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A Question About Acrylic vs Vulcanite

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  1. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    Why do so many pipe companies use strictly acrylic stems and relatively few use vulcanite? Most of the artisan pipe makers use vulcanite so why not bigger companies. I have noticed that almost every Italian maker use only acrylic. Is it just as simple as cost per stem? Is it harder to make vulcanite stems?

    Those of you who restore pipes, I am pretty sure you guys would rather see an acrylic stem on a pipe rather than vulcanite as they are simple to restore. Do pipe smokers in general stay away from vulcanite because of ease of care? There are so many pipes I would buy if they had vulcanite stems. Is it just old guys like me whose teeth hurt from plastic the only ones who care about vulcanite?

    Harris
    Posted 1 year ago #
  2. theloniousmonkfish

    theloniousmonkfish

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    I think with the Italians it's about having a perpetually shiny stem. A well cut acrylic stem gets my preference for ease of maintenance, but they tend to have chunky buttons. I just prefer a good stem, whatever material it's made from.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  3. ssjones

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    I've wondered the same about the Italian factories and acrylic.

    Al

    Posted 1 year ago #
  4. chasingembers

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    Those of you who restore pipes, I am pretty sure you guys would rather see an acrylic stem on a pipe rather than vulcanite as they are simple to restore.

    Not me, I enjoy bringing those old stems back to shiny black. I would say they are opting acrylic for its longevity. I have seen oxidation go all the way through a stem into the airway.

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    Posted 1 year ago #
  5. chasingembers

    chasingembers

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    I've wondered the same about the Italian factories and acrylic.

    Even some Italian handmades such as Bruto Sordini's pieces have acrylic stems.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  6. philobeddoe

    Philo Beddoe

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    I prefer acrylic and wish more artisan carvers would give acrylic a try, if you don’t clench, vulcanite seizes to have much appeal. I have plenty of vulcanite stemmed pipes, but as I get older I buy fewer and fewer of them, acrylic is more or less maintenance free and always looks great.

    "So it goes." - K.V.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  7. sasquatch

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    In rod form, ebonite is about 5 times as expensive as acrylic - couple bucks a pipe over 100,000 pipes... adds up.

    I would guess cheapish vulcanite blanks would be about the same cost as acrylic blanks though.

    Supply in particular areas may be an issue, preference for bright colors... certainly the Italian pipes are mostly acrylic, and of course most hand-cut stuff is ebonite because it shapes so much easier (and because that crowd of buyers generally expects/prefers it).

    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. ssjones

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    The modern rod stock used by many (most?) artisans does seem to oxidize at a much slower rate than those on older estate pieces.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. thesmokindragon

    thesmokindragon

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    I like the feel / comfort of vulcanite , but due to being lazy I don't like dealing with maintenance and oxidation issues on higher end pipe, so I opt for acrylic stems when available. I have seen some acrylic stems on some Italian pipe makers such a Ser Jac, Radice, Cav , etc. make outstanding acrylics , buttons on point and comfortable.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. bluegrassbrian

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    The Becker Im smoking now is one of the very few Ive seen with an acrylic stem. Its a "hyper-pencil shank" lovat with a stem to match, so it's made pretty damn narrow. Quite comfortable really.

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    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. mso489

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    For pipes up to a certain weight, I like acrylic for ease of maintenance and spiffy appearance. For heavier pipes, Vulcanite is just easier on the teeth and I'm willing to abide the foggy oxidation and perpetual shining up. But either will do if I like a pipe otherwise; I have some small pipes with Vulcanite and it's fine. As to why pipe makers choose what they do, I suspect it is about cost, convenience, and familiarity.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  12. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Not all acrylics are the same. George Dibos made me two stems using a higher grade material that feels like vulcanite. So now I have the best of both worlds, the "give" and comfort of vulcanite and the ease of maintenance of acrylic.

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    Posted 1 year ago #
  13. paulie66scandinavian

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    What is suppose to be the so called cumberland stem,Is it either made of acrylic or vulcanite?

    Paul The Scandinavian'
    Posted 1 year ago #
  14. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    What is suppose to be the so called cumberland stem,Is it either made of acrylic or vulcanite?

    Actually, both. Cumberland stems first appeared as vulcanite, with two colors swirled together. It's also made in acrylic. The acrylic is generally translucent and the vulcanite is opaque.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  15. cigrmaster

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    Jesse, do you have those other stems for your Barlings? I have noticed that my Barlings don't oxidize nearly as bad as an Upshall or old Savinelli. They are in the same range as new Dunhills I once owned.
    How much does George charge for that other type of stem?

