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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After some advice on these forums I picked up a couple of MM cobs at my B & M today. I used search to see if this had been addressed, and while I found a pretty awesome thread for "mudding" a broken in cob I didn't see this specifically mentioned.

Should I work them like a briar, starting with small bowls and developing a cake all the way up?
Is it necessary to cure the inside with honey or ash prior to smoking, or is that more a technique for after you see some pitting in the bowl?

I have to confess that for $6 I had a couple flakes in it before I got home, it hadn't even really occurred to me to break them in gently. I was impressed by the even burn, and once I ripped that paper obscenity out quite a nice smoke.

I have read of people having cobs last years, what is a typical lifespan on one of these? I noticed the super cheap stem, and if they last several years smoking this well I may have to get one of those lucite cob stems.
 

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I really don't think a cob needs a breaking in period. I use mine like a workhorse. I pack it and smoke, just a slight rest between smokes. I heard of people popping holes in the bottom or snapping the stem if not careful but, if you treat em well they treat you well. I still have my originals that i bought back in ~December when I hadn't a clue about pipes, and now I love them...Cheap stems? Check out the forever stems , I did, and got a 8" churchwarden for my cobs. These cobs got a whole new attitude. I'm very happy with them. My briars and meer are sitting the bench. Cobs and forever stem have been my starters all day.
 

· Pacific Puffer
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No breaking in is the beauty of your new cobs. Load 'em and smoke 'em. A forever stem is my next investment as well. You only need 1 and then you can use it for all of your cobs. I have heard of some people with cobs for 10+ years. They make great knock around pipes but if you treat them properly they will last you much longer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank for the input! I have to say I am enjoying them so far, slight piney taste and all. Nice to be able to mix something in to rest the briars.
I like that Churchwarden stem, thank you for mentioning it. I think I will invest in one.
 

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I have one cob that I bought in the 1990s, yes the 1990s, and it is still going strong. Now, I didn't used to smoke it that much, a couple times a month maybe, because when I wanted a smoke I would always reach for my briars (and occasionally my meer). Lately, it gets smoked a lot more (at least once a week, sometimes more- whenever I want a shorter smoke since most of my briars have large bowls, I usually smoke outside so whenever the weather is bad and I don't want to risk a briar, and when trying a new tobacco, which lately is quite a lot). If it is part of a rotation and you don't smoke the same cob every single day, I don't see why it can't last you for years.

The stem is the weakpoint. Luckily, you can buy new mouthpieces for just a couple bucks, and for just over $20 you can get a real vulcanite or lucite stem for it.

As for break-in, as others have said, there isn't any necessary with a cob. Just like with meer or clay you actually don't need, or even want, a cake with a cob.
 

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Why do you not want to have cake in your cakes?
I have it in mine, seems like a good thing to me due to the fragile material.
I have used honey, on spots around where the shank enters the bowl, when it sometimes start to burn into the cob itself. I have mixed a drop of honey with some water to make it easier to apply, then I use a brush, q-tip or folded pipecleaner.
If you dont want any cake, how do you prevent it?
 

· Sot-weed Bohemian
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That turpentine taste goes away before you've smoked 10 bowls, I'd say. I supposed how long they last is how much you smoke them and how rough you are with them. I've heard people say they threw one away because the pine shank came loose and "fell out" or developed cracks, etc. Elmer's glue is your MM friend! Coat any cracks in the stem or glue it back in the bowl if it falls out. No problems!
 

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Why do you not want to have cake in your cakes?...
If you dont want any cake, how do you prevent it?
You don't really want cake because it can interfere with some of the advantages of a cob. One of the big advantages of a cob is that it absorbs moisture very well leading to a drier smoke and any material (like cake) coating the walls could interfere with that. Another is that it provides a cooler smoke, so why insulate the walls of your cob with a material and risk losing that advantage. Cobs are neutral, they don't impart taste to tobacco or ghost- cake could potentially hold some "history" of tobaccos past, so I'd rather not risk losing this advantage. An unevenly formed cake or one with voids can increase the chance of a burnout, so why use it in a pipe that doesn't need it. One of the big advantages of a cob is its simplicity and ease of maintenance and I don't want to add an unnecessary complication trying to insure an even build-up of cake.

