Tag Archives: Carey Magic Inch Pipes

A Friend’s Second Commission: Rejuvenation of a Carey Magic Inch Pat. 3267941 Apple

Blog by Dal Stanton

This is my first time working on a Carey Magic Inch pipe, but it has a reputation for being a uniquely American made pipe with bold claims of having secured ‘Pipedom’s’ holy grail, “The cooler and dryer smoke.” The Carey Magic Inch came to me from a good friend, Dave Shane. I worked with Dave when we were both younger men – he much younger than I(!), in Ukraine, a pipe man and restorer himself (see: https://www.thepipery.com). When I was in the US a few years ago I visited Dave and he gifted me a box of pipes that he hoped would benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls we work with here in Bulgaria who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. The Carey Magic Inch was in this trove for the Daughters. Later, after posting pictures of these pipes in my online collection, ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’, another friend of mine of many years, Steve, saw the Magic Inch Apple and commissioned it along with a French GBD Sablée Standard, a beautifully blasted bent Billiard which I have already restored (A Long-time Friend Commissions a Blasted French GBD Sablée Standard Bent Billiard). Here are original pictures of the Carey Magic Inch Apple now on the worktable. The nomenclature on the left shank flank is ‘CAREY’ [over] ‘MAGIC INCH’ [over] Pat. No. 3267941 – the governmental protective seal of the ‘Magic Inch’.  When I first unpacked this pipe to take these pictures, I was intrigued by the vents and filters and how all this pipe wonder worked!  The stem pictured above has the characteristic raised box ‘C’ marking its Carey provenance.  When I first saw it, I pressed the box thinking that it was a button or slide that somehow adjusted the vents and potential louvers that I thought might be hiding somewhere.  But it doesn’t work anything. Along with the gold shank divider ring, it decorates the stem.Pipedia’s information is scant but provides several pictures of different Magic Inch pipes:

The “Magic Inch” System has been a Carey’s tradition for over 50 years, with over 1,000,000 sold. The “Magic Inch” is an air chamber inserted between the imported briar bowl and the vented mouthpiece which allows cool outside air to enter and mix with the warm tobacco smoke inside the “Magic Inch” chamber. Tobacco tars, oils and moisture, are squeezed out of the smoke. The residue drops to the bottom of the chamber and is absorbed by the Papyrate sleeve. From its rich tradition and thousands of satisfied customers, this pipe is sure to be your smoking favorite for life.

The Pipedia article also provided the US based website for Carey pipes.  I found an article there printed with permission from PipesandTobaccosMagazine.com by William Serad with William Miller, who came into possession of E. A. Carey in 1982.  The article is a good resource which traces the history of the E. A. Carey company from 1948 to 2018, including patent diagrams and descriptions.  The article by Serad begins with comments about the sales pitches that became a Carey gimmicky trademark – “Try my pipe for 30 days” with an offer that if you weren’t pleased with the pipe you could take a hammer to it and return it for a full refund!  Serad’s article begins:

In the great American tradition of everyman briar pipes, many names come to mind: Dr. Grabow, Yello-Bole, Kaywoodie and Medico, among others. To me, the one with the most attention-getting advertising was always the E.A. Carey pipe: “Try my pipe FREE for 30 days. If you don’t like my pipe, smash it with a hammer and send me the pieces.”

That second part became, “If you don’t like it for any reason, just return it to E.A. Carey for a 100 percent refund, no questions asked.” What an offer! Plus, the pipes feature the famous Carey Magic Inch, a unique smoking system protected by U.S. Patent 3,267,941.

The article describes the birth of the Carey Magic Inch starting in 1952 when the original patent was issued (work started in 1948) for a ‘smoking device’ to Max J. Doppelt of Chicago.  The original design was not successful, but through development the current patent. No. 3267941 was secured in 1966 with the design that hasn’t changed since.  Instead of wholesaling the Magic Inch, Doppelt started the practice of direct mail order which continues to this day with people purchasing the pipes directly from E. A. Carey.  In reading the article, I was also interested to read that not to complicate Doppelt’s life, the Magic Inch was only produced as a straight Billiard shape in those days.  At that time, the pipes were made for Doppelt by Comoy’s of London.  What stands out as the hallmark of this period was the over the top sales marketing that appealed to the ‘everyday man’ and the sale of the E. A. Carey Magic Inch pipe grew.