    Al mentions the new type of vulcanite and some of it is great. For example I once owned 2 Ferndowns that never showed any type of oxidization. Some of my artisan pipes will show a little but I just rub some Obidisian on them and they shine back up. Eventually all my vulcanite stems will need more than just stem oil and that is when I bring them to my local b/m so he can shine them all up.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  16. georged

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    Regarding acrylic cumberland/brindle, here's a sample.

    To my eye, the delicate striations of the vulcanite version isn't convincingly replicated:

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    Posted 1 year ago #
  17. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Jesse, do you have those other stems for your Barlings? I have noticed that my Barlings don't oxidize nearly as bad as an Upshall or old Savinelli. They are in the same range as new Dunhills I once owned.
    How much does George charge for that other type of stem?

    Harris, you would have to check with George about prices. The stems I had made were for a 1915 Barling sterling mounted billiard that is my father's birth year. Barling used a very high grade German vulcanite, sometimes referred to as "para rubber". So their stems hold up better than many other makers' stems.

    Different British makers had different emphases regarding materials. With Sasieni and Charatan it was great wood with OK stem material. With Dunhill it was OK wood with great stems. With Barling it was great everything. That's how two of Dunhill's top level dealers, both of whom collected Barlings for their personal use, defined it to me.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  18. chasingembers

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    Here's a vulcanite cumberland, and my preferred.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  19. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    Jesse, that is cool having your dads birth year pipe. Are the Barlings like Dunhill where the date of the pipe is easy to see?

    I like Cumberland stems the best for a sandblasted pipe. For some reason on smooths I like straight black.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  20. kola

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    I avoid any pipe with a plastic stem. Too hard and clanky on the teeth and not very good for clenching.

    I search out for real cumberland...love the green and reds. And yes, German vulc is best, little if any oxidation has been my experience.

    What I dislike is how the definition of "cumberland" is blurred. I have to ask a seller or crafter, "Is it REAL cumberland or plastic look alike cumberland?"

    I treat people the way they treat me. It's that simple.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  21. zack24

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    I’m a big fan of the Ebonite produced by SEM in Germany- they have some amazing variations on colors- I always pick up some of their limited edition colors in Chicago. The Japanese material doesn’t come close. My understanding of the biggest difference between vulcanite and Ebonite is the amount of sulphur in the material. About the only acrylic I use is the amber/tortoise color which looks really good on replacement stems on old meerschaums...

    Posted 1 year ago #
  22. lasttango

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    I prefer the ebonite/vulcanite also. My teeth are somewhat sensitive and I like to clench. With Italian pipes, I understand Il Duca prefers vulcanite or ebonite.

    Some acrylic stems do seem better/softer than others. I can definitely tell the difference between the cheapie plastic one with sharp edges on my Mr. Brog from the smooth seemingly softer one on my Boswell.

    I have one pipe made by Julius Vesz that has a real amber stem. What's the deal with real/natural amber? It's actually the pipe I am smoking in my avatar.

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    Posted 1 year ago #
  23. paulie66scandinavian

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    Some valuable information here,thank you,I just managed to snap the tenon of my Savinelli Bings favorite cumberland stem,the tenon itself was made of some kind softer plastic like material and it broke apart when twisted it out from the bowl mortise(despite the fact that pipe was sufficiently cooled down)now this pipe is on its way to Germany for resteming (German made vulcanite)and today this Bings favorite is becoming one of my most expensive pipe taken the consideration the fact it was ordered from U.S with all import duties and overseas shippings,but I couldn't leave it at that.Obviously I'm Still learning from my repeated mistakes.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  24. popeofpiping

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    I much prefer vulcanite. More enjoyable to clench imho

    Posted 1 year ago #
  25. jpmcwjr

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    Question: Say you have an acrylic stem that's simply bulky.... How can one trim it down safely?

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  26. menuhin

    menuhin

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    I have a love and hate relationship with my pipes with acrylic stems.

    I love to look at my pipes with acrylic stems. They are beautiful and give me peace of mind - almost maintenance free. However, the moment I put a pipe in my mouth, especially when I may want to clench it, I want it to be vulcanite / ebonite.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  27. chasingembers

    chasingembers

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    Question: Say you have an acrylic stem that's simply bulky.... How can one trim it down safely?

