Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Buying a Meerschaum Cutty Part 3

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin.

I assume by this stage you have carried out all the operations that I have laid out in parts 1 & 2 and you have done all of these without breaking the pipe or damaging anything. We now come to the subject of scraping the bowl as opposed to scraping the bottom of the barrel! For this job you will now need the services of a good iron bladed pen knife - see below

Take the pipe bowl in your left hand, firstly remembering to leave the pipe cleaner in the pipe slightly protruding into the bottom of the bowl. Do not do this while holding the stem as it will snap and remember the pipe cleaner is in there to stop all the sh*t going down the pipes airway. Put the blade into the bowl flat but at a 45% angle and scrape around the bowl 1/32 below the rim. Tap the bowl over some toilet paper and slant the bowl towards the light and with the top 1/4 inch of the blade scrape around the middle of the bowl and repeat this process until you reach the bottom. Some pipes often have very heavy build up sometimes greater than 1/16" and this will come off at the top of the bowl in large pieces with the rest having to be very gently chipped away using the point of the knife. If that is the case go very slowly and scrape the bowl after each successive carbon deposit removal until all the carbon and clinker has been extracted. It is very important this is done as this stuff heats and expands at a faster rate than meerschaum and has the potential to crack the bowl if not dealt with promptly.

Once this has been achieved wipe out the bowl with a damp cloth and then gently with another clean damp rag wipe off and polish the bowl. Remember never use spirits or anything else on the outside of a meerschaum as any finger prints or historical marks are there for good and cannot be removed. I now want to talk about bees wax and waxing your pipe. Many people recommend this and if you feel like dismantling your pipe and warming it up on a stove to slather it with pure bees wax by all means do so. It will turn the pipe a brown color but I have always felt like it is cheating and defeats the object of buying an older pipe. Also remember if you use too much wax it will leech out of the meerschaum and give your tobacco a very interesting taste that will take many smokes to get rid off and you may find you will get better results with a coloring bowl but then the choice is yours.

I am often asked what type of tobacco will color my pipe quickly. Well the short answer is there isn't one as its a factor of how much you smoke your pipe. Unlike briar pipes meerschaums do not need to be rested so you can smoke them for days on end and providing the bowl is scraped once a week and you put the correct pipe cleaner down the stem you can get by with smoking the same pipe every day. You all know I smoke Condor Plug or twist which is what was traditionally consumed in this type of pipe but then anything with a reasonable moisture content will suffice over time to turn the pipe brown.

I hope you have found this article both informative and helpful.

Foot Notes:

Rick Farrah can be found at www.briarville.com
Tim West can be found at J H Lowe
Both of these fellows do excellent work on old meerschaum pipes and I am sure there are others but these are ones I have used and recommend.

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