Pipes Never Smoked Down to the Bottom

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I thought this might be a topic of interest but then I see that General Lee has invaded....
I don’t think he can help himself. There are story tellers and then there are people who have a story to tell. Our friend is a lawyer. He has a story to tell to the jury. He is NOT a story teller. He is a lawyer and he wants the verdict to support Lee.
 
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jpberg

Lifer
Aug 30, 2011
2,282
4,585
Alfred Dunhill was among the first to advertise he oil cured his pipes. But Dunhill stopped oil curing years ago, because (it was said) it was only evident for the first dozen or so smokes.

When Lee began making what was then the highest priced production pipe on earth in 1946 he oil cured his pipes just like Dunhill did at the time.

As I understand the process, all raw briar has to first be boiled in water or soaked in a pond, then it must be dried, and ideally then aged. The great disadvantage of oil curing is the maker must boil the briar in his own recipe of sweet oil, then has to dry it again.

But the advantage is the first bowl will have a briar taste, it will still get hot, but it’s going to taste as good as the oil used tk cure the briar, but only for 15-30 smokes.

The strange thing is, to my knowledge Lee never advertised he oil cured his pipes.

Lee also didn’t advertise that an invisible (to view from outside) Lee screw in fitment with removable stinger was certainly the best way ever devised to manufacture factory pipes.

And while an early 7 or 5 pointed star Lee has gorgeously inlaid real gold stars, like a piece of jewelry, he didn’t advertise that either.

It was Reach for the Stars, Symbol of the World’s Finest Pipe.

Pick a shape, send $5, $10, $15, or $25, and Lee sent you a pipe.

A brand new Dunhill was $15.

The audacity of it, is so post war American.:)
So why did they oil cure pipes?
 
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jpberg

Lifer
Aug 30, 2011
2,282
4,585
You know, I spent many hours looking through Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages.
Many hours scouring every catalog he had.
I never once saw a Pipe by Lee.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,683
3,583
Humansville Missouri
So why did they oil cure pipes?
The same reason any manufacturer does anything, to make more money selling their stuff.

I don’t think there’s any argument that a sweet oil cured pipe will initially taste better while breaking it in. Nor any debate that after about two ounces of tobacco all the benefits are used up,

Dunhill didn’t have his workers carving pipes with a carving knife. A Dunhill was more of a hand crafted product than a Kaywoodie or Lee, but a Dunhill then and now is efficiently made in a factory, using as much efficient labor saving machines as are consistent with high quality,

Oil curing added to the cost of making the pipes, and Dunhill decided it didn’t add anything to the bottom line, so he stopped.

But over at Lee, they first cheapened the inlaid gold stars, then cheapened the marvelous recessed aluminum fitment into a common push stem, but to the last they seem to have still went to the expense of oil curing the briar.

What’s so curious, is why they didn’t advertise it.
 
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Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,683
3,583
Humansville Missouri
You know, I spent many hours looking through Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages.
Many hours scouring every catalog he had.
I never once saw a Pipe by Lee.
I accumulated Kaywoodies for years and never saw a Lee.

It’s something of a miracle so many are out there for sale today.

By 1946 the pipe market was fully mature, in fact it was likely slowly declining as people switched to cigarettes.

With rare exceptions, Lee made the exact same common shapes of Billiard, Apple, Bulldog, Author, Lovat, Canadian, etc that all of well established competitors did.

It seems to have been a mail order direct operation, like E A Carey.

What made the Lee special was, it was the most expensive production regularly cataloged pipe on earth at $25, for a Five Star.

You could buy the exact same pipe in the same shape made to the same build quality for $5.

They must have sold by word of mouth, among well to do women who gave them as gifts, or to men who wanted the best pipe in the world, the Packard of pipes.

If you compare any 7 or 5 pointed star Lee to any three hole post war Kaywoodie, the Lee is obviously by far, the better pipe.

