The Pipe Cleaner Test

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workman

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
1,778
225
I have a few bent pipes, and all except my two Petersons pass a pipecleaner, some of them with a little twisting required. My Petersons are forgiven, one is a system pipe, the other a spigot. My straight pipes all pass a cleaner and I would consider them thrash if they didn't.

I want to add a couple more bents to the herd. I've been looking at some Savinellis and a Vauen, but can I expect them to pass the test?

The only brand I have several of is Stanwell, and they always pass. Do other brands fare as well?

 

seanv

Preferred Member
Mar 22, 2018
1,356
994
Canada
I have a bent Rattray and a Jeantet that both fail the pipe cleaner test. The jeantet is a fantastic smoker and the Rattray is unsmoked. My big Ben passes.

 

donjgiles

Preferred Member
Apr 14, 2018
1,093
588
I think it is difficult to say, one brand is good, one brand is bad. I think the more severe the bend, the more likely a pipe cleaner will have issues. I enjoy bent pipes but I can't stand pipes that refuse to pass a cleaner.
Don

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
14
If the Petersons are forgiven, either you really love them or "the test" is not all that crucial :)

 

ashdigger

Preferred Member
Jul 30, 2016
5,296
126
I own a Ryan Alden 1/4 bent Strawberry wood that does not pass a cleaner, unless I summon the powers of absolute luck, then it does.
Doesn't matter, its a fantastic smoking pipe. Mind you, I learned how to smoke a pipe using Kaywoodies that had stingers, so it's no big deal.
This, like everything else in pipe smoking, is personal preference, no hard rules exist.

 

anthonyrosenthal74

Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
7,334
109
This, like everything else in pipe smoking, is personal preference, no hard rules exist.
Agreed. I just consider it an added plus when a pipe passes a cleaner. I have a few that do not. Doesn't bother me much. It just means I have to let it sit for a bit before I can remove the stem to properly clean the shank.

 

olkofri

Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
3,442
2,406
I never use cleaners mid-smoke, so it's a moot point to me. I prefer filtered pipes anyway.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,644
685
I only have bents. I can pass a cleaner through each. The fully bents need a bit of finagling, a wee bend in the cleaner tip but, they all pass.

 

workman

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
1,778
225
If the Petersons are forgiven, either you really love them or "the test" is not all that crucial :)
The system pipe is meant to collect moisture in the sump and to be broken down after each smoke, so the pipe cleaner test doesn't apply. It doesn't matter with this one though, as I am going to throw it away anyway. I hate the smell from the sump and the fact that if I have to lay it down for a while, the nasty sump juices will enter the stem. Yuck.

The other one is a silver spigot and can be taken apart midsmoke if necessary, which it seldom is.

My other pipes I only break down for a thorough cleaning, maybe two or three times a year, so in the meantime I want them to pass a cleaner.

 

unkleyoda

Preferred Member
Aug 22, 2016
1,120
48
Your mom\\\'s house
I hate the smell from the sump and the fact that if I have to lay it down for a while, the nasty sump juices will enter the stem.
First off, clean the sump really well with alcohol. Then, after that just swab with a folded cleaner after every smoke. Never let 'juice' sit in the sump after smoking. I got an estate system pipe from a guy. He said it was funky and he didn't like it. He was right, it stunk. All I did was clean the sump. It was nasty. I don't think he ever cleaned it. He probably just shook the 'juice' out after a smoke, and never swabbed it.
As for setting down a system pipe, I always take the stem off and shake the 'juice' out. Then I attach the stem and set it down.

