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 ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?

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The Libriarian



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PostSubject: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:21 pm

I just want to know why manufacturers and high end independent pipe makers use vulcanite/ebonite on pipes? If you spend $1000.00 on a pipe but has a ebe/vulc stem it will turn yellow and oxidize and your beautiful briar which cost an arm and a leg will be tarnished. i just cant see why acrylic isnt used on these pipes. i know high end pipes that do use ebonite have a slower oxidization time due to lower sulfur content, anyone know how long it takes for a stem like that to oxidize? I bought an ardor recently and i was told it was acrylic but nope the damn things vulcanite:( Anyone else only buy pipes with acrylic stems or do you have no preference? Thanks if you throw in some info or care to state your opinion.
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Brewdude
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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:52 pm

OK I'll play.

Frankly I like ebonite/vulcanite bits. Due to the way they clench and feel.

Yes, they have some downsides. And oxidation is one of them. As is vulnerability to tooth marks.

That notwithstanding, I do tend to prefer them to acrylic. Yes, there is maintenance to keep them looking spiffy. Goes with the trade-off between comfort and upkeep.

But back to your question - I don't necessarily see a correlation between high end pipes and vulcanite/ebonite bits. If we're discussing Petes I'm given to understand they can be ordered with vulcanite or acrylic bits. At least that's what some have put forward.

Can you provide some examples where high end pipes are only available in vulcanite/ebonite? Now I'm genuinely curious!


Cheers,

RR

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The Libriarian



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PostSubject: alpascia high end pipes   Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:01 pm

Hey the website i was referring to which i should have mention was alpascia. Tons of great pipes which I think most would say are fairly expensive or high end. If you click on anyone of them with the exception of a few obviously petes and stans and some ardors they all have ebonite/vulcanite stems. the connection is there.
http://www.alpascia.com/groupIndex.asp
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Fr_Tom

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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:36 pm

I prefer the feel of vulcanite in my teeth. I have never really warmed up to the acrylic. It is too hard...
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the rev

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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:40 pm

I would say the biggest issue is mouth comfort. It just feels better. I think many pipe smokers are willing to deal with the oxidation in exchange for a nice mouth feel. I hate the way Acrylic is so hard and brittle and my pipe with an acrylic stem is a pain to clench. That being said, if anyone wants an acryclic stem from me... I will make it, though I am not "high end"





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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:23 pm

English makers have used rubber stems since forever. It's "tradition" there, and they're into that as an important element in what all's involved.

The Scandanavians started out doing English knock-offs and branched out from there. Almost all of theirs will be rubber-stemmed too.

The reason why so many pipes on your list have vulcanite/ebonite stems is because so many of them are English or Danish.

The above factory level production Italians went with acrylic early on. Check the Italian makers on the list and you'll find acrylic stems galore.

Pipemakers like rubber because it's much easier to work. Smokers who like it generally fixate on how much better it feels in their mouths, ignoring that after a while it will start to "taste like stem."

If the taste of what you're smoking is a major factor to you, acrylic is the way to go -- the difference can be striking. It's like cleaning a dirty taste window that you'd gotten used to being covered with a film of dirt.

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Dutch

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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:37 am

I think that most above average pipe carvers will tell you that they can make an ebonite/vuncanite thinner with better longevity than they can with acrylic. If a pipe smoker prefers to use the rubber softee bits, it doesn't matter as much. However, I have one or two pipes with acrylic stems that are too thick in front of the button, and the rubber softee bit just amplifies the problem.

The bottom line is, a skilled pipe carver puts as much or more time into his bit, as he does his stummel. This is exactly the answer to the question, "Why do artisan pipes cost so much more than production pipes?"

Fact is, the stem is just as important as the briar. In most cases, a pipe with a cheaper price point, is where some buyers looking to save some money, pay a very high price.
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Dave_In_Philly

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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:16 am

It is not a generally accepted fact that acrylic is better than vulcanite. Some would say, myself included, that acrylic is inferior to vulcanite (though I regularly smoke both). Given that its completely subjective and purely a matter of preference, I would say that the answer to your question is that high end pipes are made with type of stem that people who buy high end pipes tend to want.

