Question Regarding A Pipe That Burned Out.

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bluegrasspipe

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Jan 13, 2017
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My friend Jim told me a story recently about a bulldog pipe that he owned years ago, (he didn’t have a manufacturer name that I can recall). Although he really enjoyed the pipe, eventually he offered it to his friend as a gift after much adoration. He explained that his friend really loved smoking this pipe for a number of years until one day when he suddenly gave it back to him. It’s my understanding the pipe appeared to be very used and upon further inspection he realized there was a hole burned right through the bottom.

My reaction was that he didn’t take very good care of it and Jim responded quickly that wasn’t the case, “he just really loved it and smoked it to death”. We debated this for awhile, I said when a pipe is too hot to touch to your cheek it’s time to set it down and reach for another pipe. He responded that some of the burning tobacco makes contact with the wood and burn out is inevitable.

I am guessing that a heavy cake built up and eventually lit while smoking too hot and burned a hole right through the pipe.

Thoughts? Has anyone “codger” smoked a pipe until they burned right through it?

 

saltedplug

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Aug 20, 2013
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According to an important American pipe maker, there's no predicting a burnout. He said he smokes pipes with big flaws in the chamber that don't burnout; on the other hand those that seem fine do. Greg Pease wrote an article on that most-despised and inexplicable practice, bowl coating, and in it he said that he had polled pipe makers who reported overall a very low percentage off uncoated pipes burnout. The Italians don't as a rule bowl coat. Have you ever heard of Italian pipes burning out more than those that are coated? You won't because they don't.
Makers are devoted to the practice despite those who decry it.
The war continues. . .

 

hoosierpipeguy

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Jan 28, 2018
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The incidence rate of burn out is so low, I don't think there is any significant statistical data to judge coated vs uncoated. I seriously doubt coating the bowl has anything at all to do with it. It could be that carvers that coat the bowls happen to use briar that has more internal flaws in it. Who knows.

 

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chasingembers

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Nov 12, 2014
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I've smoked the heck out of even my oldest pieces for decades and have never had a burn out. Sounds like a flawed piece of briar.

 

sasquatch

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Jul 16, 2012
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Burnout is user error. I suppose there's a piece of bad briar somewhere... just a punky piece of junk that is really going to be prone to burning out somehow (how?) but basically, I'd guess that 90% or more of burnouts are user error.
I don't coat the bowl on 99% of the pipes I sell. I think I've seen two back in the shop. In one case I'm utterly convinced the guy was trying to light tobacco that had already burnt and he simply didn't realize it. Which is to say, the pipe smoked really well. The other was a guy who reamed through the bottom of a bent billiard, literally cutting through 1/4" of briar to do so.
On the other score, I have a tiny Castello Sea Rock billiard. The walls are 3/16" thick. And it's rusticated. Heavily. There's a couple spots I was pretty worried about when it was new. I no longer worry about it. It's taken hundreds of bowls.
Could I burn it out? Hell yeah. Out in a big windstorm with some or other hot burning virginia... yeah I could be a dope and screw the pipe up. But that's literally what it takes in almost every case.
I disagree strongly with whatever "important American pipe maker" suggests that burnouts aren't predictable. Briar's dead predictable - it's obvious when you have a punky spot, and it shouldn't be made into a pipe. Burnouts caused by user error are just that - user error, and I guess unpredictable in that if you really abuse a pipe to the point of failure, maybe it's not exactly clear just where the failure will occur, but if the idea that every pipe is just as apt to burnout under ordinary conditions as the next one.... baloney or that this is somehow mystically out of the pipe maker's control? Baloney.

 

sasquatch

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PS sounds to me like the pipe in the OP has suffered under "over care" - reamed to death, rather than burnt out?

 

snagstangl

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Jul 1, 2013
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I would think bulldogs are more prone to burn out because there is so little briar at the bottom of the bowl. I had to look "punky" up. Never heard it used that I could recall.

 

bluegrasspipe

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Jan 13, 2017
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Hmm, Sasquatch I was leaning to your opinion of a major user error. I have a feeling he didn’t ream it very often and it was trashed, but that is an assumption.