 

k9shag

Senior Member
Oct 24, 2012
310
569
North Carolina
I agree with bassbug on the Petersons. Other thank an older straight grain Peterson I sold, I have never had one that passed a cleaner without a lot of work. I have worked in the business for a while now and have never had a Savinelli come through that did not pass a cleaner. I have several sent pipes as I enjoy a Hawbill. All of my Castello's, Sir Jacapo, and Savinelli's pass a cleaner on the first pass. I have one Peterson sitting on the shelf that will be sold or traded off because I do not care to fight with it anymore. I realize this is a preference so take it for what it is worth. I have 60+ pipes in my collection and they all pass a cleaner on the first path, which is my preference.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
19,107
2,766
Outer Space
I don't use pipecleaners mid smoke, except rarely. But, at least amongst my hoard, the only pipes that need a pipecleaner mid smoke are the ones that let them easily pass. The rest seem to be okiedokkie. In playing with pipes at The Briary, many high ends don't pass cleaners either.

I think that passing a cleaner is a test from antiquity, because guys couldn't test the pipes before buying, so the seller would show how easily it passes a cleaner to make a sell. But, that's just my own estimate. An extremely bent pipe that doesn't pass a cleaner wouldn't raise much of an eyebrow from me as a straight pipe that doesn't pass one. There would be more going wrong with a straight pipe that doesn't pass a cleaner, IMO.

 

cortezattic

Preferred Member
Nov 19, 2009
14,941
3,811
Chicago, IL
I've had good luck with Italian pipes, which are mostly what I buy. But I avoid the deeply bent shapes, so maybe that biases my observation.

 

crashthegrey

Preferred Member
Dec 18, 2015
2,885
123
36
Cobleskill, NY
www.greywoodie.com
If the pipe cleaner test is so important than why do guys like a reverse calabash pipe? This design defies all of the parameters of the test in that the turbulence matters in a slightly misaligned drilling. I just can't really see how the test works. I've had good and bad pipes on either side of the test.

 

workman

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
1,778
225
I'm happy to hear this about Savinelli. I know a pipe can smoke well without passong a cleaner, but i want to be able to run a pipe cleaner midsmoke and run 2-3 cleaners through the pipe after smoking without having to take it apart.

 

bnichols23

Preferred Member
Mar 13, 2018
3,012
781
SC Piedmont
For me "it's a good thing" for me if it'll pass a cleaner, but usually not a deal-breaker. I have a couple of Brebbias (straights) & one Sav that won't & they're still go-tos. The Brebbias are both Lidos with thin shanks/stems, so getting one in from the button is the problem. They can be worked from the tenon end, though, so it just involves waiting till the thing's cooled down completely.
Bents, usually forget it unless it's a 1/8th; that cleaner ain't goin' NO place. Definitely not a prob for me on those since bents are usually my preference. The Sav 614 is perfect for me since it's a stellar chin-hanger; with dentures I like one that won't make my teeth a short-end fulcrum. }:)
Bill

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
14
The system pipe is meant to collect moisture in the sump and to be broken down after each smoke, so the pipe cleaner test doesn't apply. It doesn't matter with this one though, as I am going to throw it away anyway. I hate the smell from the sump and the fact that if I have to lay it down for a while, the nasty sump juices will enter the stem. Yuck.
Yup, I'm very familiar with the system pipes..love 'em.
Don't throw it out, I'll gladly adopt it and love it as though it were my own child :)

 

workman

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
1,778
225
I would be happy to give it away. I've found out system pipes aren't for me. But I live in a land far, far away, and I suppuse it would cost some money to send it.

 

carolinachurchwarden

Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
1,682
17
Raleigh, NC
Like you, I have two Petes that won't pass a cleaner. My St.Paddy's Day pipe is a system pipe, and won't, but it's also a military bit style, so no biggie. I can pull the stem, insert a cleaner, pop the stem back in and I'm back in business. The same for my Christmas bent, 999. I don't think it was meant to have a well, but is still has enough of one to make passing a cleaner a chore, so I do the same thing, pull out the stem, run my cleaner and then pop it back in. I only really have to when a piece of tobacco become lodged in the draft hole at the bottom of the pipe. I rarely get gurgle, and in the event I do, I know which pipes do it and how to handle it now; I just do the sling method to curb it. Works pretty well until you've slung enough up the stem that you get some good ol' baccy juice in the mouth. Not the good tasting kind, like Lancaster, or Levi Garrett, so it can definitely put a bad taste in your mouth.