Cobfoolery Tip, revised: Replacing the stem (bit) on your Missouri Meerschaum corn cob pipe

In the several years since I originally wrote on this topic several sources have come and go, so here's the most up to date info on this topic, as of April 2017.

When we started selling Missouri Meerschaum corn cob pipes online at Aristocob.com back in 2007 one of the biggest internal debates I had was what to call the part of the pipe that people put into their mouth.  I had always called this the "stem", but others called it a "mouthpiece".  To make things even more complicated Missouri Meerschaum referred to this as a "bit".  My understanding was that the "bit" was the far end of the stem, where the biting takes place.  At any rate, we decided that for the sake of continuity that we would refer to them as bits, just as Missouri Meerschaum (MM) did, but to this day I feel that was a mistake, so from here on in this post I wall refer to these as stems.

One of the fastest ways of modifying a corn cob pipe is to swap the stem.  You can do this between genuine MM bits, as long as you understand that there are two different tenon sizes.  Oh yeah, the tenon is the part of the stem that is dowel-like and inserts into the wooden shank.  All of the MM filtered bits have an O.D. of 8.7-8.8mm and an I.D. that will accommodate a 6mm filter, but it's important to note that they can be smoked with or without a filter installed.  The I.D. of the wooden shank is approximately 9mm and this hole is often ever-so-slightly tapered. And all of these "filtered" bits are interchangeable, so if you want to switch the stem from black to amber, or if you want to swap it for a thinner or wider stem, you can do this at will.  My personal favorite is the Danish stem in either black or amber.

Amber Danish stem from www.Aristocob.com

Another range of genuine MM stems is the non-filtered "slim" stems.  These are found on the smaller pipes, like the Pony Express, the Mizzou, the Patriot, the novelty miniature cobs, and on the other end of the size spectrum this stem is standard on the MacArthur pipes.

Lastly in the original MM range is the non-filtered vulcanized rubber stem that is found on the Freehand pipe.  This stem is only available in a bent shape we have learned that it can be straightened using the hot water method shown in the video below. Though the Freehand bit is an unfiltered stem, the tenon is sized to fit into the filtered shanks only.  That makes this stem an ideal upgrade for the bent Legend, Washington, Country Gentleman, the Diplomat, the General, the Kolonel (5th Avenue) the Ozark Mountain, the Missouri Pride, the Woodie's and the Spool.  Find all of these stock replacement stems at Aristocob.com.

Want to bend a stock MM pipe?  Watch this video.


There are now several aftermarket options available if you want to move away from the stock range of stems.  Here are a few of your choices:

Custom Made Stems:

Walker Briar Works: When I last wrote about this Dave Wolff had been expertly repairing and restoring pipes for years and had created line of Vulcanite and Lucite (acrylic) stems for MM pipes that he called the "Forever Stem".  I purchased one of the Lucite stems for one of my pipes and found it to be of high quality and a good value.

Since then... Pat Morgan, the lovely bride of Missouri Meerschaum's Plant Manager Phil Morgan purchased the Forever Stem line from Dave and after some training from Dave and a rocky start due to wild fluctuations in supplies Pat has re-launched the website Old Log Cabin Pipeworks to offer the popular "Forever Stem" once again.  These are sized to fit the "filtered" Missouri Meerschaum corn cob pipes, but they do render the pipe "unfiltered".


An example of Old Log Cabin Pipeworks "Forever Stems"

Here are some DIY Stem options:

Vermont Freehand:
With the 2016 demise of Pipemakers Emporium many cob modders were left to wonder where to go for their pipemaking supplies. Well wonder no more. Steve Norse at Vermont Freehand had us covered. You'll find both acrylic and vulcanized rubber stem blanks in a staggering variety of shapes and colors. For example, click on this pic to see the color range of his acrylic stems alone.


On another note, pen makers will find that their acrylic rod offering is vast and very reasonably priced and would be my choice over the retail selection found in most woodworking stores.

