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 Pipe Factory Tours

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Terry292

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Registration date : 2009-04-14

PostSubject: Pipe Factory Tours   Sat May 16, 2009 9:59 pm

International Pipes and Accessories, Sparta, NC, makers of Dr Grabow pipes, will be conducting tours of their facilities on July 7, 8, and 9, 2009, as part of Allegheny County's sesquicentennial celebration. Anyone interested is cordially invited. Alegheny County doesn't seem to be blessed with hotel rooms, so, if you plan to stay overnight, it might be a good time to book a room. I plan to be there for at least one day; I might even take the tour twice, just to make sure I see it all. We might even get the chance to meet Tom Douglas, Gracen Lucas, and other former employees of the (agruably) largest pipe maker in the world.

Details of the celebration are here: www.ac150.com

I'll post more details as I get them. Come on down (tell the wife it's a cultural thing)
Terry Very Happy
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Dubbya

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Age : 35
Location : Charlotte, NC
Registration date : 2009-05-02

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Sat May 16, 2009 10:14 pm

I'm only a few hours away from there! I might be "sick" one of those days and "have to stay at home from work, sorry boss."
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Terry292

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Registration date : 2009-04-14

PostSubject: Pipe Factory Tours   Sat May 16, 2009 11:35 pm

If we could get enough people, maybe we could make arrangements to pick a day and go as a group.
Terry Question
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PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Sun May 17, 2009 9:15 am

I love those mountain folk and in years past I use to go to Sparta, NC for muzzle loading rifle competition but I have never been to the Dr. Grabow factory. Sounds like a fun day trip I only live a short distance away.
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aaronbtxnc

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Age : 39
Location : Taylorsville, NC
Registration date : 2008-09-29

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Mon May 18, 2009 9:19 am

Excellent, a bit over an hour from my house. I followed the link and can't find any info specifically on this, is there any type of RSVP or the like?

For the wives there are several wineries in the area too.
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Terry292

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Registration date : 2009-04-14

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Mon May 18, 2009 12:02 pm

There's nothing specific about the factory tours on the ac150 web page, yet. I'm expecting a package from Tom Douglas, a former executive VP, of Sparta Industries, with more details. I'll post here as I get more info.
Terry
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Ol'Dawg

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Age : 71
Location : Northeast Georgia
Registration date : 2008-01-03

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Mon May 18, 2009 2:31 pm

Thanks for posting! I've always wanted to tour their factory. Dr. Grabows have been in my rotation for over 40 years and still my #1 choice for outdoor pipe smoking.

Jim
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Claire



Location : Sparta, NC
Registration date : 2009-05-19

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Tue May 19, 2009 8:36 am

Hi guys,

I'm on the Alleghany Sesquicentennial Committee and manage the site.

If you're looking for looking for lodging in the area:
http://sparta-nc.com/chamber/bed.html
http://sparta-nc.com/chamber/vacation.html
http://sparta-nc.com/chamber/motel.html

I don't think that you have to make reservations or anything for the Pipe Factory Tours, but Terry will probably have more details.

I hope you all are able to come to the tours. But even if you're not, come up and help us celebrate the Sesquicentennial!

Claire
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Terry292

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Registration date : 2009-04-14

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Tue May 19, 2009 3:43 pm

Thanks for posting, Claire. Next time you see Tom Douglas wandering around, say Hello from me. He knows me from the Dr Grabow Forum.
Terry Smile
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Terry292

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Registration date : 2009-04-14

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Tue May 26, 2009 11:51 am

A quick update on the Dr Grabow Factory Tours: tentative plans are for two tours per day at 10:00AM and 2:00PM, but if people show up at other times, they'll get the tour also. Rick Wooten, General Manager of IP&A will be the tour guide.
Hope to see you there.
Terry
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Terry292

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Registration date : 2009-04-14

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:42 pm

Topping for any who might have missed it and be interested in touring a pipe factory. It's about two weeks away.
Terry
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kilted1
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Age : 56
Location : North Georgia, USA
Registration date : 2009-01-11

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:53 pm

MAN do I wish I was flush and could attend, unfortunately I'd also has to miss school to attend, that would SO ROCK though! cheers
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Ol'Dawg

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Age : 71
Location : Northeast Georgia
Registration date : 2008-01-03

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Tue Jul 07, 2009 9:33 pm

Bumping again to see if anyone is going to make the tour on Thursday morning? I'll be wearing my UGA Dawg cap.

