site index A-Z
Below is what I carry as a smoker and why?
I am a UK based 52 year old car mechanic who owns two repair workshops, I migrate between them both several times a day. In cars, sometimes on a motorbike. I always carry a bag with me. Containing my packed lunch, money and keys.
My smoking kit: 50 gram tobacco tin, two pipe cases and my tool pouch.
Open tool pouch with contents: Pipe cleaners is tube, Nalgene 15ml bottle with Vodka in it, Rodgers smokers knife, Brebbi tamper, two lighters, spare petrol canister, Dunhill adjustable pipe reamer, stem reamer with spares stored inside. Plus a pair of tweezers as I have - dead hands - white knuckle from air impact tools and struggle with flint changes on lighters.
My lighters. Gas Peterson. Petrol Nimrod Falcon. Zippo fuel canister. I prefer a gas lighter. Why then carry a petrol? Why two lighters? Gas pipe lighter's don't seem to have a contents level sight on them. And if I could find one - with a sight - I can't fit a gas filling aerosol into my pipe tool kit. So with spare petrol lighter and fluid. I always have a light when I run out of gas. I meter the petrol into the Nimrod a bit at a time from the sealed Zippo canister, so I don't waste my precious reserve fuel though evaporation. The petrol Nimrod is just so much better made and sealed than the Zippo lighter it replaced.
The Peterson lighter is far better design than the Corona Old Boy which I used to own and about a third of the price.
The Peterson @ £54.00 is bigger so it holds more gas. It has a dual flame burner - so it is better outside in the wind. You don't need to remove a fiddly screw to fill it. It has a hidden storage area in the bottom of the base for spare flints. The lift arm spring is better made and the design allows the arm to go back on itself without damage.
The IM Corona Old Boy @ £125.00 has a removable tamper, which can be used to unscrew the gas port filler cover and adjust the flame screw. Gas capacity is everything with a pipe lighter, the space used to store the tamper is space wasted for gas storage. I do think the IM Corona is better made than the Peterson thou - time will tell?
Most people suffer return spring failures on Corona Old Boy lighters - I have never had this problem. The only issue I have is the O-ring failing on the filler inlet one way valve causing gas leaks - this can be unscrewed and replaced with a suitable tiny watch crown O-ring. For a field repair you can use the O-ring off the gas flame adjuster screw - they are about the same size (then you will be constantly adjusting the flame as there will be nothing to hold the screw at the adjustment you have made). The final demise of my Corona lighter was the top tank outlet valve wore the inner fuel tank casing. To be honest in the eight years of ownership - I suffered constant gas leaks in one form or another. What is an acceptable lifespan for a £125 lighter, given hard usage...?
I also own another smaller pipe lighter which I carry about in my pocket for use when smoking roll-up cigarettes. It is a Tsubota Pearl Bolbo (above) from Japan @ £47.50 - this lighter has the quality of the Peterson - maybe even better quality? It has the same type of gas filling valve, hidden storage area for flints and lift arm return spring as the Peterson (I think the lighters are made in the same factory in Japan - they are so similar in construction?) Tsubota make another pipe lighter, the Pearl Eddie has a smaller gas capacity than the Bolbo. It does have pipe tamping - cleaning tools. They also make a big tank version with no tools, called the Tsubota Pearl Stanley which is indentical to the Peterson (but more expensive).
Gas capacity: Corona Old boy 3.3 grams. Tsubota Pearl Eddie 2.5 grams. Tsubota Pearl Bolbo 3.0 grams. Tsubota Pearl Stanley 4.0 grams. Peterson 4.0 grams. For comparison a standard plastic refillable Clipper lighter holds 3.5 grams and surprisingly a standard disposable BIC lighter holds 4.5 grams.
The thing about lighters is: They get dropped and knocked about. I see no value buying special finished lighters for extra money. You will note both my Peterson, Pearl and Corona are the lowest cost finish you can buy at the time of purchase.
I always use Zippo flints - they are softer and give a good shower of sparks - this saves your thumb and wear on your lighter wheel. Downside is they wear out quickly and cost twice as much as normal flints.
Petrol lighters are hard work - they are windproof - this is the only positive I can find. The big downside is they just keep running out of fuel - it just evaporates - even if you are not using them. Everytime you run out of fuel it starts to burn the wick away a bit. There is no getting over the fact petrol smells and you can taste it when you light up.