    The button or the whole stem? If just the button, I would use fine files.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  28. npod

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    Harris, I have had a similar journey as yours. I love my Italian pipes, but the older I get the more I find comfort in artisan Vulcanite/ebonite stems. In the past 2 years I have had lots of dental work and since then the Acrylic does in fact hurt my teeth. So now I enjoy my Italian pipes hand held only.

    I almost considered selling off my Acrylic stem pipes to transition to only to pipes with Vulcanite/ebonite and weighing less than 45 grams, my sweet spot.

    Artisan ebonite vs Castello Acrylic. Very different beasts.

    Neal
    Posted 1 year ago #
  29. georged

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    Question: Say you have an acrylic stem that's simply bulky.... How can one trim it down safely?

    Just treat it like it came only 99% complete from the original maker, and remove the final 1% of material yourself.

    When given the same amount of shaping attention, there's no difference in comfort between Lucite and vulcanite in my experience. Many smokers THINK there is because they've only known blocky, thick, chunky ones.

    That's more an artifact of circumstance than anything else, imo: the companies that introduced acrylic after WWII happened to be cost-conscious ones that only produced low-effort stems WITH the new material.

    If Dunhill had introduced it, in other words, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  30. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    npod, that pic you posted is a perfect example. The artisan stem on the left is so much thinner and shaped so it is perfect for clenching.

    George, so you are saying that if someone were to put the time in to create an acrylic stem like on npod's, I would be fine clenching it?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  31. npod

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    if someone were to put the time in to create an acrylic stem like on npod's, I would be fine clenching it?

    I've been told by various pipe makers that the laws of physics prevent Acrylic from being too thin without risk of cracking and breaking easily. There is a certain "minimum standard" to Acrylic that doesn't apply to Vulcanite/Ebonite.

    For me it is often more about the large buttons on Acrylic stems. Yuck.

    Here is a very (very) small Castello at only 29 grams. Very small Acrylic stem. But it still feels like a brick in my mouth compared to artisan stems when fully clenched (like when walking around hands free, etc). And yet, I love her so.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  32. cigrmaster

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    Here is my Occhio Di Pernice. The stem isn't that thick, yet it still hurts. The pipe weighs around 40 grams.

    I only bought it because I had always wanted an Occhio( plus I stole it) and I thought I could handle the acrylic on a fairly light pipe.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  33. georged

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    George, so you are saying that if someone were to put the time in to create an acrylic stem like on npod's, I would be fine clenching it?

    I'm saying only that the two materials cut to identical dimensions could rarely (if ever) be told apart by most smokers if they were unaware which was which. (If told, something called "confirmation bias" kicks in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias ).

    Whether or not YOU would be fine with npod's stem is a different question. Lots of variables involved with liking/disliking a stem. I'm saying that if a stem was right for you in every other way, it wouldn't matter whether it was made of acrylic or vulcanite.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  34. cigrmaster

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    George,

    I'm saying that if a stem was right for you in every other way, it wouldn't matter whether it was made of acrylic or vulcanite.

    Here is a Mike Butera that I have owned for a while now and the shape and button are pretty good, and very similar to my other artisan made pipes. He uses acrylic and I can definitely tell the difference. I will say that it is more comfortable than my Castello acrylic stem.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  35. georged

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    I've been told by various pipe makers that the laws of physics prevent Acrylic from being too thin without risk of cracking and breaking easily. There is a certain "minimum standard" to Acrylic that doesn't apply to Vulcanite/Ebonite.

    I think what kick-started that story was the same companies which wanted to save money by stopping short of "complete" shaping (resulting in thick, clunky stems), also sourced inexpensive/low quality material. Cost accountants rule the world, right?

    The truth is acrylic can be insanely tough. It's what bullet-proof "glass" is actually made of. Ditto the "glass" canopies of jet fighters.

    If high quality material is used, it has the same dimensional limitations as hard rubber. I've made hundreds of the things, and have yet to hear back that a single one has broken.

    The pipe in the following pic is one of my own. An acrylic-stemmed Dunhill Tanshell that I posted a couple months ago in this thread:

    http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/dunhill-tanshell-59-amp-peterson-1905-billiard-replica

    Notice the reading on the caliper --- .140" (3.556 mm) That's significantly thinner than most pipe makers recommend for vulcanite.

    I'm a clencher, the pipe is a favorite, and the stem is about seven years old.

    .

    Posted 1 year ago #
  36. menuhin

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    ...I'm saying only that the two materials cut to identical dimensions could rarely (if ever) be told apart by most smokers if they were unaware which was which...