One important fact to note: The stem blanks sold at Vermont Freehand are rough, unfinished and feature an oversized tenon blank that will not fit a pipe shank.  You must cut the tenon to size, remove rough casting lines and finish the surfaces yourself.  That's your reward for going it alone, so if that sounds daunting you might just want to scroll on back to Old Log Cabin Pipeworks.
 An example of a vulcanized rubber stem blank from Vermont Freehand 

Do you really want a challenge?  I like your style.  You can do like many professional pipe makers do and create your own stems from wood, bone, acrylic or hard rubber.  While you can get some of these from suppliers who cater to pipe makers (VF, for example), many of these components are also sold by knife making suppliers and woodworking stores such as Woodcraft and Rockler.  Search their sites for "Pen blank".

An example of an acrylic pen blank from Woodcraft

That about wraps it up for now. Don't forget that the Missouri Meerschaum bits (stems) are very inexpensive and therefore you can swap them for a new one for pennies!
Check them out on our very own website www.Aristocob.com / Spare Pipe Stems/Bits

Aristocob's "Official" 2017 Cobfoolery Contest Announcement



Get cool-smoking Missouri Meerschaum corn cob pipes and Cobfoolery kits at http://www.Aristocob.com

Woohoo, it's Cobfoolery time!

This year (2017) the Cobfoolery contest will run the entire month of April and we will have two classes: Pro and Amateur and two Categories: Classic and Freehand.

Your entry needs to feature a genuine Missouri Meerschaum corn cob chamber, while the balance of your pipe can be made of any other material including wood, metal, clay, plastic, glass, zucchini, fabric, snow crab or any other material you can concoct.

We will NOT be requiring the finalists to ship their pipes to us.  We heard from several folks from outside the USA in 2014 and this requirement eliminated several of them due to delays they anticipated in shipping and in the various Customs departments. So to enter this year you'll need to post a video on Youtube showing off your entry and describing what you've done to modify while hopefully improve your corn cob pipe.  Your video MUST be titled "My entry in Aristocob's 2017 Cobfoolery Contest: (followed by your pipe's name).

For example, I made a pipe a couple years back that I titled the "Pierced Ear", so if I were entering it in this year's contest I would title my video: "My entry in Aristocob's 2017 Cobfoolery Contest: "The Pierced Ear".  Make sense?  Good!

Your entry must be posted on Youtube by midnight April 30th, and on May 1st we will announce the 6 finalists in each of the two classes and in the two categories and more details about the judging.

What can you win?

All of the 24 entrants whose pipes are selected as finalists will receive a $10 gift code which can be redeemed towards merchandise on www.Aristocob.com.

If your pipe is selected as one of the Grand Prize Winners you will receive another $50 in Aristocob merchandise as well as a special limited addition Missouri Meerschaum Freehand pipe on a special laser engraved plaque!

Also, as an incentive to get your videos submitted we will do weekly drawings for the folks who have their entries submitted.

Let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to seeing what you can come up with.

Scott


email me at: aristocob@gmail.com

Tips for growing your own corn cob pipes for Aristocob's 2017-18 Homegrown Cobfoolery contest!

In this new video Scott (from Aristocob.com) learns from Missouri Meerschaum's General Manager Mr. Phil Morgan all about the process of planning for, planting, harvesting and drying corn for making corn cob pipes.  Get your own genuine Missouri Meerschaum seed corn, corn cob pipe kits and even completed pipes that are ready for action at www.Aristocob.com


Grown your own Corn Cob Pipe with Genuine Missouri Meerschaum Seed Corn and enter the 2017-18 Homegrown Cobfoolery Contest!

Hey, Scott from Aristocob.com here. Jandy and I are proud to be able to offer for the first time ever, genuine Missouri Meerschaum seed corn! That’s right, we were able to acquire from Missouri Meerschaum a small supply of their seed corn for a special “Homegrown Pipe” category of the 2017-18 Aristocob Cobfoolery contest. To make your corn cob pipemaking easy we are bundling with the seeds 2 genuine Missouri Meerschaum hardwood stems and bits, together with two Aristocob "Patented" golf-tee tampers into what we are calling our "Homegrown Cobfoolery Seed Corn Kit".  

Learn more about this unique opportunity by visiting www.Aristocob.com and searching "Cobfoolery".  Learn more on the Aristocob Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/Aristocob and by watching the announcement video (below). Other videos will follow shortly on the Aristocob Youtube channel at www.Youtube.com/Aristocob