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bosun1

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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:50 am

I don't have any high end pipes.
I generally do not clench but still prefer vulcanite/ebonite for the 'feel' and jaw comfort.
I'm perfectly equipped to clean my stems as needed.
If I was of the type to posses high end pipes, I'm sure it wouldn't bother me to box them up once a year (or have the butler do it) and have some one 'in the trade' clean them for me!
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Kyle Weiss

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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:03 pm

I like both.

I hate the care of vulcanite, I green-up a stem pretty quickly smoking outside frequently and having a rough mouth chemistry, it seems.

Acrylic isn't as comfortable as vulcanite, but there's many different types of acrylic, some are more comfortable than others.

:shrug:

In the end, I believe I prefer acrylic, but vulcanite will not stop me from buying/smoking a good-smoking pipe.
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prosmoking



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PostSubject: Lucite prefered   Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:09 pm

Dutch wrote:
I think that most above average pipe carvers will tell you that they can make an ebonite/vulcanite thinner with better longevity than they can with acrylic. If a pipe smoker prefers to use the rubber softee bits, it doesn't matter as much. However, I have one or two pipes with acrylic stems that are too thick in front of the button, and the rubber softee bit just amplifies the problem.

It makes no sense that ebonite/vulcanite can be cut thinner than Lucite. I cut my Lucite bits down to 0.160 inch at the lip, which is the same as others using ebonite. The rubber is soft and will cave in if cut thin. Lucite is much more durable. There is more to the bit comfort than just thickness. It is also in the radius across the lip.

I don't like high maintenance or the taste of an oxidizing rubber bit. No

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sisyphus

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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:34 am

I dislike acrylic. Terrible mouth feel. Oxidation isn't an issue with maintenance and tooth marks can be removed. Chatter on an acrylic stem has to be sanded. For comfort and longevity it's vulcanite for me.
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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:35 am

If you don't gnaw on them, tooth marks are not a problem. And if pipe time is its own activity (not an add-on to something else), "hand smoking" works and works well indeed. At least it has here for many years.

Quote :
Blessed is the man who cannot taste vulcanite, for he shall be content with comfortable stems that taste like old tires.


Reminds me of a joke. Jewish kid asks his dad, "Why does the world have so many Goyim in it ?"

Dad tells him, "Somebody's got to pay full retail !"

(Ducking garbage Laughing )

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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:40 am

PS : Going by lucite stems made by Todd Bannard (Sasquatch), Jesse Jones (Ocelot88) and George Dibos (six of his now), Castello and an Ascorti-Radice Caminetto, the notion that lucite stems are necessarily thick and uncomfortable is completely unfounded.

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riff raff

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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:36 am

I'm a vulcanite guy (British pipes) and don't mind the upkeep (most are estates that I cleaned/polished anyway). I do own two Castellos and don't dislike their acrylic stems. Some folks can taste the rubber in a vulcanite stem, but I cannot. I had a newish Rad Davis and I believe he uses German ebonite? That stem was Cumberland and it didn't taste/feel any different than my older British stems. Sasquatch just posted a similar thread over on the SmokersForums.uk.
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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:59 am

http://pipesmokersforum.com/community/threads/pipes-with-vulcanite-or-lucite-stems.5000/

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IndySmoker



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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:11 am

I have stems from all over the Pipe Stem Rainbow, what the stem is made out of has never stopped me from buying a pipe. My only preference when it comes to stems is I like them on the thin side behind the button, other then that I never think about it. It's only a few seconds more to rub obsidian oil on the vulcanite/ebonite stem, my life isn't so busy that I worry over it.
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KevinM



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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:03 pm