    Hi georged, I thought about your hypothesis, and the idea can be examined empirically with pipe smokers blindfolded testing out stems with identical specs. For the test, if acrylic stems cannot be filed down so easily, vulcanite or ebonite stems can be shaped thicker to the size of acrylic stems.

    Before such an experiment is conducted by anybody, my intuition is acrylic stems can be more comfortable for clenching if the pipe is down to a certain weight which varies across smokers, e.g. a very light Stanwell POTY 2010 in Bing shape made clenching quite bearable. However, my intuition is also that acrylic is harder and therefore less comfortable. This is my personal judgement with my clenching attempts on stems made of different materials, including nylon (Falcon, and some corn cobs I believe) and clay etc. According to (my own personal) clenching comfort I will rate the stem materials as follow:

    Nylon > Ebonite / Vulcanite = Horn > Amber > Acrylic > Clay / Ceramic

    As example, for a heavier pipe, or due to its shape e.g. a straight pipe, I have to clench on the side with my molars/premolars - and I have to hang onto it harder. With a pipe with ebonite stem, my thinking goes like, "I may make some bite marks onto it, so I have to be easier on it"; in the case of acrylic stem, it is usually like, "hmm.. it is getting painful, I don't want to see my dentist and have her telling me that I chipped my teeth...".

    Posted 1 year ago #
  37. menuhin

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    It is eye-opening to me about the better than original replacement acrylic-stem on the Dunhill Tanshell, and of course with an indistinguishable white-dot.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  38. cigrmaster

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    George, very interesting. You make me want to send you my Castello to verify you can make me a comfortable acrylic stem. That would be kind of fun if you could do it. I could start buying Castello's again, which would actually be a bad thing, I don't need more pipes, but damn I miss smoking Castello's.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  39. danish

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    Very interesting thread, since for me, the stem is maybe the most important part of a pipe and I doubt the feeling of softness is biased, although I would prefer liking all stems Softness of stems may actually be measurable? I have strong teeth but never liked acrylic stems so much, no matter thickness, buttons etc. and also can feel the difference, apart from stem design, between ebonite/vulcanite used by different manufacturers in the past.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  40. kola

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    A few taps of a stem on my teeth and I can definitely tell the difference between plastic and vulcanite. And it be easier if I took a clench or two on them. Even a thin well-sculpted plastic stem wouldn't fool me into thinking is was vulcanite. I flat-out despise plastic stems and refuse to call them "acrylic". They are PLASTIC. Cheap plastic, dolled up with pretty swirls and colors.

    I have a few very nice pipes with plastic stems and have thought about having ebonite/cumberland stems custom made for them. I never smoke them.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  41. mrmotoyoshi

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    This is something I’ve wondered about for a long time as well. In my own made up history it had something to do with the relations of Germany and Italy post WWII (I have no proof of this mind you). It’s interesting while most of the world’s pipe makers use vulcanite, the Italian school for the most part sticks to acrylic. I do appreciate the work of Italians that work in ebonite/vulcanite predominantly; Il Duca, Gabriele, Becker etc.

    My collection leans heavily towards the Italian school of pipe making so acrylic is a preference at this point. Although I don’t have anything against pipe makers that prefer the allure of using highly polished dark ebonite.

    I disagree when people say lucite is inferior and unable to be crafted for comfort; there’s an early Ser Jacopo billiard in my collection that has the most comfortable stem I’ve ever come across. A high grade acrylic can still be very comfortable. The stem on my Old School Pipes/Cardinal House lovat is superb.

    I'm an expert in my own opinion
    Posted 1 year ago #
  42. philobeddoe

    Philo Beddoe

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    Kola, just curious as to why you call acrylic = plastic and yet you don’t call vulcanite or ebonite = rubber, as that is what they are, hard rubber?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  43. menuhin

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    ...why you call acrylic = plastic...?

    I feel really intrigued by this question, because I know what polymer, acrylic, urethane, nylon, natural rubber, silicone, ... etc. are, but I don't think I have a definition of "plastic" readily in my head. For example, are all plastic polymer? Is being a polymer a necessary condition to have a material defined as "plastic"?

    I looked up the notoriously inaccurate and usually not up-to-date Wikipedia and found that perhaps Toffee and thick Caramel can also be defined as "plastic" in terms of etymology:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic#Etymology

    Posted 1 year ago #
  44. danish

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    This is a link where acryl is called plastic.