Jim
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Terry292

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Registration date : 2009-04-14

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:23 pm

Dawg, you won't regret it. I just got home from there. It's an amazing process watching the different steps in making a pipe.
Terry
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Terry292

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Registration date : 2009-04-14

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:55 pm

Photos of the Dr Grabow factory and Sparta, NC, courtesy of my friend, Mac. Taken Wednesday, 7/8/2009. It was definitely worth the time.

http://drgrabowphotos.shutterfly.com/

Comments/captions to follow, as time permits.
Terry
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PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Fri Jul 10, 2009 1:39 pm

Nice to see those photo's of the Grabow factory & tour. That's something I'll plan to do for a future adventure.
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Terry292

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Registration date : 2009-04-14

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Fri Jul 10, 2009 4:35 pm

E.J., I don't know where you are in VA, but it's a straight (well, as straight as you can get driving on a Virginia mountain road) shot down 21 South from Wytheville, or you can take the Troutdale Highway in Marion, if you like the scenic route. Or, it's just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Terry
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Ol'Dawg

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Age : 71
Location : Northeast Georgia
Registration date : 2008-01-03

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Sat Jul 11, 2009 1:52 am

Terry,

You're correct...it was definitely worth the 250 miles I drove to get there. Thanks for posting the photos. I had planned to take some but got so engrossed in the tour I forgot to take any. Frank D. was our tour guide too. It was obvious that everyone that worked there was happy to have people visit and see their handicrafts at work. Everyone was super nice and took time to explain their work. I guess I was in the slow group too because our tour took over an hour and a half.

A few comments...it was like stepping back about 50 years in time and as you can see in the photos a lot of the machines were probably the original ones. I was surprised at how many times the blocks of briar were touched and worked before the finished product was complete. There were lots of very skilled crafts people working there with many years of experience. Frank the tour guide had worked there for 41 years. He said at their peak of production they made 11,000 pipes per day but now only about 3,000 per week.

Some of the things that impressed me and are tied to your photos for visuals.
The block grader in 2791 would put Kobe Bryant to shame for his accuracy in tossing the various grades of blocks (2790) in the correct barrels (2789).

The number of styles of pipes produced in the past. 2810, 2813, 2814.

The pipe carver or "groover" in 2832. I previously thought the carved finish was to cover up imperfections but found out this was just a style of pipe. Notice the bobble head buck deer and "rub" tree in the top left photo. There was a fair amount of vibration during this operation.

They no longer pre-smoke the pipes but now coat the bowls as shown in 2881. Photo 2925 shows the "smoking machine they used prior to the new ownership. Notice the tin of Sir Walter Raleigh on top of the machine.

The lady shown in 2870 covers minor surface imperfections of almost finished pipes by using a fine drill bit to make leaves and other designs to cover them. She's quite an artist.

Photo 2894 shows the filter making machine. The various papers used in the process come to the factory in big rolls...about 3' high and 3' across. They have a machine that cuts the paper into 1" strips and re-spools the paper onto rolls as used in this photo. The machine twists, binds and prints the name on each filter strip and arrives in photo 2896 where each filter is cut to length for boxing.

All for now.

Jim
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Terry292

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Registration date : 2009-04-14

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:52 pm

Jim, I'm glad you got to take the tour and felt it was worth your time. I'll be posting some more photos I took of the tour later this weekend, but they're not as comprehensive as the ones Mac took. I was having problems with my camera and a lot were unusable when I downloaded to the computer.

I, too, was impressed with the dedication of the Grabow employees. The least experienced of the ones I talked with had over 20 years making Dr Grabow pipes. They take a lot of pride in their work, and entire families have worked there in the past. Frank's nephew works there, now.

If you look at the photo of the four of us in front of the IP&A sign, I'm the one with the hat and suspenders, and Mac is on the far left. The other two are Tom, second from the left, former COO of Sparta Industries, and Steve, far right, a fellow member of the Dr Grabow Collectors' Forum http://drgrabows.myfreeforum.org/

You might want to check it out. Lots of good discussion of Dr Grabow and the many associated companies. BTW, we're already planning another get-together in Sparta sometime next year. We'd love it if you could join us.

Terry
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Ol'Dawg

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Age : 71
Location : Northeast Georgia
Registration date : 2008-01-03

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Sun Jul 12, 2009 1:11 am

Terry,

Thanks for the two invites! I've already skimmed the collectors site and the meeting next year would certainly be a welcome relief from the hot weather normally here in July. I tried to turn my AC off three times coming off the mountain toward I-77 but it wan't on. Laughing By the way, I did purchase a pipe just before leaving. It's the bent billliard just below Steve's left elbow in photo #2772. No fills I could find and it's about 2/3 birdseye. There were some above average pipes for sale there and probably should have bought a few more.

Take care and thanks again.

Jim
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Terry292

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Registration date : 2009-04-14

PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Sun Jul 12, 2009 6:21 pm

Jim, one other site you might want to check: http://www.drgrabow.net/ It's pretty much a place holder right now, but while we were in Sparta, we talked with Rick Wooten, General Manager of IP&A. He has some pretty exciting plans for it in the fairly near future. Be sure to register for the information and offers they're planning to implement.
Terry
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PostSubject: Re: Pipe Factory Tours   Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:28 am

Terry292 wrote:
E.J., I don't know where you are in VA, but it's a straight (well, as straight as you can get driving on a Virginia mountain road) shot down 21 South from Wytheville, or you can take the Troutdale Highway in Marion, if you like the scenic route. Or, it's just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Terry
I'm about 20 min. away from the BRP where it passes through Floyd County, Va. I'm thinking that may be a cool family adventure for next spring. We make a day trip to Tweetsie RR every May, I might make it a weekend trip with a stop at the Grabows factory.
Seeing these photo's and reading you guys postings makes me want to go out and buy a Dr Grabows now.
Thanks Terry & Jim!
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