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What Is So Great About Castellos

(76 posts)
  • Started 3 weeks ago by workman
  • Latest reply from pipingfool
  1. workman

    workman

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    The title says it. I see a lot of love for Castellos. Everyone seems to agree that they are great smokers.
    I've been very satisfied with my pipes from Stanwell, Savinelli and Chacom. They all smoke well. So what makes a Castello better in your opinion?
    They cost 2-3 times more. Are they worth it, compared to the above mentioned brands, and why?
    Don't tell me it's because they look better. They don't and that's not what I'm interested in anyway.

    Smoking is one of the leading causes of all statistics.
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  2. georged

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    It doesn't matter in any sort of "breakdown" sense. Objectivity and quantification doesn't apply in cases where a large group of people simply Feel a Certain Way About Something.

    Hollywood used to refer to it as the "It Factor" when auditioning starlets.

    Why is the Ferrari 250 250 GTO considered the most beautiful performance car ever built by enough people to make the statement true?

    I'm sure Sasquatch will weigh in on this one. He's both a Castello lover and a philosopher.

    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  3. workman

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    I was hoping that as well

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  4. alaskanpiper

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    They don't and that's not what I'm interested in anyway.

    This is a subjective statement. I think some do look better. I also think some don't, it depends. I just got my first Castello, so I will weigh in more on this when I've had some time to smoke it more. I also own an Ashton, and to me, I do notice a difference in the way it smokes over the Savs/Petes, etc. that I have. Enough to warrant the additional cost? Probably not.....

    I'm sure their famed 10 year minimum aged briar has something to do with it for some people. Does that make them smoke better? I don't know.....Does it make them last longer.......maybe?

    I'm sure alot of it has to do with collecting for some people also, but there is probably some of the above mentioned "it" factor as well. Same reason Coach bags cost a paycheck or certain shoes cost thousands or whatever. "Luxury" branding I suppose, something that allows the buyer to feel like they are part of an elite club or exclusive community. A sense of achievement of some kind for being able to afford "high end" shit. Of course anyone for whom this is the driving force behind the purchase (consciously or subconsciously) would certainly deny that up and down, so we'll never know for sure, hahaha.

    I guess we'll see what the experts say. Good question.

    "We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us." ---Hank

    "Yeah, well, you know that's just like, uh, your opinion, man..." --- The Dude
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  5. olkofri

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    I'm yet to own a Castello. Promised that when I got a job I'd buy one with the first paycheque —hasn't happened, so I'm still smoking Vauens, Brighams and, ugh, cobs.

    However, I've heard that, unlike other makers which will use any part of the briar, Castello will only use plateaux; this part of the briar is the best: having been exposed to the elements has hardened it (the image of the gold having its purity/worthiness being tested in the crucible comes to mind) and imbued it with better smoking qualities. That's probably one reason why they're better.

    Not the sweet, new grass with flowers is this harvesting of mine;
    Not the upland clover bloom...
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  6. hoosierpipeguy

    hoosierpipeguy

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    In my own experience, I've found Castellos consistently smoke better than any other factory made pipe? Why? I would assume it is the aged briar combined with their expertise.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  7. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    Unlike Dunhills, Castellos have a deserved rep for actually being worth the extra premium over Savs or Stanwells. I've yet to buy one myself, but I've known more than a few from seeing them from the perspective of being behind the counter.

    My love for Savs & Stanwells is of course well known, & I base it on quality & bang for buck. I've seen crap Dunhills & they cost an arm & *2* legs. I've never seen a garbage Sav, ever. And the Castellos I've seen have always been even better than my beloved Savs -- grain, drilling, stamping, fit/finish. Dunhills I've seen have been double even Castello pricing, & frankly nowhere near as good. Dunhill = mystique. Castello = quality. Period.

    B

    Head Black Frigate keelhauler, boss powder monkey, & troublemaker 1st class.
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  8. georged

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    My love for Savs & Stanwells is of course well known, & I base it on quality & bang for buck. I've seen crap Dunhills & they cost an arm & *2* legs. I've never seen a garbage Sav, ever. And the Castellos I've seen have always been even better than my beloved Savs -- grain, drilling, stamping, fit/finish. Dunhills I've seen have been double even Castello pricing, & frankly nowhere near as good. Dunhill = mystique. Castello = quality. Period.

    Confirmation bias 101.

    I've seen construction/design techniques used that were unforgivably, hideously bad on both Savinelli and Castello. Pipes that were literally not repairable/recoverable when damaged and/or smoked past a certain point. Hell, I own one of them.

    And, from time to time, Castello QA allows apparent "beginner's projects" out the door. Laughably bad examples of shaping that would draw fire on the pipemakers forum critique board if they were an aspiring carver's third-ever pipe.

    Dunhill has made some notable clunkers as well---their Collector series in the 70's was spectacularly horrible---and their shaping has been off and on since around 1970. I've never seen a functional design problem with one, though. Not once in 45 years.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  9. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    -laugh- Okay, george, I'm willing to accept that you got all the bad ones in the world & I got all the good. I also admit I've only worked in 6 or so shops off/on over the last 50 or so sun-cycles, so I could be suffering from too small a significant sample behind the scales.