    "The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys".

    Pipes=toys

    Acrylic=plastic

    Pipes with acrylic stems= Plastic toys

    Just for fun. I do have pipes with acrylic stems that I appreciate, but would have preferred they had 'rubber' stems :-).

    Posted 1 year ago #
  45. menuhin

    menuhin

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    ..."The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys"...

    It sounds like the teens of the billionaires can skip puberty.

    And I wonder what stem materials does the old and the new aristocracy prefer, if they smoke(d) a pipe?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  46. kola

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    I have no issues calling ebonite aka vulcanite aka cumberland "hard rubber." I like calling plastic stems "plastic" because it makes them sound cheaper and junky. And IMO, they are "cheap junk". It's my personal way of taking a jab at plastic stems as I dislike them terribly. It's just me spouting a personal opinion and nothing more. There's humor somewhere hidden in my tone of typed words.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  47. olkofri

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    Guess one of the advantages of being a tyro is that I can't really tell or feel much difference betwixt acrylic and vulcanite. I've one Brigham with a vulcanite stem and I can't say it's better, as far as I'm concerned, than my Vauens' acrylic stems.

    I wouldn't call acrylic 'plastic'. For plastic, as in cheap, it's what you find on MM's cobs. Now THAT is cheap plastic!

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    Posted 1 year ago #
  48. kola

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    Tis' a good point,olkofri.

    And far too often I find a great looking pipe that I'm interested in only to find out it has a plastic stem. It's a huge deal breaker for me. And as I mentioned earlier I have some high end pipes I bought with plastic stems (thinking I'd adjust or grow into them) and they just sit there on the rack. Thus my thoughts of having a carver fit them with hard rubber cumberland.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  49. menuhin

    menuhin

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    ...For plastic, as in cheap, it's what you find on MM's cobs. Now THAT is cheap...

    I think if a stem is produced by the process of injection moulding and if it is not thoroughly polished to remove the rough injection moulding marks, it will feel "cheap".

    It actually feels quite good to bite onto a stem BPA-free nylon stem - a bit chewy but leaving no bite mark. However, while most nylon is stable till above 200°C, it may slowly degrade over time; and materials that are soft and elastic such as silicone probably cannot be turned and shaped in a lathe. There has to be some better solution with the advancement of material science, just hope that by the time someone invented it, the culture of pipe smoking and pipe tobaccos still exist.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  50. npod

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    Harris, I thought more about this post. Here is an exception. It dawned on me that the Italian full bent pipes with acrylic stems are fantastic and do not hurt the teeth at all. For example, the Castello (or other brand) Oom Paul (Hungarian) is one of my favorite pipes for when I'm in the garage using my hands or tying flies (fly fishing). I can keep them in the jaw all day if need be with no pain. Same with the bent billiard. If my house was burning down these would get serious attention for first out the door.

    Example

    Example

    And to make it more interesting, I actually dislike my two artisan full bent pipes with ebonite stems. They are flimsy and attract teeth marks easily. I have to "baby" them and that takes away from the enjoyment of smoking hands free. I'm actually thinking of selling these two moderate smokers.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  51. hoosierpipeguy

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    I must be in the minority, I prefer acrylic stems. The vulcanite stems feel a bit rough on my tongue. I do hate the thick acrylic stems, i refuse to own a pipe with one. As long as it fits comfortably between my teeth and is drilled correctly, I'm comfortable with either.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  52. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    I just don't care if a stem is acrylic or vulcanite. I only care if it's comfortable.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  53. blendtobac

    blendtobac

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    To get back to the original question, I think it has to do with the quality of the vulcanite that Italian factories used to use. I have a number of Savinellis from the seventies that had vulcanite stems that oxidize pretty badly. In talking to some pipe makers, I was told that they used Italian vulcanite that had a higher sulfur content, while the German version has less and resists oxidation better. Savinelli probably got tired of the negative comments and decided to go to acrylic - just conjecture on my part.

    Russ

    Posted 1 year ago #
  54. cigrmaster

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    npod, great looking Castello's. My lone Castello is not a full bend like yours and is not comfortable. I might have to try one with a full bend like yours.

    All of my artisan made pipes have the high quality German vulcanite and stand up to my clenching very well. They also don't oxidize anything like the old Savinelli's that Russ is speaking about. I had an old Autograph that oxidized badly. I also have an older James Upshall that oxidizes as badly as the Sav I used to own.

