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 Lucite or Vulcanite?

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Which Stem Material Do You Prefer?
Vulcanite
25%
 25% [ 20 ]
Ebonite
6%
 6% [ 5 ]
Lucite
68%
 68% [ 54 ]
Bakelite
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 79
 

AuthorMessage
cutshot



Age : 55
Location : Bluegrass State
Registration date : 2009-01-30

PostSubject: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:36 am

I am interested to know what others think about the stem as it is the part of the pipe that most comes in contact with the smoker.

Most higher grade pipe makers use vulcanite or rubber as many enjoy the softness of vulcanite for comfort.

I for one like lucite best mainly because it is much lower maintenance. I like to "clench" my pipe and therefore have a tendency to bite too hard on vulcanite. But a much bigger concern for me is when vulcanite oxidizes and becomes bitter to the taste and also turns green which is not pleasant to the eye. For this reason I have passed up many jewels simply because they did not have a lucite bit.

What is your experience?
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Buddy Springman



Age : 59
Location : Benton Township, SW Michigan
Registration date : 2008-06-01

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:22 am

I totally agree with your reasons for avoiding vulcanite. But then I'm not a clencher.

Buddy
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bronxbill



Age : 69
Location : Triangle area NC
Registration date : 2007-12-20

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:08 am

Put me in the lucite camp also. I have decided not to buy anymore pipes with vulcanite bits. I'm slowly moving those that I have either out of my rotation or having new lucite bits made
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Justpipes
The Duke


Age : 57
Location : Randolph County, NC If you don't know, you wouldn't understand.
Registration date : 2007-12-17

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:54 am

It really doesn't matter to me any more as I use softy pipe bits on most of my pipes with the exception of a few Kaywoodies that have vulcanite stems. I wipe mine down with Briar Pipe Wipe from time to time which seems to retard the oxidation on vulcanite stems.
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cutshot



Age : 55
Location : Bluegrass State
Registration date : 2009-01-30

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:41 am

Where do you get a lucite bit made to replace the vulcanite one?
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wojtekpastuch



Registration date : 2009-01-21

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:52 am

I see that most of you guys prefer lucite. I actually favor ebonite, I think it's more comfortable to hold in your mouth and doesn't have that "glass" fell to it... When I clanch a bit harder on ebonite I just have to be careful not to make teethmarks, when I clench on lucite I worry about breaking it Neutral You are right about the oxidation though, it's really annoying. I just accept the fact that the bits in my pipes are not perfectly black all the time Smile
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Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:54 am

cutshot wrote:
Where do you get a lucite bit made to replace the vulcanite one?

Maybe our own George could do the job.

http://www.precisionpiperepair.com/
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Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:05 am

I would recommend http://www.precisionpiperepair.com/stem.php

What a Face
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Carlos
Admin


Age : 59
Location : Chestnut, IL
Registration date : 2007-12-10

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:58 am

I prefer the softer bits. Cumberland is a favorite. The Castello bits are hard to my mouth. But I make do.

_________________


"Never turn your back on a Breen".
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Puff Daddy
Moderator


Age : 52
Location : South of heaven
Registration date : 2007-12-09

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:36 am

I love Castello bits and think the lucite they use is fantastic, but they do tend to make the buttons too big - sometimes they're downright uncomfortable. Lucite is like any other material you can use for a pipe stem, there are varying degrees of quality. I've had horrible and excellent stems made from both lucite and vulcanite. I have an Upshall that has the most comfortable vulcanite bit you'll ever find and it seems to be resisting oxidization quite well, and oxidizing is the one reason I lean towards lucite as a preference. If you like to collect old estates, though, you'd better learn to live with vulcanite or be prepared to pay to have those old beauties restemmed.

I'm trying to learn to live with and manage these vulcanite stems by using different polishing and cleaning methods but the key seems to be to try not keeping the thing in your mouth so much Laughing Saliva seems to be a serious accelerator for oxidization, so I just hold my pipes now and barely kiss the button when puffing.

I'm told that the key to a great vulcanite stem is a very low sulfur content in the rod stock material. Not sure if this is the simple truth or just part of it. I'm also told that this is the most expensive stuff, the really good German low sulfur vulcanite rod stock, and that even the best makers like Dunhill sort of split the middle due to cost and use good if not great vulcanite, but many lone artisan pipe carvers do in fact buy the very best and they create some very fine, slow to oxidize stems.

Most of this is just what I've garnered by word of mouth from various collectors and from various writings, I've not done enough collecting to have the pipes to tell you 'Yes, this is it'. I do intend to get a pipe from Rad Davis this year, one stemmed with his new Tuskanite material. He claims that it has the feel of vulcanite with the maintenance qualities of lucite. I've got to try this for myself Cool

_________________
These are horrible times and all sorts of horrible people are prospering, but we must never let this disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to annoy and hinder them at every turn.
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Dock
BoB's Team


Age : 105
Location : @ The Gym
Registration date : 2007-12-15

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:48 am

I'd take lucite if given the option! Laughing
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wojtekpastuch



Registration date : 2009-01-21

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:08 pm

I've always thought that vulcanite and ebonite were just two names for the same thing- vulcanized rubber... am I wrong?
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mark
Admin


Registration date : 2008-07-02

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:24 pm

I don't clench, so lucite is an advantage for me,,,I've also run across information on other promising materials although I haven't seen them used yet,,,one was ultem, a plastic composition somewhat soft but resistant to bite marks and non oxidizing,,,,I think the other was vertex, a mold blown plastic with similar properties,,,,
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Mikem
The Coordinator


Age : 61
Location : Glendale, Arizona
Registration date : 2007-12-14

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:01 pm

Vulcanite is a little easier on the teeth but I'm not a clencher so that really doesn't enter the picture for me. I have seen some of the very high grades with German vulcanite that didn't seem to brown and turn nasty like some of the cheaper stuff. I too prefer the Lucite just because it tends to stay cleaner longer.
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pipemaker



Location : West Allis, WI
Registration date : 2007-12-18

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:21 am

I've found the easiest way to keep a vulcanite or ebonite stem from oxidizing
is to wipe it with a piece of soft cotton cloth half way through the smoke and when finished smoking.