    B

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  10. georged

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    More likely you didn't see what you were looking at.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  11. npod

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    They pass a pipe cleaner (always).

    Neal
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  12. swan

    swan

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    Honestly I don't consider Castello factory pipes if you see how they are made.
    They are great pipes, made with the best briar you can find.
    Yes, shape are not always at the top but some other times you are able to find authentic jewels.

    My only issue with them is the acrylic stem which I cannot stand, I sold almost all my Castellos for this reason, together with any other pipe with an acrylic stem.
    I kept 4 or 5 and they smoke great, nothing to say.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  13. sasquatch

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    What makes Castellos a great pipe?

    Same thing that makes other great pipes great. Physics.

    Allow me to philosophize. When Dunhill got into making pipes, he realized that there was a market going unserved - the high end "this is really perfect" market. I don't have the book in front of me but he says something like "Most people pay 50 cents for a pipe, and then complain that it's a piece of crap, because it is. We are selling pipes for 5 dollars, which is unheard of, but they're great, and people love them." To make a really good pipe, you have to do a bunch of things kind of carefully - drilling, shaping, fitting etc. This takes time. Yes, it's EXACTLY the kind of stuff you should, in theory be able to mechanize and keep a tight tolerance on. In practice... you need eyes and hands to really do it, to dial in every pipe.

    But eyes and hands are expensive. It's actually easier (obviously) to manufacture low-tolerance one-size-fits all stuff and then add some kind of 10 cent miracle ingredient - an aluminum whirligig for example, something to separate your pipe from other, ostensibly lesser pipes. There was a sort of space-race in this regard, back in the day. Every pipe had a magic something or other. Dunhill never really did though - the magic was that they made these pipes with very smoothly fitted interiors - even their magic aluminum fitment was... just a plain tube.

    Castello carries this tradition further - no tube, no nothing. Briar and a stem. Drilled correctly, polished out, lined up. And ... by golly... that's all there is to it. You buy good briar, you sit on it for a couple years (Castello says ten, I believe them, but 2 is probably enough to see real stabilization of the wood). You build a pipe carefully out of the wood, you line up holes, you make things smooth, and bingo, the thing is a cracking smoker! It's that simple.

    It's hard enough to do that most pipe companies don't even try. I think it's quite correct to NOT call Castello a factory pipe. They are not really factory-ish in a lot of ways.

    Are they all perfect exemplars of the pipe making craft? Hell no. But even the eccentric examples I have seen have mostly not been BAD. And I've seen BAD from a lot of other makers. Some makers really specialize in mediocrity. Some only occassionally rise to mediocrity. Castello seem to half way give a shit, to put it bluntly.

    Yet they are not perfect pipes - the drilling can be a little off, or a little rough. The slotting in the stems is... a joke, honestly, compared to American artisan standards. Buttons a bit wonky, shaping... well, find a good one I guess. But smoking? Yeah, they work.

    For the physics part... what we're talking about is getting a hot gas from point A to point B in one piece. Give it a nice, smooth ride. You do that, you got yourself a pipe.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  14. sasquatch

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    So.... earlier this year, in a fit of madness, I bought a Savinelli Punto Oro Gold. Nice looking piece of wood, supposed to be Savinelli's flagship pipe. Nice billiard, tight little sandblast. I smoke the thing... it's adequate. 200 dollar pipe, so yeah, half the price of the equivalent Castello.

    Heel gets hot. Like I mean, hot hot.

    So I look into it. And the thing is drilled... downhill.

    You can see the airway angled DOWN.

    Down.

    So yeah the briar in the heel measures like... .02" or something. There's nothing there. It'll burn out eventually. Unless I'm just ultra careful.

    Nice looking pipe though.

    Go to tabacheria corti. Find a Castello, put it in the cart, watch the price drop by 22% because you are not in Italy, and enjoy a real decent pipe. 50 bucks more I coulda had a castello and not this stupid savinelli. Grrr!

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  15. lochinvar

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    I can't tell you if its worth more for everyone or not. To me, they are great smokers and worth what I have paid for them, but I usually buy estate so even my more expensive smooth Castellos were cheaper than a new Sea Rock. I have eight and everyone of them smokes perfectly, or should I say, perfectly for my smoking habits. Their stemwork has always produced a comfortable stem especially the shaping and size of the button, as I tend to let pipes hang in my jaw. As well, I prefer an open draw, which they have...wide open on the later Kino ones. I've yet to have one with a construction issue, so they are either well made or I'm living right. Aesthetically, I find them superior to every Italian pipe, save Rinaldo. Yet again, that is to my eye.

    The way they smoke is the major draw for me. Some people have described Castellos as being a brighter smoke. To me, they bring out the broader flavors in Virginas, while making Latakia too sharp and metallic (I only have one Castello that smokes Latakia well, and it makes Bengal Slices a champ). Their combination of physics and briar create a great platform for the smoke.