On the ‘info’ page of the E. A. Carey website, I clipped this entire section to include in this write up.  My initial intrigue with all the ‘bells and whistles’ of the pipe was punctuated with the question, ‘How does this pipe work?’ Of course, the E. A. Carey sales pitch hype is rife throughout, but I believe the years of unchanged design and the fact that it still enjoys a sizable market share, provides the space for some bragging rights!The E. A. Carey Magic Inch Pat. No. 3267941 on my worktable, I’m calling a ‘refresh’ because it appears to have been smoked maybe once or a very few times.  It shows only a very small darkened lighting burn spot on the rim (marked below), but essentially no residue in the chamber that I see.  Looking at the stem, there are only scratches and blemishes that would result from being in a drawer or in an old collector cigar box for a time.  One question that I have as a restorer is the finish on the stummel.  The grain is very attractive, but the finish seems to be an acrylic which I’ve described as a ‘candy apple’ finish that hides the natural briar shine.  This is common from factory mass produced pipes.  I take a few pictures looking at these areas now on my worktable. Before starting the work, since I have never worked on a Carey Magic Inch before this, I wasn’t sure that I could remove the mortise insert – on the diagram above, it doesn’t provide any clues.  Since its plastic, I don’t want to risk damaging the pipe.  I decide to look at rebornpipes to see what Steve’s experience has been with the Magic Inch.  I’m glad I looked!

From the restorations I looked at he did a few years ago, he had quite a time working on the stems of these restorations.  The restorations were from the same haul Jeff Laug had secured from Montana and sent on to Steve for restoration.  The first was a freehand, Carey Magic Inch Freehand Briar Pipe, that set the stage for the next Magic Inch from the same batch – Another Painful 70s Era E.A. Carey Magic Inch Apple Restored.  The second title says it all.  After reading the two blogs, it became evident that the material the stems are made of is a bear to sand and polish up.  Also, in Steve’s restorations, he left the mortise insert intact.  If that was his approach, that will be mine as well. In my E. A. Carey Magic Inch search on rebornpipes, Robert Boughton’s characteristic witty approach to blog writing was on display in his work on a Magic Inch he restored.  The write up had an excellent recitation of the Carey history including patent diagrams – worth the read if you want to lean more! (Conjuring a Makeover for a Carey Magic Inch)

After reading Steve’s ‘love/hate’ relationship restoring Carey Magic Inch pipes, I can be thankful that the pipe is in good shape from the starting gate.  However, my approach to the stem will require a bit more thought.  I begin by cleaning the internals of the stummel.  Using pipe cleaners alone wetted with isopropyl 95% I go to work.  I find that there’s no work to be done – totally clean. Also, additionally using cotton buds, the stem internals are clean as well.  It’s possible this pipe has never been smoked.Next, to clean the external briar surface, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad and scrub the briar.  After cleaning, I take the stummel to the sink and rinse it with tap water.  The surface was not that grimy but what I wanted to see was how the finish would react to the cleaning.  The finish dulled through the cleaning which clues me to know that the finish is not an acrylic based which is good. This allows me to preserve the patina but bring out the natural briar without the chemical acrylic overcoat to fight. With the finish not in bad shape, I simply want to spruce up the natural briar shine and remove minor scratches and nicks.  To do this I start with a medium grade sanding sponge and sand the stummel.  I follow this with a light grade sponge.  The briar of this Apple stummel is very attractive.Next, I run the stummel through the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Starting with pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand.  Following this I dry sand using pad 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The progression is shown. The micromesh process reveals a very beautiful grain presentation on this Carey Magic Inch – this is not a second-rate swatch of briar.  To enhance the hues of the natural briar, I utilize Mark Hoover’s, Before & After Restoration Balm (www.ibepen.com).  I use this product because it teases out the subtle, deeper natural hues of the briar grain without getting in the way.  Placing some of the Balm on my finger, I work it into the briar surface thoroughly.  As I’ve described before, it starts as a crème-like substance out of the tube but thickens into a waxy consistency during application.  After applying, I set the stummel aside allowing the Balm to do its things.  The picture below is taken in the ‘absorbing’ state.  After about 20 minutes, I wipe off the excess Balm with a cloth and then buff it up with a micromesh cloth.Turning now to the feisty stem, I take a few fresh pictures aiming the reflection on the stem to magnify the issues of the plastic-like material the Carey stems are made of. I begin sanding focusing only on the issues I see, not wishing to sand where not needed.  I use 470 grade paper followed by dry sanding with 600 grade paper, then finishing this phase with 000 grade steel wool.  This approach seems to have done an adequate job, but some very small imperfections persist – a sparkling spot on the upper side persists. After repeating the process on the ‘sparkle zone’ with 470/600/000 and seeing no improvement in this area, I decide to leave well enough alone.  The picture below shows very small pits that persist.I move on to applying the full regimen of micromesh pads. My usual approach is to wet sand with the first 3 pads, 1500 to 2400, but this time around, I decide to stay on the dry side for this material only using Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads.  Following the first three, I follow with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I like the results.  Along with Steve’s assessment in his dealings with Carey stems, I’m not a fan. The material is stubborn and does not easily give up its blemishes. After completing the micromesh phase, I rejoin the stem and stummel and apply Blue Diamond to the pipe.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, set the speed at 40% full speed and apply the compound. I pay attention to the one area on the upper stem that was not giving up a small area of speckling.  I sanded it, micromeshed it, and it continues to hold on.  I hope that the fine highspeed abrasion of the compound might help.Well, the speckling persists, but it is much diminished and not something to worry over.  I’m very pleased with the stem.  I use a felt cloth now to wipe off the excess compound that tends to cake and congregate along the edges of things.  I make sure this is removed before proceeding to the waxing phase.After changing to another cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel, maintaining the same speed, I apply a few coats of carnauba wax to both stummel and stem. After the application of the wax, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to disperse excess wax as well as to raise the shine.