I am very hard on lighter usage. When I smoke a pipe it is on the edge of nearly going out all the while and I have to perform loads of re-lights. To me gas capacity is everything for a pipe smoker.
Pipe stem reamer with 3mm and 1/8 drills, spare flints in 2.5mm unshrunk heat shrink tubing (only heated at extreme ends of tubing to hold the flints in) and spare petrol wick all stored in handle. This is not a purpose made stem reamer, it is a cheap collet drill holder from China with two long drills I have found and cut to fit the inside storage space. The lighter wick - is to dip into the vodka then hold up to a flint spark on an empty lighter. Alcohol does not seem to work in a Zippo type lighter - but ignites a treat on a wick folded into two. You have to pre warm the wick in your hand first to get the alcohol to evaporate. Previous to this - in emercencies I used to ignite a vodka soaked cotton pipe cleaner.
Pipe cleaners. All tapered, both soft and bristled - you cannot used plastic bristled pipe cleaners as a lighting spill, for obvious reasons. Stored in German ABS cigar tube.
Manx Meerschaum poker pipe - its is a sitter and it is my favorite. It has taken decades of use to colour this oil hardened Meerschaum pipe. You can how far the stem goes into the mortice of the shank.
This is how I store them to dry when I am on the move. In a Comoys pipe zipped pipe glove.
Tool case is an old zipped glasses case and it has lasted me over twenty years. The zipper finger tab broke years ago - it has a bit of shoe lace knotted thru it (see above photos of Corona lighter).
I can see no point in buying a dedicated leather tobacco pouch. 50g tins are free - plus if I smoke rope or plug tobacco - I cut this up with my Rodgers knife inside the tin lid - using the tins round cardboard leaf inside the upturned tin lid as a cutting board to protect the edge of my knife. The Rodgers knifes do hold an edge when sharpened on a fine sandstone.
Portable pipe stands - if you really have to - you can engineer one from a wire cored pipe cleaner or two, then re-use them to clean your pipe at the end of your smoking session - grandchildren love the challenge of making pipe stands from pipe cleaners.
Pipes: The Laxey Manx Meerschaum pipe I use daily are made from Tanganyika Meerschaum mined in the Amboseli basin in Tanzania. They are oil baked and hardened. They are so much stronger than beeswax treated fragile Meerschaum offerings from Turkey.
A Meerschaum pipe is so much more suited for portablity than a briar pipe. Mainly because they dry so quickly - one little swab out with a pipe cleaner dipped in Vodka and you pack them away. You could get away with just one - keep filling the bowl after the pipe cools down.
A briar pipe needs a cake inside to protect the bowl. To be honest this cake smells if it is not really dry. So if you were packing away briar pipes in a bag after use - without letting them dry our propely. You are gonna get a wet smelly mess in the storage bag.
Like all pipe smokers I have too many pipes, I have briar pipes laying about drying out - "resting". At home, in my workshops, in my shed at home. Everywhere. I have bought far too many meerschaum pipes till I found my favorite. But I have only one set of tools to use with them all.
You will also note: If you are a pipe smoker the only expensive thing in the case is the Dunhill adjustable pipe reamer - which I only use with the briar pipes I leave everywhere, not carry about. If you are only going to smoke Meers exclusively - you don't need the cake build up - so thus you don't need a reamer.
I would love a Calumet Forge de Laguiole horn pipe knife from France, these are very rare and at €200 plus for a new one - I will have to keep looking for a used one on eBay.
I am also not convinced "price is your guide" when buying a smoking pipe. All of my pipes have been estate pipes. None of them have cost the earth.
Oh... Everybody always asks! What is my favorite tobacco? The bulk (90%) of what I smoke is Dunhill "Early Morning Pipe". Some Dunhill "Royal Yacht & Ye Olde Signe". Plus Davidoff "Danish Mixture", which is what my Father smokes. So if you know your blends - you will know I like Virginias and Orientals.
To conclude: As you can see I have two of everything. Plus three options for getting a pipe lit. I can can go about a week without having to stock up on lighter gas, petrol and pipe cleaners. I have enough kit with me, to maintain and clean my pipes.
Page updated 05-09-18