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I've left them outside, barely bother to clean them because the pipe cleaner is too narrow to scrub the stem, and still they smoke great.

Cobs aren't as sexy as some highly figured briar, but they over achieve where it really counts.
 

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I’m thinking that I might just replace the shank with a piece of bamboo, provided that I can find some.
That's actually a great idea.

Make sure to dry it out really well. In fact, cut several pieces that will fit, then give 'em several months to cure. Some will split as they dry, so having back-ups is best. And if you can find some young shoots still narrow enough down by the root, that's the best sections for durability. Polycoat helps ensure longevity, but only after the bamboo is dried.

I used to be involved in producing some commercial/artisan bamboo... uh... "items" ;) back in the day. My partner in the enterprise stored the bamboo we cut in his shed until it was ready for processing, usually about 6 months. Eventually, we gave up on using anything but bases just above the root - much more resilient and better looking. But then, we were using 2"-3" diameter, so it might not be as big a problem with pipe shanks. Nevertheless, the walls are thicker at the base and they get some interesting surface variegation, looking sort of like briar.
 

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