Without doubt, this Carey Magic Inch came to me in a passable condition, but now I believe its condition is better than new.  One’s first impression (or at least mine) of the quintessential patented American Carey Magic Inch is its bells and whistles with the ‘Magic’ hype.  Yet, without having ever tried the patented filtering system for myself, I must rely on the years that it has been in use.  Yet, there is nothing hyped about the quality of the grain of this Carey Apple stummel.  Wow!  The grain is almost without blemish.  I found no fills in it. The grain patterns are tight and dense with a varied swirl moving diagonally.  The heel of the flat underside is full of nicely woven bird’s eye pattern.  The Apple bowl is very happy to rest in the palm and to serve!  Steve saw and commissioned this Carey Magic Inch from the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ online collection and will have the first opportunity to claim it in The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Another Painful 70s Era E.A. Carey Magic Inch Apple Restored

Blog by Steve Laug

Reading the title of this blog you might wonder why I called it another painful Carey pipe. As this refurb description unfolds I think it will become clear what I mean by the title. In the Montana pipes that my brother Jeff sent me there were four E.A. Carey Magic Inch Patent pipes. I worked on the first one in the photo below, the Freehand and found that the bowl was a piece of cake. Getting the plastic apparatus cleaned in the shank was a challenge that took a lot of pipe cleaner and patience to move through. Because of that I have honestly been avoiding working on any of the others in the foursome. I have worked on a lot of others that have been sitting just because the cleaning is a pain, but more importantly trying to clean up the chewed up stems and getting any kind of shine on them is painstaking. The plastic cleans up well enough and I am able to repair the bite marks. The dents will not raise with heat, the inside of the stem takes a lot of scrubbing and is cavernous so lots of cotton swabs are sacrificed and lots of pipe cleaners. The plastic does not take kindly to the boiling alcohol of a retort so I am left to do the work by hand. Then once cleaned polishing the stem feels like an impossible challenge. I don’t remember how many hours of sanding with micromesh pads and then carefully, lightly buffing with the buffer went into bringing the shine on the Freehand so the lot just sat taunting me in my refurb box.

Finally, a few days ago I went through the remaining threesome to see if I had any sudden urge to work on one of them. I looked them over one at a time, examining the internals, the condition of the rim and the briar and also the stem….argghh. The stems on all of them have identical chew and bite marks. All were a mess. One of them stood out to me though and I ventured into working on it. It is the second pipe down from the top in the photo below (I have circled it in red).Carey4
Carey5Before I jumped into working on it I figured I better take some of the advice noted in the photo to the left. These Carey’s are time consuming and I find myself frustrated often in the process of polishing the stem.

