Mysteriously Cracking Meerschaums

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furthur73

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Jan 12, 2014
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I have a question for those more experienced with meerschaum pipes than myself. Have any of you experienced problems with cracking? I have now had 2 meerschaum pipes meet their end with severe cracks while smoking. The first was an admittedly low quality churchwarden that cracked at the shank while smoking. The second, a bent billiard with relief carvings around the bowl, cracked around the circumference of the bowl and vertically down the side of the bowl. I'm at a loss as to what has caused this and as a result I'm shying away from smoking the remaining one I have and seeking some suggestions from veteran men of the meer.

 

metarzan

Preferred Member
Nov 14, 2012
570
1
Looks pretty cold in your avatar. Do you often go from frozen pipe to blazing bowl? Just a guess really as I have never heard of a bowl cracking in the way you described while smoking.

 

condorlover1

Preferred Member
Dec 22, 2013
5,271
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New York
Wow. Apart from the one I had that shattered earlier in the year which was the subject of quite a few posts here I have never had that happen to me touch wood. Where did the pipes come from? Unless the pipes were made with a flaw in them or had been previously dropped resulting in a hairline fault I am at a loss to explain this happening. Are you smoking hot by any chance?

 

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furthur73

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Jan 12, 2014
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The weather here is nice and balmy now. The churchwarden gave way in cool not cold weather, so after some reading up on things I decided my meers were for warm weather use only. I really don't smoke hot, in fact the bowl never gets warm enough to cause any discomfort when held to the cheek. Which I read on a pipe website somewhere was a good way to gauge whether or not one was smoking too hot or not. As for the origin of the pipes, the warden was a cheap skull shaped meer from a local B&M that caters to the cigarette, hookah, cigar crowd with pipes as an afterthought. The bent billiard was an ebay win of $11 unsmoked without a stem, origin unknown. All in all I'm only out about $60 total between the two but it really gives me pause when thinking about spending "real money" on a nice meer.

 

sailorjeremy

Senior Member
Feb 25, 2014
419
0
Virginia
Spending a bit more on a meer would yield a denser pipe that would be much less susceptible to cracking. It could just be that your meers we're very porous, and thus very sensitive to heat.

 

cortezattic

Preferred Member
Nov 19, 2009
15,147
7,608
Chicago, IL
I'm totally blowin' smoke here, though "conjecture" would be the polite term. :puffy:

I think meerschaum and briar are equally susceptible to cracking from excessive cake build-up. Could this be the cause?

The carbon cake expands faster than the bowl itself -- especially if you're smoking in cooler weather -- and only a few 10,000ths of an inch can create enough pressure. People tend to overheat churchwardens because the cooling effect of the long stem tends to mask the heat issue. In briars this usually leads to burn-out, but cracking is a possibility.

As for meers, one shouldn't allow them to build up any carbon cake since: (1) they don't need the protection, and (2) they will color better.

 

condorlover1

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Dec 22, 2013
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@junkyarddawg - thats spot on the money or just buy very old meerschaum pipes like I do and avoid the risk of getting a tourist pipe! Actually there are some pretty decent used pipes on Oi Vay if you have the patience to bid in $2 increments. A fellow on here picked up a super billiard the other month for like $20 or so. Just be careful about the stem/shank fittings as they are the bane of buying pipes on that site

 

jerry

Senior Member
Dec 2, 2009
310
488
Western Massachusetts
I agree that your pipes were probably "pressed" meerschaum, not block meerschaum. I've had many meers over the years, more than 100 - none ever cracked.

 

furthur73

New member
Jan 12, 2014
23
0
As near as I can tell I have been doing everything "right". No cake build-up, not smoking hot, no hard knocks, no outdoor use in the winter, my only conclusion must be these were low-end "tourist" pipes. My one remaining meer is an older early 20th century estate. This last pipe has been smoked a fair amount by the original owner, though not really to the point of coloring. I'll try my luck with it and see what happens this summer. If it survives maybe I'll try my luck with a quality meer. Thanks for all the input, you guys rock!

 

meerqueen

Member
Sep 9, 2012
221
0
Although there is no pressed meerschaum in the market for a long time but there are some really low grading block meerschaums which i can call between 1-3 (6 is the best)

Those low quality block meerschaum may crack
Bahadir

 

jerry

Senior Member
Dec 2, 2009
310
488
Western Massachusetts
Thanks, Bahadir. Always good to get information from you. I didn't know that pressed meerschaum isn't being sold these days ... though certainly on Ebay you'll probably find them.

 

jlr1

New member
May 29, 2014
41
0
I too had a meerschaum crack on me the other night. Never been smoked before. Cost was about $75. After an hour or so, it just cracked halfway up the shank. Never happened before on any Meer I bought.

 

meerschaumsteve

New member
Jul 31, 2012
48
0
I remember a few years ago seeing a message by Yanik saying that the stones have to be chosen very carefully, and have a very high chance of cracking if the raw meer blocks were not good enough quality.

 

newbroom

Preferred Member
Jul 11, 2014
5,763
2,583
I have a meer that needs resurrection. I tried superglue, but that failed. I've got a piece broken off from the end of the shank and a crack along the shank that heels when cool and shows up after about a half bowl. Kinda funny that I even bother, the piece off the shank is a full 360, but I can still get the stem to seal.

 

toby67

Senior Member
Sep 30, 2014
413
1
Australia
Buy a quality new Meerchaum Pipe from a reputable dealer (I got mine from MeerQueen) my block grade was 6/6 and it came with a lifetime warranty on the bowl against such things. This of course does not cover pipes that have been dropped, lol.
Buying a secondhand you don't know how it was treated in the past and may have had an internal crack that you couldn't see wen you got it and it was destined to one day crack.
Sorry to hear you lost two good pipes.

 

newbroom

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Jul 11, 2014
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Well, I got em cheap. They're supposedly Turkish from Hayim Pinhas. Only one is broken.

 

condorlover1

Preferred Member
Dec 22, 2013
5,271
8,846
New York
This is a proverbial topic that gets resurrected every few months over the course of the year. In regards to cracks etc you can always have stems banded which gives a rather nice silver band if done properly. Other cracks can be so much more problematic and will eventually lead to total pipe failure. I have seen pipes with extensive silver sheet repair work over the years and I would imagine it would be like smoking an alien!

 

saint007

Preferred Member
Dec 22, 2013
630
0
I'm not sure if this pipe is cracked or not but I have never had a ring develop on any of my meers. I take great care of my meers and you won't even find a scratch on any of them. This pipe is one of my more expensive ones from a well respected carver.


 

oldmansmoking

Preferred Member
May 13, 2017
587
60
UK


I had this Meerschaum pipe for my 40th wedding anniversary cost £175.00 during a smoke (didn’t use it often) I noticed these two cracks develop.

When it was being smoked you could put your finger nail inside one of the cracks.

I had it under 12 months so returned it for a refund.

Have a Falcon Meerschaum bowl over two years old and no problems.

 
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