I simply use my tee shirt. It may not be clean but it is soft cotton and it's handy.

Mike B
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ftrplt



Age : 70
Location : Split between Raleigh, NC and OKC, OK
Registration date : 2007-12-15

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:37 pm

I'll use cotton or linen cloth to wipe my pipe stems. The linen is just rough enough to clean it and the cotton shines it up a bit! FTRPLT
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the macdonald



Age : 41
Location : Windsor CT
Registration date : 2008-08-31

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:52 pm

Damn your eyes Vulcanite! I'm not big clencher but do from time to time. I have Dunhill stem that is turning muddy tan, and seems to leap another shade every smoke. It's an utter embarrassment.

Another issue that seems to accelerate oxidation is if you have a strong drink while you smoke. I like a scotch or gin with an evening pipe and I’ve noticed the difference.
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Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:25 pm

Vulcanite is essentially rubber. Lucite is, I've read (and am satisfied with, being too lazy to look it up) based on oil.

Lucite is the only way to go. It stays nice forever and it doesn't taste like "stem." (Something I never noticed until I got a pipe with a lucite stem and started paying a little more attention to what I was doing).

After thirty-five years of off-&-on pursuit of the optimum enjoyment of good tabac in good pipes, the ne plus ultra here in Yakspace has come to be an equally old (or older) stummel with a replacement stem of lucite crafted for it by our own Latakia Lover with its airway opened to Rad Davis specs (proportionate to the chamber & airway diameters involved. One size does not fit all).

This is admittedfly, to use LL's phrase, a "spendy" way to accumulate a rotation. As a result, being a working stiff, I've only gotten five such (so far). But those five are, hands down, the five best smoking and -tasting pipes in the house. So much so that the potential appeal of a British, Irish or Danish classic is automatically weighed against what it will come to with a proper new stem, given that there are several here already waiting their turns for a trip up north.

Had this option been available before, ther would be at least one more rack of Dunhills, Four-dots and Charatans here, gotten back then and passed along as anywhere from under-performing to just underwealming.

Full Disclosure : No commercial connection involved. Take it for what it's worth. Your mileage may vary. Not everyone smokes pipes rather than names and images. Or wants to.
What a Face
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cutshot



Age : 55
Location : Bluegrass State
Registration date : 2009-01-30

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:05 pm

Since it seems at least from the discussion board that "most" pipe smoker's prefer lucite over vulcanite, I wonder why more pipe makers don't use this as a stem material. Some Italian makers do but with that exception most high grade pipes never come with lucite bits.
Is it more or less expensive to use lucite?
Is it more difficult to create a quality, comfortable bit with lucite?
Or is it just accepted that vulcanite is the material that hand made high grade bits are made from????
___________________________________________________________________________________

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”
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Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:15 pm

Vulcanite (a lot of which used to be of much better quality than most of what's used today) was pretty much all they once had to use (alternatives being amber or bakelite). So it became, through association, traditional. Which made it "right" (and lucite "wrong" to use on a good pipe).

Since the Danes began fixated on English pipes, they played follow-the-leader 'til that became traditional.

Caminetto's been disproving the whole notion for 60+ years, but old habits die hard.

My 2 cents.

What a Face
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LL



Location : KCMO
Registration date : 2007-12-29

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:13 am

Yak explained it pretty well, I think. Though I believe he meant "Castello" instead of "Caminetto" in the previous post.

EXCEPT for the mouth feel issue, acrylic is the technically superior material. If that extra bit of glassiness bothers you, though, hard rubber/Vulcanite/Ebonite (all the same stuff) is really the only other option. Bakelite is also a resin-based plastic, and quite hard in feel.

Like Yak, the older I get and the more I smoke, the less I care about convention. UNmodified-to-suit-my-taste pipes now make as much sense as buying a suit off the rack without allowing the house tailor to adjust the fit.
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Joseph76



Location : Ontario, Canada
Registration date : 2008-12-26

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:29 am

Lucite for me. I don't clench in my teeth so softness is not an issue. My favorite stems/buttons are on the recent vintage Cavicchi pipes. My least favorite is Peterson stems, I think they use the worst vulcanite. I have a '02 Dunhill that has an amazing vulcanite stem but still falls short of lucite.
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Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:41 am

Yep -- That was supposed to come out as "Castello" but didn't.

Getting old eats it.

Nice save !

What a Face
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ftrplt



Age : 70
Location : Split between Raleigh, NC and OKC, OK
Registration date : 2007-12-15

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:48 pm

Yak....Getting old beats the alternative lol! FTRPLT
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cutshot



Age : 55
Location : Bluegrass State
Registration date : 2009-01-30

PostSubject: Re: Lucite or Vulcanite?   Sat Feb 21, 2009 3:06 pm

I have to agree that without question, of the pipes I that I've had personal experience with Cavicchi makes the most comfortable and consistent lucite bits. I own several of his pipes and each one is very enjoyable to smoke and reasonably priced to boot.
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