    If you find a Castello that grabs you, try it if the price is agreeable. If you're looking for the Holy Grail of pipes, you'll be let down no matter how it smokes. Nothing lives up to hype, hype leads to letdown.

    Now I'm going to light up the greatest pipe ever made, a No Name merely stamped "Algerian Briar" and "Made in France". It was made no later than 1959, cost me $30 and blows every Castello, Dunhill, Stanwell and Savinelli out of the water:)

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
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    paulfg

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    I must be the only one who doesnt get on with castello's
    i have had 3 and sold them all as i found the Acrylic stem not to my taste and the draw way to open for my liking.
    each to their own I guess

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
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    oldgeezersmoker

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    My love for Castellos is well known, but they are by no means perfect pipes, always. I have owned one, a 65, that absolutely would not pass a pioe cleaner, and several that would only pass one if you hooked and twisted it carefully. I have owned any number of G, GG, and GGG 75’s and 32’s (Lovat and Canadian) whose draft holes were so far away from the bottom center of the bowl as to be a joke.

    Yet 90% of my pipe budget (a nebulous concept) ends up buying new and estate Castellos. In the past, Castellos were so hard to find that you had to put up with the occasional clunker. You don’t anymore if you buy where you have a return privilege.

    I have owned numerous Savinellis and a few Stanwells. I had a big black bent Dublin Autograph sandblast that I would love to have back.

    I do find that overall my current collection of Castellos smoke better for me than the pipes that they have replaced, I smoke lots of different tobaccos, and I almost never taste a ghost. Yesterday I smoked a bowl of McConnell Scottish Flake in one that had previously been smoked with GH Louisiana Flake, not the heaviest Lakeland out there but still a definite Lakeland. No hint of a ghost.

    Sasquatch has noted in a previous thread that the first three or four bowls in a Castello are really where the extra age shines. I would expand that to the first 8 or 10 bowls, which is what I allow to break in a new one (usually, and fortunately still for the foreseeable future, with McClelland 5100, 5105, those two mixed, or 2010), and I believe that the extra aged briar combined with that level of attention to breaking one in has virtually ghost proofed the Castellos I have owned since new. I will smoke any thing in any of them with nary a thought given to “dedicating “ one to a certain tobacco type. Estates are a different story, but I can usually bring them around to that point.

    But I fundamentally disagree with a major premise of the OP. You also smoke with your eyes. Around 1984 or 1985, I went to my first pipe show, put on by Bruce Spencer’s long defunct Pipe Collectors International in Chattanooga TN. At that time, I owned exactly one Castello, and I counted myself fortunate to own it as the shop I frequented got about 1 a year. They certainly had nothing in their inventory that looked like it. I was somewhat impressed by the collections of Dunhills,Charatans, etc. that greeted me on arrival in the front row, but I had seen many examples of those brands by then. But I turned a corner, and laid eyes on Chuck Rio’s Castello collection, Sea Rocks for the most part. I was totally blown away. It was only then that I truly realized the artistry behind the name. And only then that I understood why Carlo Scotti was honored for design in Italy, where they appreciate that sort of thing.

    To this day, I don’t think I have ever pulled a Castello from my rack without that mental picture of Chucks table flashing in front of me. I was 34 or 35 years old then, and I have never, ever been able to view pipe smoking as a utilitarian exercise since that experience.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  18. chasingembers

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    They pass a pipe cleaner (always).

    That's always the deal maker or breaker with me. Out of three Dunhills I've owned, two straight billiards and one zulu, none passed a pipe cleaner. My Castello 293 never failed.

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    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  19. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    More likely you didn't *see* what you were looking at.

    Hey, now, be nice. -grin- I was just being agreeable. I knew & know what to look for in a good pipe & a bad one, & did work in that many shops in addition to 50+ years of my own on the customer side of the counter. Like you, I can only go by my own experience, which is what I did. No real need to go assumptive & derogatory; I didn't with you, right?

    No worries either way -- we can all only go by what we ourselves have experienced when forming our opinions. Mine've all been good & yours've not, & that's really all either of us've got. I'm perfectly willing to be happy with that & not call your capability/judgment into question.

    B

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  20. voorhees

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    They pass a pipe cleaner (always).

    Damn Neal!

    Jason
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  21. georged

    georged

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    Fascinating stuff, Bill. First you conclude a series of declarative statements with the one-word sentence "Period" to emphasize their clarity and lack of ambiguity; then, when called on it, try to dismiss the subject entirely since variations in perspective must be allowed for, yadda yadda.

    You can't have it both ways, I'm afraid.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  22. cachimbero

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    I have 11 Castellos. They all rate from outstanding to above average in the performance section. Of course, as I chose them, they are all very beautiful to me. It is my favourite briar "factory" pipe, although I have more Dunhills than Castellos. If I began again I would go "all" for Castello in a serially produced quality pipe. Not a single one smokes worse than over average. Stems are acrylic, and you may like that or not, but, as acrylic goes, my experience is they are top notch. Recommended (from my experience).

