It’s not a secret here that I’m a fan of corncob pipes. Yes, I dearly love my briars, but over the years I’ve come to truly appreciate the simplicity of a well-worn corncob pipe. Cobs can take just about anything you throw at them and make the blend sing. In fact, I’m of the belief that the Missouri Meerschaum Country Gentleman might be the perfect pipe in terms of size and bowl.
But if I had one minor, and I mean minor, gripe about corncob pipes, it’s the plastic stem that comes with the standard cobs. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the look of the amber stems and think it fits perfectly with the overall look. However, there’s no denying that the plastic stems aren’t built to last. Over time, the stems loosen in the shank, and if you’re very unlucky, the mouthpiece will crack. I don’t consider myself a hard clencher with my pipes, but even I’ve cracked a plastic cob stem in my time.
Now, Missouri Meerschaum has a few cobs that come with an acrylic stem, which is a nice change of pace. These include their Charles Towne, Carolina Gent, and Emerald cobs, all of which are excellent additions to any pipe smoker’s collections. However, for their classic lines, you’re stuck with those regular plastic stems.
While no one has ever made one of those TV infomercials about corncob pipes, much less pipes, but if you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’d imagine it would look something like this…
Announcer: Are your corncob pipe stems giving you trouble?
Tired of loose plastic stems causing your cob to drop out of your mouth while smoking it?
Have you cracked the mouthpiece for your pipe stem while clenching your cob like normal?
Do you hear your cob stems plotting against you behind your back?
Has a plastic cob stem ever tried to kill you by lodging itself into your throat?
Me: [Gagging as I spit the cob stem out of my mouth] That’s it, I’m switching to briar pipes for good.
Announcer: Don’t throw your cobs away! Instead give your cobs the stems they deserve and try Walker Briar Works Forever Stems!
[A Walker Forever stem appears in my hand]
Me: Wow, thanks Walker Briar Works!
Announcer: That’s right! Now you too can have a high quality vulcanite or Lucite stem for all your favorite corncob pipes. Walker Briar Works has you covered, with a variety of vulcanite and Lucite stems in an assortment of colors for your filtered and non-filtered cobs. So what are you waiting for? Get on their website and order one today!*
Ever since I plunged into the world of corncob pipes, I’ve heard from other cob fans about forever stems. After owning a Charles Towne cob and falling in love with its forever stem, I couldn’t look at my regular plastic stems the same way again. Certainly, the plastic stems get the job done, but it was time for an upgrade.
Last year, I did some searching on the internet and discovered Walker Briar Works. Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and headed by Dave Wolff, Walker Briar Works has made a nice business out of creating forever stems for Missouri Meerschaum corncob pipes. Dave makes quality forever stems that will last long after your corncob pipe has burned out.
Walker Briar Works has an incredible selection of forever stems for both filtered and non-filtered cobs. All you need to do is pick whichever cob in your collection you want to pair with a forever stem, and shop in the appropriate category. If your cob is filtered, be warned that the forever stem does not have a place to fit a filter, as the base of the stem was enlarged to fit inside the bigger shank, so there isn’t a gap for the filter to fit inside. This is fine by me, as I don’t use filters, but I know some folks out there use and appreciate them. If you’re one of those people, pick one of the non-filtered cobs in your collection instead.
Without a doubt, Walker Briar Works forever stems’ biggest advantage is the sheer variety of stems available for purchase. Not only do you get to choose between a Lucite or vulcanite stem, but also the size and color of the stem. You heard me right, you have more than two colors to pick from! If you want to stick with a classic black stem and keep it simple, Walker Briar Works has you covered. Want to branch out and have a colorful stem to add some flair to your cob? Walker Briar Works has plenty of colors that would make Joseph’s coat of many colors blush. There’s even ones similar to the amber colored forever stem to give your cob that classic look but made of sturdier material.
Likewise, Walker Briar Works also has different lengths for their stems, allowing you to customize the length of your cob. Want to make your Country Gentleman closer to a nose warmer? There’s a black nose warmer forever stem with your name on it. Want to turn that Spool cob into a mini-churchwarden? You have plenty of options to pick from, and in a wide selection of colors, too. I highly recommend visiting Walker Briar Work’s page just to see all the options at your fingertips.
Now, due to the quality of Walker Briar Works’ forever stems’, don’t expect to pay the same price as you would for a replacement stem from Missouri Meerschaum. These stems are a bit of an investment, as they cost more than most of the cobs on Missouri Meerschaum’s site, on average between $21-$27. Don’t let that dissuade you, though, as these stems are so well made that they’ll easily outlast the cob’s they’re paired with. You can even switch the stem around between your cobs, as long as you have the appropriate cob shank size for each stem.
On the bright side, shipping for all stems is a flat $3 in the United States. Even if you buy multiple stems, you’re still only going to pay only $3 for the whole shebang. You can’t beat that price anywhere for a pipe related item from what I’ve seen. Now, price is one thing, but how is the service? Walker Briar Works earns top marks in this regard, too. I ordered my stems around the New Years holiday, and on a Saturday night. Dave shipped my stems on the following Monday, and I had my package waiting for me on Thursday, and that’s with New Years Day interrupting the postal service. Dave also sent me an email on Sunday, letting me know he was going to get my package out as soon as he could. How many pipe retailers out there pay this close of attention to customer service?
Now the important question— how are the stems, and are they worth the price? I ordered the ‘Royal’ Lucite Fire Swirl stem and the 3 ½ inch ‘Spear’ Lucite Black Rose stem for two of my Country Gentleman cobs. As soon as I got the package, I put the new stems on my cobs. While some cobs might take a bit to adjust with the new stems, mine had a nice, snug fit inside the shank of both cobs and stayed in place without any issues.
What impressed me with these stems is the length they added to my cobs. I tend to prefer longer pipes, and with the added length of the stems, the two Country Gentleman cobs rivaled the size of my Bing cob, which is the longest non-Churchwarden cob in my collection. You can find a smaller version of the Spear stem if you wish, but I’m very pleased with now mine turned out.
The quality of the stems is easily on par with Missouri Meerschaum’s acrylic stems, and their look takes my cobs to the next level. The Lucite stems clench like a dream, and I have no issues having them hang from my jaw as I type on my laptop. It does take a few minutes to adjust from the chewy grip you get with a plastic stem, but after that it becomes second nature.
What the Walker Briar Works forever stems accomplishes is truly remarkable. They combine the best of both worlds with briar and corncob pipes into one unique package. You get the fantastic smoking quality of a corncob pipe with the added security of a dependable stem rivaling a briar pipe. These stems are absolutely worth every penny you invest in them, and they’ll last as long as you smoke a corncob pipe. Give Walker Briar Works forever stems a chance, and you’ll walk away a happy customer.
Until next time, happy puffing friends,
*No Corncob pipes were harmed in the making of this infomercial. Corncob pipes are not actively trying to kill you. If you hear your corncob pipe plotting against you, it is advised you seek professional help before smoking one again.