Pipe Life Expectancy, New And Estate

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mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,695
1,066
Like any other material object, pipes don't last forever, and probably most hit the landfill or incinerator before they are actually unusable. I advise newbies to buy pipes carefully because they can be a lifetime possession, or nearly so, if they are used and maintained well and stored carefully when not in use. I have the first pipe I ever bought, new, a Tinderbox St. Ives smooth bent pot, forty years ago, and it still smokes just fine and looks rather good as well. Some of the restorations I have seen on Forums seem to be as good as new, maybe a little better. Not a few members have run photos of pipes one hundred years old or more. To balance out the averages, I suppose pipes do get lost, damaged beyond the owners ability to repair them or have them repaired, or simply abandoned. What's the oldest regularly smoked pipe you have? What do you consider the average expectancy? Do well refurbished pipes have a second full "lifetime" ahead, as they appear to have? I also advise newbies to keep at least a select rotation of their pipes since even determined quitting sometimes gets reversed after some months or years. What is your experience and what are your expectations?

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,902
905
Well since you're asking about regularly smoked, Id have to say it a 1906 Barling bent billiard, a large pipe that smokes fantastically well. I have older pipes that I've smoked, but not on a regular basis. The question of whether a refurbished pipe can continue on for another life time depends on the condition of the pipe. A pipe can be cleaned up to look pretty sweet, but if it's been abused and the wood has suffered some sort of structural damage, no amount of cosmetic surgery is going to make a difference. A carefully smoked pipe could give a century or two of service.

 

bazungu

Member
Feb 28, 2018
109
0
I do wonder if a pipe has basically 'endless' life if it is a pipe that has been gently smoked (with gently I mean not hot) 1-2 times a day and carefully handled to not drop/break it. Or perhaps I should phrase it as: what would be the first thing to break down? Does the briar eventually burn out no matter what or does the pipe start tasting so bad after 100 years of smoking that no water rinse/salt/alcohol/ozon treatment can ever save it?

 

mikethompson

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
4,203
408
The oldest pipe I have is a pre-war Bulldog, but I would hardly call any of my pipes 'regular smokers'. I see some of the restoration jobs posted here sometimes and I wonder if a pipe can be used indefinitely- stems can be replaced, finishes re-finished, and bowls reamed.

 

rdavid

Preferred Member
Jun 30, 2018
654
2
Milton, FL
Interesting question mso but the variables involved are infinite.
I’m guessing that a properly smoked and cared for, well constructed pipe would easily last multiple generations.

 

d4k23

Senior Member
Mar 6, 2018
301
7
When would one consider a pipe ready for the trash? I saw Cosmic use glue to fix a newly dropped pipe. And I have seen amazing restores.
I have a couple estates I'm hesitiant to clean as they are so charred where the bowl meets the shank (what I would call burn out) I am not sure it's worth the trouble and time to prep the stem and get it smoke worthy.

 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
16,771
2,268
When would one consider a pipe ready for the trash?
I've thrown away many just because they had fallen out of use or they didn't live up to my standards.
I have a couple estates I'm hesitiant to clean as they are so charred where the bowl meets the shank (what I would call burn out) I am not sure it's worth the trouble and time to prep the stem and get it smoke worthy.
Got any pics?

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,695
1,066
I often mention this but it is relevant. My dad smoked only one pipe at a time, from age about 15 to 65, when he quit cold turkey. He smoked from just after breakfast, with time out for meals and specific job tasks, until bedtime, and only smoked Granger, with a few years off for only King Edward cigars, then back to pipes. So I was able to observe the lifespan of continuously smoked pipes. He did not rotate pipes. I think he owned a reamer, but used it extremely sparingly, with maybe some educated reaming with his pocket knife. A child's sense of time (mine) is not so accurate, since six months seems like forever, besides which you become a substantially different human being over that time. But as best I an remember, his continuously smoked pipes lasted about two years, give or take. These were medium grade briar pipes available at that time at Chicago downtown (where he worked) newsstands. I think he regarded pipe shops as fussy and overpriced; he was a successful guy but also a child of the Great Depression, so he was no-nonsense about money. But since most pipe smokers don't smoke continuously, and most have at least some rotation, and some have vast rotations of pipes, his was a specialized "experiment," but informative. At least at that time, pipes had approximately two years of continuous daytime smoking in them before crack or burnout of the briar. Had he rotated pipes, and had say six, and rested them with time to dry, they likely would have lasted longer.

 

d4k23

Senior Member
Mar 6, 2018
301
7
Got any pics?
Two pipes, same makers, different burns. Neither of these pipes are stellar lookers, so I am thinking I don't want the trouble of salvaging them.

This one is burned on the outside. And the inside has a significant part of the chamber burned away.

And the other one looks like the shank burned. Can't tell if its from the inside out or outside in.



 

bent1

Member
Jan 9, 2015
235
1
WV
Can’t speak for briars, but I’ve never worn out a cob. I have a couple cobs that are going on 10 yrs old.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,546
418
I am not sure it's worth the trouble and time to prep the stem and get it smoke worthy.
You are really the only one who knows the value of your time and effort. Looks like they might be good candidates muddle around with, try different techniques or ... even some new ones. Nothing to loose.

 

condorlover1

Preferred Member
Dec 22, 2013
3,691
448
New York
Hell most of my stuff is 100+ years old. The only thing that wears out constantly are the amber-ite stems but the meerschaum pipe bowls with certainly out last me!

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,453
1,097
The English manage to keep things in use in families for hundreds of years. I've seen silver servers and trays that go back to before the Revolution still in use by some families, and that still doesn't compare to some of the antiques you'll see being used in England. Today, we are such a disposable society. Clothes rarely last more than a season, and most things either go out of style or diminish quickly with use. Rarely do we repair things anymore. We just rarely ever expect things to last. But, I remember some banter with a forum member from somewhere in Europe, where they were going on about 100 years seemed like such a long time to us, Americans, and 100 miles seemed like a long distance to Europeans. :puffy:

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
14,396
2,068
Monterey Peninsula
Yes, right on. If you want to feel old- or historic, go to Australia. There, the locals will point out with pride a building that's 90 years old. Sometimes older!

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,695
1,066
To keep things in perspective, my long-ago erstwhile Middle Eastern brother-in-law used to say, here in the U.S., if something is sixty or seventy years old, it's an antique. In my country, something has to be two thousand years old before it's an antique. Before that, it's just old junk.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
14,396
2,068
Monterey Peninsula
He was full of it. Antiques in the States, by definition of antique collectors and dealers, are a minimum of 100 years old.
Besides, many antiques and historical spots in the Middle East have been shredded by bombs and despots.