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  23. captpat

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    I can’t offer a “scientific” explanation however a Castello is what I most frequently reach for out of my collection that includes a variety of manufacturers and shapes. A combination of aesthetics and trouble free smoking I guess. YMMV

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  24. workman

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    Lot of good info so far. I said in my OP that they don't look better. Well, I really don't find them prettier than many other brands, generally speaking, but they have some shapes that appeal to me. Several of their straight billiards and apples and also some of the bents.
    I've seen some straight billiards weighing 23-24 grams, but with reasonable chambers nonetheless and then there are massive heavyweighters with huuuge chambers.
    What do you guys prefer?

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
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    frozenchurchwarden

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    A few years back there were a bunch of forum threads ranting about how great Castello is with their 5/32” (or larger) draft diameter. I’m sure they’re generally top quality pipes, but this should be the most significant functional difference over most factory brands. http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/drills-sizes-request-tutorial
    The only other pipe brand with a consistently open draft size that I know of is Missouri Meerschaum (specifically the plastic stems, from what I can tell the new vulcanite and acrylic stems are not drilled out beyond the default draft).

    I like to drill out most of my pipes for a larger draft (usually just 1/8”, but even that is often an improvement over stock drilling).

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  26. georged

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    A few years back there were a bunch of forum threads ranting about how great Castello is with their 5/32” (or larger) draft diameter.

    Castello's airway size has varied over the years. There was a period where a fiber tube (wood?) came fitted from the factory, effectively identical to Dunhill's aluminum tube. In those pipes, there was an internal step-down in the airway to keep the tube in place, and the bore diameter through the stepped-down area was quite small --- 2.75mm / .109".

    In general, people hated the new "feature" and it didn't last very long. (Some smokers prefer a "sip style" draw, but most don't and thought the pipes smoked badly.)

    For a while, though, teeny-bore Castellos could be bought at a discount, since enlarging airways can be a tricky business.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
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    bigpond

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    Great post Todd!

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  28. paulie66scandinavian

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    Good info

    Paul The Scandinavian'
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  29. sasquatch

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    I just happened to buy one such "vintage" castello, a piece one of the Italian dealers picked up from their museum, so to speak. The draw is indeed a pinhole, a very very different critter than a modern Castello, and in no way better. I don't mind a tighter draw, and slightly restrict the draw on pipes I make, but this thing was pretty hard to smoke. I have opened it a bit and it's better.

    Bought a modern Sea Rock 65 a week ago, it's excellent, and yeah, 5/32" or so, nice and smooth.

    In terms of size, workman, I have everything from G to kk, which is huge to teeny. I like the teeny one a lot, but honestly, it's very very small, and the airways are also very very small.

    I'd shoot for a medium sized pipe, 30 t 45 grams, anything else is unpleasantly heavy, and a kkkk size is good at everything.

    a tiny kk billiard and a kkkk bent dublin

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  30. sasquatch

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    Something like this in a heartbeat.

    https://tabaccheriacorti.com/gb/pipes/2569-castello-old-sea-rock-kk-shape-17.html

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
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    oldgeezersmoker

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    [quote]I just happened to buy one such "vintage" castello, a piece one of the Italian dealers picked up from their museum, so to speak. The draw is indeed a pinhole, a very very different critter than a modern Castello, and in no way better. I don't mind a tighter draw, and slightly restrict the draw on pipes I make, but this thing was pretty hard to smoke. I have opened it a bit and it's better.[quote]

    For decades, this was the way Castellos were made. The number, a 3 or a 5 on the stem, told you the size of the reed (inner tube) to use. Almost no one did. They were, to me, great smokers, but in the 1990’s a certain wealthy and prominent collector and one pipe “expert” repairman loudly proclaimed on every available print and digital platform that they needed to be “opened up.” Monkey see, monkey do. Barely competent people started drilling them out, and abortions are common. It is now somewhat difficult to find unaltered estate pieces from the era that interests me the most, the 1960’s and 1970’s, when Scotti ran the place. The factory has long since succumbed to the “market” preference for Holland Tunnel airways, leading to thicker and less comfortable lucite bits, IMO. But there are exceptions in the smaller sizes. I have a k petite billiard purchased from Bollito a few years back that seems to be drilled to the old dimensions and has a very thin, comfortable, lucite, mouthpiece. What is the practical difference? Well, a bowl lasts longer in it than a kkkk 54 purchased about the same time with the wide open airway and a larger chamber. I would measure the bowl capacities, but a friend expressed interest in the 54 and he now owns it. I do have a few new Castellos from the Kino era. One has passed into the keeper category and the jury is still out on the others.

    Of course, when I started with Castellos, the old style was all that was available. Without thinking about it, I suppose it was me that adapted my packing, cadence etc., to the pipes. But the very idea that the newer ones are “better” in this regard is equivalent to saying Carlo Scotti didn’t know how to make a pipe. YMMV, IMO, of course, and I am resigned to the fact that this battle was fought and lost by the people who agreed with me decades ago.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  32. sasquatch

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    To me, the practical difference is that if the airway is a pinhole, ANY moisture at all will fully occlude it and the thing will gurgle and spit.