I guess the answer to that Q is that I don't really know Wink , but I thought the persistence of vulcanite was that it is easier for the pipemaker to consistently produce mouthpieces that are thin (north and south) but wide (east and west). (I've wondered if it is easier for a carver to correct an error in vulcanite than acrylis, which would explain a lot.) The proneness to oxidation I thought was due to how much of the sulfur content had been boiled out of the rubber. My comfiest mouthpiece is on a James Upshall Dublin. It's thin but wide at the bit and the opening is slightly concave. Fortunately, I don't get a vulcanite (or acrylic) taste and don't insist that all mouthpieces have to be Mercedes Benz black. My .02 is that being easily pleased is the secret to happiness. Being hard to please pretty much assures chronic discontent. Other's firmly held opinions may vary.
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riff raff

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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:04 pm

KevinM wrote:
I guess the answer to that Q is that I don't really know Wink , but I thought the persistence of vulcanite was that it is easier for the pipemaker to consistently produce mouthpieces that are thin (north and south) but wide (east and west). (I've wondered if it is easier for a carver to correct an error in vulcanite than acrylis, which would explain a lot.) The proneness to oxidation I thought was due to how much of the sulfur content had been boiled out of the rubber. My comfiest mouthpiece is on a James Upshall Dublin. It's thin but wide at the bit and the opening is slightly concave. Fortunately, I don't get a vulcanite (or acrylic) taste and don't insist that all mouthpieces have to be Mercedes Benz black. My .02 is that being easily pleased is the secret to happiness. Being hard to please pretty much assures chronic discontent. Other's firmly held opinions may vary.

I finish my vulcanite stems with a buff using automotive plastic polish. In addition to a slighly glossier shine, it also seems to retard the oxidation. I have five James Upshall pipes and none seem to oxidize at all, at least in the past two years from when they were restored.
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KevinM



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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:56 pm

I should have added that my Upshalls have the curious trait of oxidizing at the very end of the bit -- i.e. around the airhole -- but not so much on the top or bottom. It's also not a chore to remove oxi from an Upshall, I've found, though I've seen on other boards complaints about them. My Pete's OTOH (I have about a dozen) can produce stubborn oxidation under certain conditions. (Sunrise, for example.) My current approach is brief but frequent polishes with an old t-shirt that hasn't seen the laundry in maybe a year and is saturated with cleaner and wax. I literally hide it from my wife who, I'm sure, would throw it out, given the slightest opportunity. The next time I get ambitious, I'll try your auto acrylic polish idea. I use the stuff on my eight-year old car (It's German, forget the brand name) twice a year and the finish is still fine even though it's seldom garaged.

Also, I've gotten into the habit of putting a little generic lip balm with sunscreen on the ends of vulcanite stems which seems to be an effective preventive measure.
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cigrmaster

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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:10 pm

I believe the reason that higher end pipes come with vulcanite is because that is what the customer wants. I know for myself I will not buy a pipe that does not come with a high quality German vulcanite stem. In terms of maintenance the German vulcanite needs little to none. I use a little Obidisian stem oil when I clean my pipes and have never needed to have them sent out for buffing or refurbishing even after a dozen years. Now my older English vulcanite stems are another issue entirely, those have a high sulfur content and oxidize very easily which is why I will never buy another pipe with that type of stem.

Acrylic stems to me are very uncomfortable and very difficult to clench, and since the stems I buy now are not a maintenance problem, I can have the best of both worlds.
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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:47 am

My new philosophy, personally, is that I don't care what it's made out of so long as it's black. I'm starting to use softee bits on many of my pipes and they look odd to me on any stem that isn't black.
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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Sun Jul 14, 2013 7:47 pm

I like both and have both. The acrylic stems I have are cool because the pipe maker pretty much do anything with the style and or look (graphics) of them. To each his own but the vulcanite are much easier on my teeth.
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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Sun Jul 14, 2013 9:47 pm

I just reread the OP, I've never heard of or seen an Ardor pipe with a vulcanite stem. If you have one, it must be a replacement. Ardor is known for their colorful acrylic stems. I don't think any Italian maker (at least the big ones) use vulcanite. I guess that is also tradition.
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sisyphus

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PostSubject: Re: ebonite/vulcanite on high end pipes, why?   Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:25 pm

riff raff wrote:
 I don't think any Italian maker (at least the big ones) use vulcanite.  I guess that is also tradition.

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