It’s a bit of a nasty day here in Apalachin. A little bit of snow on the ground and a fierce wind is wailing through the rafters. A good day to light the old F.E.S.S. churchwarden and update you on the progress of testing and breaking in this pipe.
This will be the final installment on our F.E.S.S. churchwarden trial for now.
We have been testing the 317RL 15″ churchwarden this past week and I think I have a pretty good idea of how this pipe smokes and what you can expect from this pipe if you decide to own one.
For centuries people have been making pipes from all sorts of materials – stone and bone and antler, clay and wood, tree roots, corn cobs, gourds, Meerschaum, glass and who knows what other minerals, metals, spare parts and refuse that was at hand at the time of need. The company that makes the F.E.S.S. pipes has sorted through all the materials available and has chosen to make a bowl made out of an unidentified hard wood. We think it is rosewood. It might be briar, but we doubt it. None of the literature we have been able to track down is specific about the type of wood. The stem is a hollow aluminum tube, silk screened to resemble wood, like a smooth tree branch with the bark removed.
The box says the pipe is hand made, but if that means hand assembled or if the bowls are made by hand is not clear.
The bottom line is that the pipe smokes well, but wet. The moisture never reaches your mouth but juice from the tobacco can leech out around the joint where the stem fits into the shank. You’ll want to hold the pipe by the bowl or else a few inches up the stem. Keeping the pipe clean is key to long term enjoyment. Clean the metal fitting after each bowl, but let the pipe cool before separating the stem from the bowl. Change the 9mm filter after every three or four bowls or as needed. The pipe comes with a filter, but I don’t think it can be cleaned, so just replace it when it gets dirty.
A nice pipe for sitting in front of the fireplace on a winter evening. This is not a high-end pipe by any means, we found the mouth piece to be not quite as snug as we’d like and were somewhat surprised by the metal stem, but personally, I found the pipe fun to smoke. I have smoked traditional briar pipes in a similar price range that were far less enjoyable.