    I bought the "vintage" pipe hoping for a non Holland-Tunnel airway, as you put it, and got just that, but it is, imho, too far the other way (I do have a current production billiard that is too open and does feature a fairly stout bit). There's a wide middle ground of "excellent", but I thought this old pipe was just so restricted it wouldn't smoke well, I tried a half dozen bowls of different cuts, moistures, etc, and after tweaking the pipe just a bit (put a bevel on the tenon end, which was pretty rough, and opened the slot just a bit) suddenly the thing is playing along.

    But there's for sure no single right or wrong here, it's a sliding scale of preference - on one end, a pipe you can't get a pipe cleaner through is not going to be much fun, and on the other end, the milkshake straw airway is maybe easy to smoke but probably a hot burning flavorless mess for most users.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  33. cigrmaster

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    I prefer an open draw as it allows me to pack the pipe more firmly which gives me a better smoke. My lone Castello has what I would guess to be around a 4.5 mm shank opening. I have quite a few artisan pipes that are similar. One of my best smokers is a Michael Butera Apple that is as wide if not a tiny bit wider than my Castello.

    Harris
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  34. jfred

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    What got me into Castellos in the first place, was the great reviews they mostly receive and a good availability in my local B&M. I had my first Castello early in my pipe smoking journey, so the open draw feels natural to me.
    I also really like most of their shapes and finishes, and I just love the taste of a new Castello, so I'm in no hurry breaking them in

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  35. georged

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    ...but in the 1990’s a certain wealthy and prominent collector and one pipe “expert” repairman loudly proclaimed on every available print and digital platform that they needed to be “opened up.”

    That's a mischaracterization. Rick not only wasn't loud about it, he accompanied every instance of mentioning his airway diameter preference with a clear and separate "add on" disclaimer that there was no right or wrong in the matter, only personal preference in a "How strong do you like your coffee, or how spicy your hot sauce?" sort of way.

    It's true that because his first book was a collection of essays written over a period of years---which were then printed intact as chapters---his mentioning of that airway size preference happened frequently within the book, but that's it.

    All he is guilty of is underestimating the power of groupthink in the PipeWorld, combined with the inherent laziness of humans in general. Who doesn't want a better smoke? Once the "secret" got out (so to speak) everyone jumped on the bus whether they knew how to drive or not.

    Since those days, Rick has expressed regret many times that his personal preference was interpreted AS such a "secret," and the frequent damage caused by kitchen table repairmen which resulted. That knowing what he knows now, he would never have mentioned it.

    As for the "expert" repairman you refer to (I assume the quotes were sarcasm), I can only think of two who might qualify. Jim Benjamin, who never claimed to be one (he just did clean-ups); and Ronnie B. who definitely was legit. His airway smoothing/tuning procedure had nothing to do with enlargement for its own sake, though, but focused on a balance of proportions and minimizing turbulence. Neither of those men came remotely close to "loudly proclaiming on every available print and digital platform that [all] pipes needed to be opened up" though. Ronnie had a single page on his website which described his procedure and the physics/rationale behind it; and Jim rarely dealt with anyone except through the mail. He disliked non-personal interaction.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  36. samuelgawith01

    samuelgawith01

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    If you believe in them,then buy them.I’ve had more than a few pass through my hands over the years,and still own four.
    Their smoking characteristics vary,depending on the stem internals,but in general,they smoke well.I have a #55 where I wish that the opening in the final half of the stem was a bit larger,while the channel in the shank is open to my liking.I like a more open,and turbulence free smoke channel,and I have found this to make a noticeable difference in how the smoke tastes.
    What’s great about them? In my opinion,nothing.Maybe the marketing.I like them in general,nothing more.Dunhill also markets a well made pipe,that from my experience smokes consistently well,with perhaps stems with a more open draw than the Castellos.I like them,nothing more.This not to say that you won’t have in your collection an individual Castello,or Dunhill that doesn’t smoke “great”.
    Dunhill’s marketing was and is great.In comparison,I have an eighty dollar house made Canadian from Blue Room Briars that smokes every bit as well,if not better than any Castello I’ve ever
    owned.Yes,this Canadian is a very good smoker.The tobacco is very well represented flavor wise in this pipe.And I’ve owned sixty dollar pipes with good shank drilling,but horrible stem work,so that it masked what good smoking qualities the pipes may have had.With a bit more effort on the stem,the sixty dollar pipe could have performed as well as a seven hundred dollar pipe.OK,enough from me.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  37. sasquatch

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    LOL George, when I have built pipes to as close to Rick's specs as I can (or as I understand them), the result is people say "Wow, I can't believe how good the pipe smokes." I think "open draw" is pretty relative (relative to size of bowl, length of shank all kinds of physical stuff). But if you do in fact build a pipe to the Newcombian spec, they are real decent smokers. I think Castellos are closer now to the American standard of constant-volume engineering, where Rick's, or my take on Rick's, is actually about building a venturi, and taking advantage of the pressure effects thereof. Both ideas work fine, again, this is science, but not rocket science maybe!