A Lee might not have been the best pipe on earth, but no post war American factory pipe came close.
 

camaguey

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jul 25, 2021
117
189
west indies
I always consume it to the bottom with no problems of humidity or bad taste. I have to say that i use a dry tobacco and pack lighter than most smokers.
 
Jan 28, 2018
10,195
81,333
65
Noblesville, IN & Sarasota, FL
I think too much is made of smoking to the bottom of the bowl. If there are no hidden sand pits just under the inside bowl surface and the smoker doesn't smoke way too hot, the briar will easily withstand the stress with it without Cake. I'd argue smokers consumed with smoking their pipe to the bottom are at a much higher risk of damaging the pipe because they're applying flame while puffing when they're near the end of the bowl. I smoke reasonably dry tobacco and pack well so smoking to or near the bottom just happens regularly. But it's not something I strive for.

Help me with this logic. "A pipe not smoked to the bottom is at risk of burnout." Can someone explain how a pipe never smoked to the bottom would ever burn out at the heel? The amount of non useful analysis people give to something as simple as smoking a pipe amazes me.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,683
3,583
Humansville Missouri
I object on the grounds of speculative "Hyperbole". Does consul offer themselves as a certified "expert" on the topic of "Post war American factory pipes?"

:LOL:nnnn
I used to have a dear friend named Jack, who was a philosopher, genius, inventor, raconteur, pilot, bon vivant, and manufacturer of the original and finest arial wire markers on this planet.

Anybody that ever wanted to, could take one of Jack’s wire marker balls and use it to make a mould, and make the exact product Jack sold in 162 countries around the earth. Some tried, and all failed.

Jack spent next to nothing on advertising, just a small advertisement in Trade a Plane and a power company journal that read:

YOUR BALLS SAVED MY LIFE

Says St. Louis pilot so and so, in a letter to the company. (Excerpt from letter from grateful pilot who pulled up and narrowly avoided a wire strike followed)

TANA WIRE MARKERS
(Address and phone)

Jack’s products were, and still are, perfectly designed, made of the finest materials, and each one has rigorous quality inspections before it ships. But you could do that too, if you liked.

In a further, audacious effort to dissuade counterfeiters Jack purposely left all obvious identifying marks off of a genuine Tana ball. Jack’s reasoning was that the customer could only be assured of getting the real coin, if he ordered direct from Jack or from one of Jack’s authorized dealers (that Jack sold at 75% retail price). And if a counterfeit ball arrived at Jack’s factory, returned because it was defective, it was easy to check the order list, and Jack had other ways to identify his goods. When a counterfeit arrived, Jack would have me inform the buyer that he’d been swindled, and replace the ball with a genuine Tana ball free of charge.

This of course led to the power companies requiring whichever contractor won the bid for a new power line, they had to produce receipts they’d bought genuine Tana balls from Jack or an authorized dealer.

Jack only smoked Dutch Masters President cigars (that he bought by the box) unless you gave him a fine cigar, which his many friends did, constantly, in which case Jack allowed you to light it for him. But if there had been Pipes by Jack, it would have been about the same operation as Tana Wire Markers, I’d reckon.

Tana was Jack’s wife, 23 years younger, and more blonde and beautiful than words can describe here. Her and Jack are off somewhere now beyond the sunset, flying around in Jack’s V tail 1953 Bonanza he bought new. If you didn’t know them, you might doubt they ever existed. But Jack’s son still makes the balls, in the same factory, and sells as many or more than Jack did.

Go buy several early 7 or 5 pointed star era Pipes by Lee and several Kaywoodie Super and Flame Grain pipes that have three hole stingers, which means they are definitely post war. The differences are self evident. Anybody that knew about Pipes by Lee would have spent his five or ten dollars on the Lee, not the Kaywoodie.

Lee was another Jack, who made the world’s finest pipe.
 
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driftedshank1

Lurker
Jul 3, 2018
11
34
Many pipe smokers believe that repeated smoking to the bottom will improve the overall enjoyment of the tobacco, especially as one gets toward the bottom because the bottom has been well broken in. There is no science here, it's just opinion. I happen to share that view. I don't know of any pipe smoker who has experienced a burn out by smoking to the bottom, but I suppose it does happen. I would expect that an examination of the pipe that burned out would likely explain why.