I knew without looking to deeply at this old pipe that it would be another one that drove me to the edge. The finish on the briar was dull and dirty. There was some interesting grain poking through – birdseye on the sides and cross grain on the back and front. The stamping was very clean and sharp. The rim was crowned and had a significant lava overflow build up on the top. The good thing was that there was no damage to either the inner or outer edge of the rim. The bowl still was half full of unsmoked tobacco but appeared to be heavily caked. It was hard and dense. The stem was a mess. Once I took it off the apparatus extending from the shank there was still a dirty papyrate filter in place on the tube. The inside of the stem was dark and oily. The outside was covered with deep tooth marks and also a generous case of tooth chatter. There was also a gummy substance on the clean top half of each stem that probably came from price tags that were in place at the antique shop where my brother found them.Carey6



Carey7 I took the next two photos to show the set up of the apparatus with the papyrate filter in place and the state of the bowl and the rim.Carey10

Carey11 The lava overflow on the rim took a lot of elbow grease to scrub it clean. I used Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads to scrub it until I had it clean. I wiped down the rest of the bowl with the soap and then rinsed it with running water. I dried of the bowl and then cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol.Carey14

Carey15 With the briar clean and the internals of the bowl and shank clean I gave the bowl a light wipe down with olive oil so that I could see the grain more clearly. I took the next photos to show the beauty of this bowl.Carey16


Carey18 The next photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank. The right side is stamped Grecian.Carey19 I set the bowl aside to work on the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and a fine grit sanding sponge to clean off the tooth chatter and the grime. I wiped it down with alcohol on the outside to prepare it or the repairs on the deep tooth marks. I used black super glue and put drops into the dents, leaving a bubble so that when it dried and shrunk down the dents would be filled and could be sanded.Carey20

Carey21 When the glue dried I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper once again to blend the patches into the surface of the stem.Carey22

Carey23 Before going any further I decided it was time to clean out the inside of the stem. I used cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol to clean out the internals.Carey24 With the inside cleaned and the repairs smoothed out I sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. They removed many of the scratches and the stem was beginning to take shape. I was not getting too excited however as this was when the tedious work really started.Carey25 I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then gave the stem a coat of Obsidian Oil. It does not absorb into the stem material so I use it to give me more bite between the various grit pads of micromesh. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I buffed it lightly with White Diamond and then finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a last coat of oil to wipe down the dust and then hand buffed it.Carey26


Carey28 I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond Polish on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then buffed it by hand with a microfibre cloth. I don’t know how many hours I have in this stem but it certainly seemed to take forever. The bowl cleaned up great and the briar is quite remarkable. The beauty of the grain comes through clearly and the finished pipe looks great. I have two more Carey’s to clean up but I think I will wait awhile to tackle them. This one gets me half way through the lot. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Thanks for looking.Carey29







Carey Magic Inch Freehand Briar Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

In the batch of pipes my brother purchased from an antique shop in Montana for me to clean up was the pipe pictured in the photo below – on its side on the pipe rack on the left of the photo bearing a $19 price tag. Turns out it is a Carey Magic Inch Freehand Pipe. It is stamped on the left side of the shank: Free Hand over Carey over Magic Inch. Underneath that is stamped a PAT. No. 3267941. On the right side it is stamped: Mediterranean over Briar Israel. The stem has three horizontal vents on the top and on the underside of the stem. There is a logo – a C in a box on the top of the stem behind the vents.Carey1 I did some research on the “Magic Inch” System and found out that it has been a Carey’s tradition for over 50 years. On their website they say that they have sold over 1,000,000 pipes. They describe the “Magic Inch” as: “an air chamber inserted between the imported briar bowl and the vented mouthpiece which allows cool outside air to enter and mix with the warm tobacco smoke inside the “Magic Inch” chamber. Tobacco tars, oils and moisture, are squeezed out of the smoke. The residue drops to the bottom of the chamber and is absorbed by the Papyrate sleeve.” http://www.eacarey.com/magicinchinfo.html

They provide the following diagram on their website and I have included it here to show the unique system.Carey2 I found a second diagram on the English Carey website. http://www.eacarey.co.uk/2010/10/the-carey-magic-inch/