    I don't remember anyone loudly proclaiming anything - what I've seen is a group of smokers become both more educated and more choosy about how their pipes are built. There is less mystery now, less "luck of the draw", and that's a damned good thing imho.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  38. workman

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    Sorry if I'm a little slow, Sasquatch, but can you elaborate on the "constan-volume engineering" vs your venturi effect? I'm not sure I understand this.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
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    “Constant Volume Engineering” means any given length of the air passage maintains the same volume. The real tricky part is the button, transforming a round passage into a slot that will contain exactly the same amount of air.

    For a readily available example, Missouri Meerschaum did an amazing job with their plastic formed stems. I don’t know if it’s engineered to exactly maintain volume but you can see an almost perfect taper from round airway to the rectangular slot, the only place you’ll find that kind of geometry in Acrylic or Vulcanite would be on “the best of the best” high end pipes.
    (I’m not saying Cobs have perfect stems but sometimes you have to admire what they did accomplish.)

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  40. tobefrank

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    “Constant Volume Engineering” means any given length of the air passage maintains the same volume. The real tricky part is the button, transforming a round passage into a slot that will contain exactly the same amount of air.

    I’m assuming that you mean that the cross sectional area of the air passage is constant from bowl to button (in terms of size, not in terms of shape)?

    I’m quite interested to learn more about the Venturi effect as well. Is this when the draft hole in the tenon is slightly smaller than the rest of the air passage such that the smoke accelerates (slightly) towards the button?

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  41. sasquatch

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    Yeah, constant-volume would mean that the cross-section (round in the shank, flat and rectangular at the button) area of the airway is the same at all points. So you are moving the shape of the tube from being a 5/32" round hole to an equivalent size of rectangle (kind of like the ducts in your house being 3x10 rectangles as the terminal points of a 5" round tube, right?).

    One way to do this is to not slot at all - just bang a 1/8" hole all the way through the stem - this is essentially what Wiley pipes look like. Nice draw but a thick stem for it.

    A venturi is a tube that tapers, and the flow rate has to increase through the taper. Why would this be good? Bernoulli's laws suggest that the pressure of a liquid on the sides of the pipe it's flowing through varies inversely with the speed - if the gas is zipping through the line there's hardly any interaction with the walls of the pipe, and that ought to mean there's less time/inclination for condensation. So to build a pipe this way, you would use whatever drilling you like, 11/64" I think was pretty near Rick Newcombe's spec, and you taper that down through the stem to the bit, where you'd have the point of greatest restriction somewhere just inside the end of the stem. You could terminate it there, P-lip stems do just that, or you could make a slot for greater comfort after that. But at this point, the hot smoke is zipping along, hardly interacting with the walls of the tube (the inside of the stem) and not condensing and gurgling.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  42. disinformatique

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    As George D said, its about the it factor and everything else is psychological if shaping, drilling, staning, stem work is good enough.

    Cant tell whats good about Castello yet, my first Castello is awaiting restoration

    Cheers,
    Chris

    Albert Einstein was once quoted as saying, “I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs.” One of the reasons behind this statement is that pipe smoking is meant to be a slow leisurely activity. It takes patience to smoke a pipe. Unlike cigarettes and cigars, there is a certain amount of technique to smoking a pipe. Where cigars and cigarettes can just be picked up, lit and puffed on, pipes require the development of a technique in order to get the best smoking experience.
    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  43. mso489

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    I know Castello makes a range of sizes, but in the U.S. market I think it is the primo luxury brand for extra large pipes. They fulfill a promise to make a perfectionistic pipe in design and function in some of the larger/largest sizes.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  44. paulie66scandinavian

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    Any pipe weighing over 1,41oz/40gr is too heavy to my liking

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  45. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    Fascinating stuff, Bill. First you conclude a series of declarative statements with the one-word sentence "Period" to emphasize their clarity and lack of ambiguity; then, when called on it, try to dismiss the subject entirely since variations in perspective must be allowed

    Oh, good grief. [chuckle] Remind me never to be figurative here again. BTW, veiled attempts at sarc-snark personal put-downs have little to no effect on me, since I very seldom let anything much get under my skin. However there are of course others around who might be, shall we say, less forgiving.

    B

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  46. huntertrw

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    What Is So Great About Castellos?

    They have been famous for years and years. Here's a picture of Abbott and Castello:

    Love Me, Love My Pipe
    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  47. chasingembers

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    Wouldn't that be Costello and Castello?

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  48. bnichols23

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    But there's for sure no single right or wrong here, it's a sliding scale of preference - on one end, a pipe you can't get a pipe cleaner through is not going to be much fun, and on the other end, the milkshake straw airway is maybe easy to smoke but probably a hot burning flavorless mess for most users

    Agreed, sas. All relative, all personal preference, & personal experience. Like a few bosses I had in the military who seemed to think that because they had the brass & I had extensive experience in my field, their opinion was better than mine because they disagreed with my judgement. Not many of them lasted very long, because they often also thought they knew more that people in their own fields who had more experience. Fortunately I also had a lot more who weren't as arrogant. They got along with everyone, brass or not, a lot better.

