At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Today I picked up five pipes that I had sent to be repaired. Nothing drastic, just new mouthpieces. The old ones were a bit worn.
Well now. I have seldom seen such crappy handiwork.
I am appalled.

While I lived in the Netherlands I once needed new stems. It took nearly six months because the Netherlands didn't have pipe repair people, and Dutch tobacconists have no clue how to do it themselves. The local shop sent the two pipes out to a factory, and eventually the factory sent them back. They had used metal tenons, cheap plastic bits, and shaved down the shanks to fit the mouthpiece, rather than utilizing actual carbon rubber blanks of correct dimensions.
They very efficiently ruined both pipes, and charged me an outrageous sum for that service.

My father was flabbergasted. When he still smoked a pipe, many tobacconists could turn out a replacement stem while you waited.

When I worked at Drucquer & Sons in Berkeley I would restore and clean collectable pipes in the back of the shop, but we'd send all stem jobs to Russ in Hayward.
Russ did far better stem work than I was capable of doing.
Yes, it took a week to ten days, but Russ made excellent mouthpieces.

Russ passed away several years ago.

He had worked into his eighties or maybe even early nineties, and was still in the repair business till a few weeks before the end. I had replacement stems made for some pipes back in 03 or 04, and though it took two to three weeks longer, the results were precisely what I expected.

Not so this time.

Five items:

Comoy's "Old Bruyere" - bulldog.
Dulwich "Straight Grain" - bulldog.
Hardcastle "DeLuxe" - bulldog.
Peterson's "Supreme" - billiard.
Peterson's "Special" - bulldog.

Two new mouthpieces for each pipe - one saddle, one tapered.
No Peterson-type stems, please.

I included the printed descriptions above and the instructions with the pipes.
When I picked up the pipes the same sheet of paper was in the bag.
I am certain he saw it.

So what did the "repair shop" send back?

Two stems for each pipe.
Two SADDLE stems for each of the bulldogs.
Two TAPER stems for the billiard.

The stems do not fit flush with the lines of the pipes. Each one will have to be sanded down and re-polished. The tenons are rough and will need some work.
These are some ugly stems at present - it will take a bit of careful attention to make them presentable.

I did not ask that the pipes be polished. They were fine.
The son-of-a-bitch went ahead and gave them a heavy once-over with his buffing wheel.
Which means that the two bulldogs that had BEVELLED inner rims now have ROUNDED rims.
Again, this will require use of sandpaper.

I was planning to send my Dunhills in for new mouthpieces.
Now that will NOT happen.
Instead, I shall purchase a bunch of blanks from somewhere on the internet.
I can do better work than that rank incompetent.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


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