The Case of the Leaky Pipe

            “You are bidding on a Jobey pipe. This pipe is in good, smokable condition. It used to belong to my grandfather, and now you can be yours.”

            I read the description text underneath the picture of the old Jobey pipe from the eBay app on my phone. I had spent the past hour scrolling through the site, taking a gander at the estate pipes up for auction. For some reason, I was in the market for adding a paneled billiard in my pipe rack. In the past, I hadn’t given paneled pipes much thought, finding them a bit ugly if I’m being honest. Yet for some reason, I decided to give the boxy shape a try, as they have a style all of their own.

            While scrolling through countless auctions, I found this Jobey mainly due to the price. The pipe had been relisted at a “Buy it Now” price of $7.99, and with shipping it ended up being around $12 That was cheaper than buying most new cobs. Scrolling back up to the picture of the Jobey, I thumbed through several images, checking for any flaws or obvious defects. The pipe was in a desperate need for a restoration, with the wood of the briar a dull brown and an ugly oxidized stem. Yet the stem was in tact, with no bite marks, and I found no cracks or signs of concern with the bowl.

            I couldn’t figure out why someone hadn’t jumped on the pipe for such a reasonable price. My only guess was because, well, the pipe was a bit of an oddball, and no one wanted to put the work into restoring it. Yet I found it’s strangeness appealing, with an octagonal bowl and square shank.

            Truth be told, I wasn’t lacking in briar pipes, but I still had a valid reason for purchasing it. Earlier in the year, I invested in tools and materials for restoring old briars, and I wanted a new project to putter around with for practice. If I could restore this old Jobey, I’d have the confidence to fix up a briar down the line with a name like Peterson, Savinelli, or perhaps Dunhill.

            I could’ve left the pipe and instead focus on fixing up the estates in my possession, as a few of them needed some TLC, and I didn’t know how to fix them up back when I bought them. Yet I kept going back to the description and reading the story behind the pipe. Normally when I buy an estate, I don’t know the history behind it. Here was one, though, with just that— a story, albeit a short one. This pipe was a treasured briar for someone who was most likely not with us anymore. How could I let it linger around on eBay, forgotten and no longer used?

            There’s an old motorboat sitting in the front yard of a house within walking distance from where I live. I always stop to take a look at it while walking my dog. It’s been stripped of parts, and sits exposed in the weather; with faded paint and slowly rotting away until it one day falls apart. It’s a ghostly sight, and when I walk by it, I half expect, half hope there will be an old sailor sitting next to it, smoking a pipe while spinning a yarn about the boat’s final adventure. While boats don’t have thoughts or feelings, I’ve often wondered what a boat would prefer: to languish on the shore for the remainder of its days, or to sink in water in a storm, going out in a blaze of glory?

            Likewise, I’ve often thought the same thing about the pipes I’ve seen tucked away in antique stores. Would they prefer to gather dust, surrounded by junk and vintage memorabilia in a store, never to be smoked again, or be used until they fall apart? Perhaps I’ve put too much thought into it, but that’s the dreamer side of me.

            These thoughts came to my mind as I debated whether to buy the pipe or not. I’d be frivolous with my money if I simply bought the pipe out of sympathy, and I’d feel like an idiot if I bought the pipe and the story wasn’t real. So I checked the seller’s other items, just to make sure the story seemed legit. The other items for auction seemed like knickknacks that an older gentleman would keep around the house, so my gut felt confident that the story checked out.

Throwing caution to the wind, I hit the “Buy it Now” button and paid for the pipe. $12 wasn’t a huge investment, and the pipe was unique enough that I felt justified in my purchase. The paneled billiard would certainly stand out amongst my other billiard shapes. A few days later, the pipe arrived on my doorstep, and I happily took it downstairs to my workshop to investigate my newest purchase. That initial excitement of receiving a new pipe in the mail has never left me, no matter how many briars and cobs I’ve picked up over the years.

The pictures on eBay didn’t lie, this Jobey definitely needed a complete cleaning, but to be fair, it also wasn’t one of those nightmare estates one can find for sale on eBay (you know the ones). The pipe had been well used, but the previous smoker took relatively good care of it. All that it needed was a good cleaning and I’d have it in my rotation in no time. The only surprise I wasn’t expecting was that this pipe took a filter. No problem, I threw the unused filter into the trash like I did with all my other filtered pipes. I thought nothing of that at the time, but if my life were a TV show, this would’ve been the point where ominous music played as the camera focused on the trash can.  

Using RebornPipes.com’s excellent posts as my guide, I went to work on the Jobey. I dropped the oxidized stem in some oxiclean for an hour while I started my initial cleaning on the briar. The day before, I had given the pipe the salt treatment for the bowl, so the inside of the bowl was finished without any need for reaming. The shank took a surprising amount of pipe cleaners, so I hoped the oxiclean would help break down the gunk in the stem as it cleared off the oxidization. Once I was happy with the condition of the shank, I cleaned and polished the outside of the briar using a special compound. The dull brown color on the rusticated briar soon had a nice polish on it, giving it a nice sheen.

I next removed the stem from the oxiclean and sanded off the grit. I rubbed the stem against my polishing bar, and buffed it with a towel until it had a shiny black color to it. All that was left was cleaning the inner part of the stem with pipe cleaners and everclear. This turned out to be the most laborious part of the process, as the stem took almost an entire pack of Dill pipe cleaners. The portion of the stem that held the filter in place was the hardest part, as I went through countless q-tips trying to clean it. The Jobey was easily the dirtiest estate I’ve had to clean out of all my pipes, but after about two hours, it was finished. I left the pipe to rest overnight, deciding I’d take it on its maiden voyage the next day.