Cake isn't needed in a cob. Cake is there in a briar to help protect it- cobs are inexpensive and it would take a long time to burn through one, so a need for cake is negligible at best.

One danger of too much cake even in a briar is that it can crack the bowl. Corn cob is not as strong a material as wood so it probably wouldn't take nearly as much cake to crack a cob.

My number one reason for saying it isn't needed and even unwanted is that this is what all the oldtimer cob experts will tell you. That is good enough for me.

All that said, while I do not try to form a cake in my cob (and won't in future cobs), I don't necessarily take extra steps to prevent it. Again, one of the big advantages of a cob is its simplicity. Another is that they are cheap. I'll clean it thoroughly and I'll use a bent pipe cleaner to clean out the bowl after every use. However, I'm not adding an extra step and wiping out the interior with a paper towel or damp rag like I might with a clay or meer. If I build some cake and end up cracking the bowl, cobs are cheap. If I start to have a problem with cake in my cob I can simply ream it once in a while to remove the cake (instead of adding a step every smoke to prevent it), and again, if i get to it too late, cobs are cheap.
 

· Puffer With No Spikes
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Is it just me or do cobs seem to be more resistant to cake build up? I mean, I've been smoking the same 2 cobs a couple of times a day for the last 3 monts, I never wipe out the bowl. Cake just never seems to build up in these things.
 

· Sot-weed Bohemian
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Is it just me or do cobs seem to be more resistant to cake build up? I mean, I've been smoking the same 2 cobs a couple of times a day for the last 3 monts, I never wipe out the bowl. Cake just never seems to build up in these things.
You can still see the waffle pattern on the interior of the bowls after 100 smokes without doing much of anything to keep them cake free. Weird.
 

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You can still see the waffle pattern on the interior of the bowls after 100 smokes without doing much of anything to keep them cake free. Weird.
:sad: Am I weird... Is there something wrong with me??:sad:

The cobs I have are 1-2 years old and I ream them regulary.
I have to use sandpaper because they're so small and all caked up.
Jeff had many good arguments against cake. The ghost argument I've solved by smoking latakia in only one of them.
I have been thinking about ordering some larger ones, I'll see what's happening to them. But one thing is for sure, at the first sign of burnout I'm starting to bake a cake.
As stated previous in this tread, cob smoking should be care free. And to me that means not being affraid smoking through the bowls walls. I did'nt think I was puffing that heavy, maybe I am.
 

· Sot-weed Bohemian
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:sad: Am I weird... Is there something wrong with me??:sad:

The cobs I have are 1-2 years old and I ream them regulary.
I have to use sandpaper because they're so small and all caked up.
Actually, on re-examination, the waffle pattern is visible on only one of my Legends now, the newest, but it took a long time to appear on the others. I remember thinking how slow they caked up, using that pattern as a reference. The cake is still thin, considering how much I smoke them.

Anyhow, it might be what gets smoked in them. My cobs seem to get overtime with the gunkless flakes, since the bowl size is very nice for an easy fold and stuff. If I was smoking 1Q or something in them, that would give an entirely different result cakewise, I would think.
 

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The stem is the weakpoint. Luckily, you can buy new mouthpieces for just a couple bucks, and for just over $20 you can get a real vulcanite or lucite stem for it.
MM sells replacement stems for 25 cents. I prefer the "danish" stem as the bit has a bit better "mouth feel" than there other stem design. The "danish" stem works even better with a some heat shrink tubing on the bit.

The Forever Stem's are great (based on the one, "nose warmer" stem I own.) Best "mouth feel" of any pipe stem I've experienced.
 
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