    I have known about the older sulfur laden stems for a while now and have avoided them for the most part. All of my Pre Transition Barlings have stems that don't oxidize at the drop of a hat. They definitely used a higher quality vulcanite back in the day as compared to Upshall and Savinelli. Also my Willmers and my lone Lane Era Charatan have vulcanite like my Barlings.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  55. paulie66scandinavian

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    Yes,based on my older older Savinellis their vulcanite stems tend to oxidize pretty badly,yet I'm encountering similar experience to happen with few English makers,particularly,with Peterson and Blakemar,

    Posted 1 year ago #
  56. mikefu

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    My pipes are about 50/50 acrylic vs. vulcanite. It’s pretty simple for me- I smoke vulcanite stems for hands free (yardwork, driving, etc) and acrylic when I’m relaxing. Or mostly at least. The acrylic, while not hurting, per se, is just way less comfortable to clench. I usually buy based on aesthetics and feel, them divvy up on use based on stem comfort. That being said, I prefer the added maintenance of vulcanite when weighted for comfort.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  57. perdurabo

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    Does cleaning an Acrylic stem with Everclear really damage the stem? Any ideas from the experts?

    It's not my position nor want to help another man. It's his responsibility to help himself, as where he can learn to dig down deep enough to save himself. -I. Kidd
    Posted 1 year ago #
  58. sasquatch

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    I cut some thin chips of a rod and soaked them in methyl alcohol - no effect after 24 hours. I can't see how ethyl alcohol would be any worse. Acetone or lacquer thinner I can see damaging plastic, but I have no evidence that alcohol damages acrylic. I know it is supposed to make it "craze".

    Posted 1 year ago #
  59. thomasw

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    I just don't care if a stem is acrylic or vulcanite. I only care if it's comfortable.

    Exactly, Sablebrush! Both are equally uncomfortable depending on the form.

    After some time he felt for his pipe. It was not broken, and that was something. Then he felt for his pouch, and there was some tobacco in it, and that was something more. Then he felt for matches and he could not find any at all, and that shattered his hopes completely.

    The Hobbit
    Posted 1 year ago #
  60. seacaptain

    seacaptain

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    Do pipe smokers in general stay away from vulcanite because of ease of care?

    This is true for me. I like low maintenance acrylic, and I love Savinelli pipes, so I get the best of both worlds.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  61. chasingembers

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    Does cleaning an Acrylic stem with Everclear really damage the stem? Any ideas from the experts?

    I've never seen potable alcohol cause any damage, but have seen isopropyl leave a white haze.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    ukbob

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    Give me an Arcylic stem any day, I find them more comfortable than vulcanite stems .

    All so less maintenance.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  63. mso489

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    Good quality Vulcanite polishes up nicely for many years, but it does take some work. After twenty years or so, some Vulcanite will polish up, to a degree, but it takes more work. It's unusual that decades old Vulcanite holds a polish for many smokes, but I guess it happens. Some restorations on Forums bring totally cruddy Vulcanite back to looking new. If you can use acrylic, especially with pipes of modest weight, it certainly makes maintenance quicker and easier, year after year, if your old teeth bear up.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  64. crashthegrey

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    ukbob, do you clench? We can argue all day about what looks better and whether the maintenance is easier or worth it, but I've never heard someone claim that acrylic is actually comfortable.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  65. jpmcwjr

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    Crash- I think George D makes that very claim. Me, I am agnostic as to type. Comfort is key, and fat bits don't do it for me when I clench.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  66. georged

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    After decades of this conversation, I'm pretty sure that EVERYONE is "right."

    The differences in stem hardness perception are because humans' teeth vary. Ask any dentist, they'll tell you that teeth fall into a range for everything from enamel thickness and hardness to sensitivity.

    Me? Genetically good choppers run in my family. I've never needed serious dental work, and my parents and grandparents on both sides (who were born in the 19th century!) kept all theirs for their entire (and long) lives.

    One of the fringe benefits of that? As long as the shape & thickness is the same, I can't really tell the difference between vulcanite and good acrylic. A bit of pipe smoking genetic luck, that. Like someone who wants to be a gymnast being born flexible, or someone who wants to be a military pilot being born with exceptional eyesight.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  67. mso489

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    A little off track but just a comment ... I don't think acrylic faux Cumberland stems look like the authentic Vulcanite versions, but I think they are attractive in their own right. Any experienced pipe person is going to spot the difference, but the general effect is pleasing in acrylic to me.

    Posted 1 year ago #

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