Those of us who want to smoke to the bottom have to acknowledge that there are many variables that affect one's ability to do. These variables have been discussed ad nauseum and have to do with a variety of pipe engineering issues, tobacco wetness, and packing technique.

Nevertheless, pipe smoking should be enjoyable. If you are enjoying your smokes and for any reason stop before you get to the bottom there is nothing more to be concerned about.
 
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Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,683
3,583
Humansville Missouri
I think too much is made of smoking to the bottom of the bowl. If there are no hidden sand pits just under the inside bowl surface and the smoker doesn't smoke way too hot, the briar will easily withstand the stress with it without Cake. I'd argue smokers consumed with smoking their pipe to the bottom are at a much higher risk of damaging the pipe because they're applying flame while puffing when they're near the end of the bowl. I smoke reasonably dry tobacco and pack well so smoking to or near the bottom just happens regularly. But it's not something I strive for.

Help me with this logic. "A pipe not smoked to the bottom is at risk of burnout." Can someone explain how a pipe never smoked to the bottom would ever burn out at the heel? The amount of non useful analysis people give to something as simple as smoking a pipe amazes me.
Another shill for Pipes by Lee is I think in order here.

Let’s you and me try making the best factory pipe in the world, not some custom or special production, but one where’s there’s a catalog and the customer picks a shape and a price and sends us his order.

We’d have to have a factory and machinery and a skilled work force and sales staff, from day one.

Some talented and artistic pipe maker would have to fashion the prototypes, before we published the catalog.

In the case of Lee, only the best grade of vulcanite was used for stems, with Lee’s own fitment to join stem to stummel. But only a bowl can burn out, That’s the business end, and the beauty of the grain was the only difference between a $5 Two Star and $25 Five Star grade Lee.

If our customers burn out a bowl they’ll blame us, regardless that it’s his fault.

Every Lee pipe I’ve ever seen, from the lowest to highest grade, has extremely densely grained briar at the bottom of the bowl. Quality briar has dense grain structure, and the tighter the grain the better it withstands heat. Other pipes may have densely grained briar, but every Lee did.

Unlike cheaper pipes of the era, a Lee Star Grade shipped with no instructions on use, nothing to brag about how wonderful a Lee was. Just a Lee box, Star graded the same as the pipe, and inside the Star graded Lee inside of a silk bag that was also star graded to the pipe, and a little wire brush for cleaning. Such elegance and luxury for the lucky owner!

Lee had done everything in his power to protect the product from burn out.

He assumed his customer was experienced enough to know to smoke the first dozen or two bowls to the bottom, to finalize the curing of the briar and begin forming a cake, which is the only scant protection any pipe will ever have against burn out.

If you smoke a Lee in the wind enough, the briar is going to burn out regardless.

Baby your pipes, and they’ll baby you.
 
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Papamique

Part of the Furniture Now
Mar 11, 2020
518
2,515
The second reason is that, I am completely convinced, that the top part of the bowl tastes better after the bottom is completely broken in.
+1. I noticed this only after taking the time to break a pipe in properly. All the ones I have broken in properly all the way to the bottom I have noticed smoked cooler and sweeter. It’s the top 1/3 I don’t think much about. The bottom of the bowl affects the tobacco taste more, IME.
After reading posts like this and GL Pease’s Blog on it im convinced, no matter what my wife says, that I’m right.
I will continue to break in a pipe 1/3 at a time. I prefer it.
 
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Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
37,426
79,453
During break in the pipe will get scorching hot for 15 or more smokes of you smoke it to the bottom. It’s easy to burn out the bottom when you can taste briar, the pipe makes little snaps, crackles, and pops, and it sweats and it’s too hot to hold.
This is very telling. You are smoking way to fast and even in my pipes that have the thinnest walls, I have NEVER had a pipe get too hot to hold.