    Bill

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  49. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    Wouldn't that be Costello and Castello?

    Yup & yup.

    B

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  50. georged

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    Oh, good grief. [chuckle] Remind me never to be figurative here again. BTW, veiled attempts at sarc-snark personal put-downs have little to no effect on me, since I very seldom let anything much get under my skin.

    I'm delighted to hear that your feelings are intact, Bill.

    Words cannot convey the depth of my concern in that regard.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  51. sablebrush52

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    I own two Castellos and love how both of them smoke. Are they appreciably better than any other pipe that I own? Nope. But then again, I own a number of great smokers. Above a certain price point, you're paying for looks and care in construction.

    Every maker has its specialities. Your never going to see birdseye like this on a Stanwell:

    That's not a knock on Stanwell. I have several of them and I like how they smoke. It's just not what they're about.

    And as oldgeezersmoker wrote,

    You also smoke with your eyes.

    And the beauty of this Occhio di Pernice, as well as my other Occhio de Pernice, contributes to the pleasure I experience when smoking them.
    And no maker hits a home run with every pipe. I've smoked Barlings that were great, and Barling's that were only so so, same with Dunhill, Sasieni, Comoy and other makes. Fortunately, the two Castellos that I own are both great smokers, and the fit never varies to any appreciable extent, which was not true with most of my Dunhills, and a few of my other Britwood pipes.
    Are Castellos "better" than all other pipes? Is any one maker better than all other makers? In my experience, no. But Castellos offer me an effortless smoke, as do many other makes. They offer me pleasure, as do many other makes. And as an end user, that's what I care about.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  52. workman

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    Birdseyes aside, that shape is great, Jesse. A very good take on the bent billiard IMO.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  53. jfred

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    My goodness, sablebrush, that Occhio di Pernice is out of this world! Does it have a "k" grading? If so I'm guessing it must be 4k.
    I own 4 Occhios, 1 "k" and 3 "kk", and they are beautiful, but the birdseye on this one is just on another level.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  54. georged

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    So.

    This is frustrating.

    I've seen pretty much every American carver's work including lots of beginners. Alexander Hasty, whose pipes were discussed here a couple days ago, is a good example. Though being quite new to carving, he would never in a million years put his name on a pipe with the line problems seen here.

    In fact, I can't think of a single maker of high(er) grade pipes---company or individual---who would. Anywhere in the world. Outside of Italy, that is.

    Hold on...

    Could such casual/sloppy shaping actually BE some sort of "Italian thing" that you'd have to live there to "get?" Something akin to exaggerating an object's "hand made-ness" to PROVE it isn't a machine-made item?

    Stranger cultural things than that have evolved, to be sure. (Japan's obsession with ultra-cleanliness having created a generation of young adults who have compromised immune systems being a good example).

    So, the choices seem to be:

    1) They literally can't see and/or don't notice weird/goofy/sloppy lines

    2) They see them but don't care (a.k.a. people buy our stuff anyway)

    3) "Are you crazy? You want a handmade item to look balanced and perfect? The correct amount of casual slop is something we work very hard to achieve!"

    .

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  55. hoosierpipeguy

    hoosierpipeguy

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    George, how many out of 100 pipe smokers have your eye? I think, very few if any. I'm sure Castro counts on that.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  56. alaskanpiper

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    Meh. I could smoke it without puking my aesthetic guts out in a fit of maddening rage. But then again, I don’t know shit about shit........thank God.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  57. sablebrush52

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    Hi George,

    So what you call shaping sloppiness I call an aesthetic choice. And since I have 50+ years making my living as an artisan craftsman as well as fine artist, I know the territory as well as anyone. The lines you propose are perfectly fine if the intent is to create a proportionate flowing shape. But it is not the only way to shape, and clearly this was shaped to be more angular. Frankly there's nothing wrong or incorrect about how this pipe is shaped, nor how it smokes for that matter. It's simply a different esthetic than yours.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  58. georged

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    Frankly there's nothing wrong or incorrect about how this pipe is shaped, nor how it smokes for that matter. It's simply a different esthetic than yours.

    Not just mine. If the pipe were posted on the pipemakers forum critique board, every experienced carver there would think---and say---the same thing.

    Telling in the extreme is that the pipe's primary line problem---its wasp-waisted shank---looks EXACTLY like someone got heavy-handed when leveling the stem/shank junction on a French Wheel... which happens to be the tool used for that purpose in the Castello shop.

    Referring to laziness, a mistake, or a lack of skill as a "different esthetic" is a charitable stretch, I think.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  59. alaskanpiper

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    I absolutely refuse to smoke pipes with a wasp-waisted shank. I’ve always said that, FROM DAY 1!!!!!

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  60. georged

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    I absolutely refuse to smoke pipes with a wasp-waisted shank. I’ve always said that, FROM DAY 1!!!!!

    Right???