Sunday night rolled around, so I gathered my pipes and prepared them for my evening writing session. I filled the Jobey with one of my favorites, Old Joe Krantz, and off I went to the garage to smoke my new estate for the first time. This would be the true test, as while the pipe cleaned up nice, if it didn’t smoke well, then all my elbow grease was all for naught.

After settling down, I struck a match and began to draw the flame into the bowl, eager to get the pipe nice and lit. Something strange happened, though, something I had never encountered before. While I was drawing the flame with a good amount of suction, there was something terribly wrong with the draw. As the tobacco lit, I soon noticed the reason for my difficulty, as wisps of smoke seeped between the stem and the shank.

I quickly removed the pipe from my mouth and checked the fit between the stem and shank. There didn’t seem to be a problem with the connection, as the stem had a snug fit with the shank. Yet air was obviously escaping between them, and it made smoking the pipe a tedious chore. I ended up having to wrap some masking tape around the bowl just to smoke it normally, and even then I could tell a difference in the draw compared to my other pipes. Eventually, I decided smoking this pipe was more difficult than it was worth and cut the smoke short, dumping a third of the bowl away. Suffice to say, this was not how I imagined my first smoke with the Jobey would go.

A lesser pipe man would’ve called it quits and sold the pipe off on eBay, but not ol’ BadgerPiper. I’m stubborn as my handle suggests, and I don’t give up easily. Off I went on social media and the This Pipe Life forums, searching for an answer to my Jobey problem. Surely someone out there had the solution to my leaky pipe conundrum. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long, and a fellow piper on twitter by the name of FeatherEW gave me some sound advice—the Jobey needed a filter.

As I’ve mentioned before, I hate filters, and I didn’t want to buy one of those packs of filters just to smoke one pipe. However, my twitter friend had a solution for that as well—buy a filter adapter. Savinelli happened to sell filter adapters on most pipe sites, so I could easily pick one up and see if that plugged the leak. However, I didn’t want to place an order for a single adapter, so I’d have to wait until my next order to buy one. The Jobey unfortunately would have to sit on my pipe rack, unused until I could buy more tobacco.

October came and went, followed by November, and eventually December, and with it, Christmas, glorious Christmas time. As soon as I had the money to order more pipe tobacco, off I went to tobaccopipes.com, and two different filter adapters made it into my cart. The last thing I needed was to order the wrong sized adapter, so I sacrificed an extra ounce on one of the blends to make sure I had the right one.

The box arrived a few days later, and I took my quarry down to the basement and grabbed that Jobey. Turns out, I made the right choice buying two different sized adapters, as the first one was too small for the Jobey. The smaller adapter didn’t go to waste, though, as it was the perfect fit to my filtered Peterson (which didn’t have a problem like the Jobey, but at least I can use it). The other adapter slid inside my Jobey just fine, and I loaded it once more with Old Joe Krantz for a second attempt.

The moment of truth had arrived, and as I struck a match and placed the flame over the paneled bowl, I hoped that all my efforts weren’t in vain. Immediately, most of my fears had been quelled, as the draw had the right amount of resistance. The tobacco lit without any problems, and I was soon smoking at a steady pace. I puffed slowly, keeping an eye on the stem and shank for any sort of leaks. While there as a small amount of smoke that seeped through, overall, it didn’t cause any problems for smoking.

The adapter wasn’t perfect, but in a way I feel as though it fits this ugly duckling of a pipe. The paneled Jobey won’t be winning any beauty awards, and it wont be the first pipe I reach for should my pipes ever be in danger. However, it’s a hardened smoker, and has treated me right since plugging up the leak.

The important thing for me is that the pipe is up and working again, smoking tobacco as it should. I did my best to honor the man who once owned the pipe, and I will continue to smoke it for the foreseeable future. I’ve done my work, so that whenever it’s passed on, its legacy can continue on with a new chapter.

Until next time friends, happy puffing,

-TheBadgerPiper

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4 thoughts on “The Case of the Leaky Pipe

  1. Happy to see that you went ahead, got the pipe, and invested the time to return it to the field. It is sad when an otherwise smokeable pipe is ‘retired’ from active service. Knowing a little of its history is all the starting point you need to speculate about what kind of a life it previously led, good way to hit upon a new character to write about. Be well – peace

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Skip! I’m happy to bring pipes back into service after they’ve been forgotten. It brings me some pride to know that I’ve taken someone’s favorite briar and continued it’s legacy. I’ve often thought about telling a story about a pipe, and the people who have owned it. It’s just an idea, and I’m not sure where to take it, but it’s there.

      Like

  2. Good job man! I’ve thought about picking up one of those adapters just to try it out, but to be honest, I’m kind of a spity smoker so the filters are kind of a relief to me….not having to worry about that part of my smoke when I’m clinching. Usually when I’m clinching, I’m working with my hands and if I have to stop constantly to soak up the spit, it kind of defeats the purpose of smoking while working. Good job cleaning it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point about filters that I never really thought about. I’m a spity smoker as well, which is why I tend to smoke when sitting down and not when working with my hands. I’m fidgety already with a pipe, and having to use a pipe cleaner all the time makes working while smoking a bit too cumbersome.

      Like

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