I can get a really solid pipe out of Italy. Right now, I'd say Savinelli's quality/dollar is higher.

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,803
7
Sasquatch wrote:
I looked and looked and looked, and not a single pipe there out of about 40 or 50 pipes was without some significant flaw. Crooked or loose metal work, poorly bent stems, poor drilling, terrible sanding and finish on the smooth pipes - even the Year pipe had sanding scratches near the shank[.]
Wow, that's pretty serious. I bought my Peterson 53 from smokingpipes and apparently they send pipes back to the manufacturer when they're not up to snuff. Like I said, the one I have is fine.
Even still, I was disappointed with the rustication Peterson uses on the bowls. It's like the stummel was held up to a wood chipper or something. The result is very rough and not nearly as deep as you would like. Strangely, the rustication on the shank seems to be more traditional and perhaps done by hand. Is the wood chipper finish a new thing for the Donegal Rocky line, or has it always been that way?

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,803
7
OK, this is really strange. I just checked out the Petersons on smokingpipes and most of the Donegal Rockys and Kapets have really nice rustication -- very much unlike my 53 with the wood chipper finish. Check out these two Kapets and you can see the difference clear as day. Good rustication first, wood chipper finish second:



 

numbersix

Preferred Member
Jul 27, 2012
5,452
1
I looked and looked and looked, and not a single pipe there out of about 40 or 50 pipes was without some significant flaw.
Seriously? That is much worse than I would have expected. 'Tis a shame.

 

mrenglish

Preferred Member
Dec 25, 2010
2,192
2
Columbus, Ohio
[Briar is from Italy, but the pipe bowls on the low to mid range Petes are turned in Spain, actually]
Cool, thanks for that information, rotnh.

 

rd02sir

Senior Member
Nov 1, 2011
416
0
i bought a system standard 314 from Peterson of Dublin in Dublin. I'm over all impressed with the quality of the pipe. Maybe they have higher standards for their store front, but have yet to have any problems with it.

 

deleon

Preferred Member
Nov 7, 2011
579
0
I have a few Peterson pipes and luckliy I've seen nothing wrong with any of mine in design, maybe I've been lucky but it does make you think twice about buying online unlesss you see somewhere online next to the picture you're looking that you're getting the pipe shown in the image.

 

taerin

Preferred Member
May 22, 2012
1,853
0
My first Peterson System Standard, and had to return it because a chunk of the bowl the size of one of my entire fingertip of my pinky was chewed off by what looked like a woodchuck or some other rodent (from Iwan Ries, didn't even bother to look at it before shipping, like I asked). So he sent me another one, this one was missing the band! Come to find out Peterson misdrilled it so much, the band did not match the stem and ended up getting caught on it, hence why it came off. So I am done with Iwan Ries, the guy just doesn't make sure the pipes are in good shape even when asked, even after the first time a problem came up!
I now turned to Ebay, got one from a highly reputable seller. It's band was also misdrilled and deeply gouged the stem upon removal! I sent it back and turn to yet another Ebayer, on my fourth try I settled with one that had a rim that was not round (jagged) and 6+ fills with some very large noticable ones. The briar itself also feels very cheap. It's band was also not drilled quite right, so the stem must be very carefully removed to avoid gouging it on the metal band which protrudes into the stem area. My thoughts were, it was not going to get better than this and I was like $30 into shipping costs on an entry level pipe!
All I can say Peterson is you have failed me, I will never buy another system standard from you again brand new.

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,803
7
Wow, Eric. That's a horrible experience you had with Peterson. You deserve a medal for perseverance! Surely someone from Peterson is noticing threads like this one and maybe something will be done about it.

 

hfearly

Preferred Member
Oct 11, 2012
822
0
Canada
Not buying any Peterson made past the year 2000 anymore. My experiences with "newer" ones are noted here: http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/peterson-metal-band-fell-off
That said, in an estate lot that I received today, I found a Peterson 317 shape from around the WW2 area (Round Made in England stamp). Looks very well manufactured from what I can tell through all the grime ;-) Wouldn't expect my 2010-made 301 to last for 70 years ... well pipes were still pipes back then, I guess.

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,665
657
United States
Sorry people but Peterson obviously does not give a crap about their customers. They continually send out inferior pipes by the thousands hoping their customers dont complain too much. They are aware of their quality control issues yet do nothing because people keep buying their pipes. Unless people refuse to do business with them, they will continue the status quo.

 

lordofthepiperings

Preferred Member
May 3, 2010
6,320
32
Las Vegas, NV
This topic has been mentioned a lot. I'll say this, I own five Petersons in three different lines and they all smoke wonderfully. The draw is great on all of them, they smoke pretty cool, and the grain and staining on them is nice as well. Chalk me up as one who believes you get a really good pipe at a really good price.

 

sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
974
12
I will recant a bit here, I thought hard about the pipes I looked at in person, and there were a few that didn't have obvious flaws.
But... I picked up a lot of pipes at that showing. The metal band (on the stem) fell off of one when I opened it up. Lots were misdrilled, the nickel cap was loose on a few system pipes, stems were crookedly bent throughout, fit and finish was pretty bad. Open a pipe up and find chunks of briar or globs of pre-carb sitting in the airway....
If someone had brought me this batch of pipes and said "We are a new pipe manufacturer, we would like your opinion of this product." I would say "Come back when you have the quality control issues dealt with."

 

hfearly

Preferred Member
Oct 11, 2012
822
0
Canada
Do they even have quality control? No I'm not joking, I'm serious. Maybe with the current economic climate in Europe the two workers who'd sign off on the lower-grade pipes were replaced by a stuffed teddy bear with much lower payroll ...

 

jdto

Junior Member
Nov 11, 2012
89
0
That's sad and a little scary, Sasquatch. I've been lucky with the two Petes I bought new. Both of them smoked nicely (after I applied a bit of mud to bring the bottom up flush with the draft hole, that is). They broke in well and it was tough to sell them, but I ended up feeding my PAD with other pipes.
(Nice avatar, by the way, Sas) :D