    It's like, you know, a girl having her ass on backwards, or a grizzly bear that behaves like a kitten. It just ain't the way shit's 'sposta BE.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  61. alaskanpiper

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    I was being sarcastic george. But in all seriousness, I do admire your clear passion for detail. Sometimes there is as much beauty in a seamless skyscraper as there is in a jackson pollock painting. And I can totally see how someone with experience crafting them would be hypersensitive to the difference. I think a lot of us just fall somewhere in between, especially if it smokes well, which seems to be the reason most people admire Castello. It is certainly the reason I do, my liking of their (however misaligned) shaping is just an added bonus.

    They do make a few ugly pipes though, but everybody does. How anyone could ever look at a bulldog or an Oom Paul without puking for the rest of their life is beyond me, regardless of maker (but especially brebbia). But to each their own, as they say.

    Put some mclelland 40th anniversary in it and I’ll smoke it out of a light bulb.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  62. georged

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    Alaskadude --- your sarcasm was received loud and clear. Good stuff.

    Also, to the board in general: Jesse and I are friends and enjoy this sort of sparring from time to time. Please don't take it as anything more than that.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  63. alaskanpiper

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    I figured as much. I just like watching the masters throw down. Inserting my own commentary makes me fee like im a part of it. In addition, being on the most west of coasts, its not even 11 here, and this is all thats happening on the whole forum, haha.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  64. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Referring to laziness, a mistake, or a lack of skill as a "different esthetic" is a charitable stretch, I think.

    Sorry, but I disagree. And to be honest, I couldn't give two hoots about what other carvers have to say about it. For me, it works just fine. The angularity within the contour is consistent throughout the profile. I don't mind dissonance and can enjoy it just as much as consonance. Perfection is often boring.

    With every show I've worked on, over two hundred and counting, I've either had to adapt to, or create, a different esthetic, a different style. If I couldn't do that, I'd have had a pretty limited career. And I didn't like every style I had to do. But I don't have to like it, I just have to understand it. It's like when someone looks at a Jackson Pollack drip painting and says anyone could do that. They don't understand what they're looking at, and they don't have a snowball's chance in hell of reproducing what he did.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  65. georged

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    Pretty weak sauce, there....

    The line error is EXACTLY what a beginner would "reproduce". Your Pollack example isn't an analogous situation at all.

    Your turn.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  66. georged

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    No overlaid lines necessary here (I hope).

    I believe the appropriate comment using today's Social Media parlance is: srsly?

    .

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  67. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    My sauce is strong, George, Clio, Emmy, and Oscar winning strong. Italian pipe shapes march to the beat of a different drummer. They're not restricted to any sort of orthodoxy. The French and later, the Brits, made shapes that followed fairly strict harmonious proportions, creating what is often referred to as the classical canon. Danish pipes took an organic spin on those shapes, softening that classical rigor while pursuing harmonious curves. Italians couldn't care less about maintaining an inevitable purity. Not that they can't produce it, they're just not tight assed about it. When I look at Italian pipe makers' sites, I see some pretty strange and sometimes awkward looking stuff that I find fascinating.

    You see it as a line error. I don't.

    Ball's in your court.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  68. georged

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    Not that they can't produce it, they're just not tight assed about it.

    Did you just imply that my ass was tight, Mr. Bard?

    Normally I'd dismiss such implicative impetuousness, but you being from California and all (BDB, no less)... well...

    Hm.

    I still think that shaping "creativity" which---by total and complete coincidence, understand---looks EXACTLY like laziness and/or a lack of ability, is most likely that.

    And such "creativity" translating into more units produced per hour is also not a coincidence.

    Since you have impeccable taste when it comes to the details of Barlings I'm now wondering if this Castello business isn't some sort of aspirational love affair, given that those Pigeon Eye pipes cost a billion dollars. Willful self delusion being such a powerful drug, and all.

    Or maybe it's just too long living under Governor Moonbeam has eroded your standards? Peace and Love are powerful drugs, too.

    Maybe Matt G. will weigh in. He knows your moods quite well and lives in New Joisey. No one messes around in Joisey.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  69. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Governor Moonbeam could balance a budget, which is more than can be said of those clots in Washington DC.

    Come to Vegas and I'll bring the pipe. You can dissect its flaws and I'll bring some great tobacco. I absolutely love the classical purity of well carved Brit wood and as you and I have discussed privately a pretty good eye for the fine details. But this isn't a British pipe, nor one that has aspirations of being shaped like one. Castellos have some much loved clunky angular shapes. That's what they does, and I have no problem with it.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  70. paulie66scandinavian

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    @Georged,I do wholeheartedly agree with Your statement here and real admire Your clear passion for detail, I'm the same way, stubbornly thinking that any item with a high price tag on it should be performed flawlessly be it footwear, garment or pipe
    the older I get the pickier I'm becoming in this regard, Bringing my apologies already,I don't know why but it seems that flaws done in the manufacturing process are omnipresent and increasing everywhere regardless of what price the item is,
    Ps, as for shaping, recall that very stem repair and on how it was performed)

    Posted 2 weeks ago #

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