 

sasquatch

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Here's a bowl I rejected. Probably would not have burned out on those fissures, but I'm not going to sell a 300 dollar pipe with briar like that.


 

sasquatch

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Jul 16, 2012
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Take a look here... small spot in the chamber.....

Opens up into a big wound on the back.....

So that's gonna burn out, yeah. On the hot side of the bowl too (if the pipe is tipped down a bit). So that's garbage.

 

hoosierpipeguy

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Not sure how you can say that. It is entirely possible to have a sand pit, flaw or whatever you wish to call it just under the surface of the inside of the bowl. I don't disagree that a fair amount of burn outs are due to the user. Short of Xraying the briar, I'm not sure how you can be sure there aren't issues lying inside the walls of the bowl that cannot be seen on the inside or outside.

 

jpmcwjr

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May 12, 2015
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I am guessing that a heavy cake built up and eventually lit while smoking too hot and burned a hole right through the pipe.
You mean like a chimney fire? If so, no. Cake doesn't burn at temperatures of burning tobacco.
If you want to do a burn out just for fun, load it up as full as she'll go, light it while driving 70, and then hold it out the window. Wear thick gloves.

 

bluegrasspipe

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Jan 13, 2017
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JP, I think I’ve read you joking about the pipe out the window thing before. :lol: I was thinking like a chimney fire ha ha, .

Thanks Sasquatch, I hadn’t event considered a weak spot in the briar.

 

sasquatch

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Jul 16, 2012
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It is possible that a pipe could be made with a normal looking chamber, a normal looking outside, and have a horrible fail-prone area just between those. Possible. Terribly unlikely which is why I put the user error number at something like 90%.
Most pipe makers I know have rejects that they smoke - pipes they keep for some defect or other - often it's a bad hunk of wood. Usually the story is "Yeah it's paper thin there, I can literally see through it, but it hasn't burnt out."
And that's because they smoke that pipe carefully (or even not - it takes a lot to burn a pipe out!).
For my sins here, I'm sure the next pipe I buy will burn right out! But I'll stand by my initial statement - burnout is user error and nothing else, a whopping percentage of the time. Just saw a guy on facebook complaining about how bad Savinelli pipes are because he just burned out 2 Bing's Favorites in a row. In a row. Back to back. No wonder pipe companies sling a pile of un-incineratable muck in the bowl!
Wanna bet he could burn out a third? And the lesson he took out of this is that Bing's Favorites are terrible pipes. Sigh.

 

thehappypiper

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Feb 27, 2014
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In my opinion you can't "smoke a pipe to death" unless you don't care about the pipe. Yes, there are anomalies, unexpected burns-out, but if you care about your pipes you will...

1. Take an interest in them and return/reject pipes with obvious flaws

2. Monitor your pipes for localised hotspots

3. Manage your cake

4. Be careful when reaming
My Don Florian fan is a beautiful piece of briar which adores Latakia, but there was one tiny spot on one side which burnt like a %*#&@!. I managed it. I was aware of it. It is now a non-issue. It seems like half a mm of cake made all the difference. Now when I have to ream that pipe I will be very careful about that area.

 

crashthegrey

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Dec 18, 2015
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I usually assume user error. However, I have a pipe from a long defunct maker, relatively unknown company. Like the looks of it. Smoked it just fine. One day, one spot was super hot and the pipe itself was cool. Had barely started in on the bowl. It just started burning right through the briar at that spot. Oddest thing. I have put pipe mud on it but haven't smoked it since as I am pretty sure that it was something with the wood. Not sure pipe mud will fix that.

 

bluegrasspipe

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Jan 13, 2017
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Crash, it sounds to me like a “soft spot” in the bowl that just took off. That is unfortunate.

 

thehappypiper

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Feb 27, 2014
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Well Briar is a natural product, with all that entails. I am interested to know whether the worldwide supply of briar is healthy. Looking at some of the masterpieces on smoking pipes, one would imagine so. These Danish makers seem to have found a portal into another dimension.

 
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