I quote from their site as it gives some interesting history on the system: “A Carey pipe looks better and feels better than any ordinary pipe. It also smokes like no other pipe you’ve ever known, and that’s mostly thanks to the patented ‘Magic Inch’, an invention that revolutionised pipe smoking. Designed and patented by EA Carey in 1948 it was the result of a dedicated pipe smoker seeking a cooler, drier smoke whilst not detracting from the fulsome flavour of choice tobaccos. After years of research and the discarding of many ‘good ideas’ Carey settled on the basic design of the system and set about refining that design into the simple but highly effective device that is the basis of Carey Magic Inch pipes over 60 years later. Even today, more than 30 years after it was first introduced into Europe and particularly the UK, we have many seasoned pipesmokers who are still discovering the amazing difference and improvement in smoking pleasure they obtain from the Magic Inch system. It is not a trap or filter or other such sludge forming gadget. In fact, like all great discoveries and inventions, the secret is simple. By cooling, condensing and evaporating moisture with every puff, it prevents the tar, sludge, bite and bitterness that you may find in other pipes, ever reaching your mouth.”

They go on to describe the system in a classically English way: “The system has been designed to allow a precise amount of outside air into each puff of smoke. Unique moisture ports then dissipate wetness, tar and nicotine into the 2 ply Papyrate sleeve, protecting the smoker from unwanted materials. The Papyrate itself provides excellent absorbency for dryer smoking and increased durability. Subsequently the Magic Inch chamber releases moisture through evaporation during resting periods between smokes. Neither a filter nor a standard ‘push bit’, a true innovation.”Carey3 All Carey Magic Inch pipes are made from top quality Mediterranean briar designed, crafted and inspected by experts who take pride in their craft.

With this background information I started to work Carey Magic Inch Freehand that my brother had picked up for me. The bowl was quite clean on the inside – a light cake had formed. The rim had some darkening but was also very clean. The carved patterns on the pipe were very similar to some of the Alpha pipes that also had similar Frankenstein-like stitches on the worm trails carved into the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank. I would not be surprised if it was actually carved in the old Alpha Pipe Factory in Israel. The finish on the pipe was in very good shape and did not need to have anything done to it but clean it. The shank bears the stamping of Israel on the right side. The shape is a block/poker shape that never really was my cup of tea. I always look at them and feel like the carver stopped somewhere along the way and never finished carving the pipe. The rustication on the rim matched that on the shank end. The stem was typical Carey plastic and would be hard to work on. It had tooth chatter on the top and the bottom sides of the stem and some tooth marks that also went onto the button itself.Carey4



Carey7 The next close up photos show the rim and the cake in the bowl as well as the stamping on the sides of the shank.Carey8


Carey10 I took the stem off the pipe to get a picture of the Carey Magic Inch system. The stem sits over a mortise insert with a one inch long perforated tube that extends into the stem when it is in place on the shank.Carey11 The stem was dirty on the inside and the tooth chatter and dents marred the top and bottom sides near the button.Carey13

Carey12 I scrubbed down the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it with lukewarm water. I dried off the bowl exterior with a soft cloth.Carey14




Carey18 I scrubbed out the stem and the shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol until the pipe cleaners and swabs came out clean.Carey19 I find the plastic material used on these stems to be a challenge to clean up and remove the damaged areas. Once it is sanded all of the polishing has to be done by hand. The heat of the buffer pads can seriously damage the stem by melting it. I sanded the tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage. There was one spot on the top of the stem near the button that needed to be patched with clear super glue. It was a deep tooth mark that no amount of sanding would remove.Carey20

Carey21 When the patch cured I sanded it with the 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out with the surface of the stem. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches.Carey22 Normally I wet sand the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads but with this material it only gets muddy and makes a mess. I used some Obsidian Oil to rub down the stem between each pad and sanded it until the scratches began to disappear. I continue the process with 3200-4000 grit pads with the oil between each pad giving me some bite on the plastic stem. I forgot to take a picture of this step (I had already spent over 1 ½ hours on the stem at this point). I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and the oil. When I had finished I rubbed it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.Carey23

Carey24 I hand waxed the bowl and the stem with Conservators wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I finished by buffing it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is cleaned, restored and ready for whoever wishes to purchase it from me. It is not my style of pipe but I am sure it will make some pipe man very happy. Just email me if you are interested and make me an offer at slaug@uniserve.com Thanks for looking.Carey25




Conjuring a Makeover for a Carey Magic Inch

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Photos © the Author

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”
― Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), French Impressionist painter

I suspect there is some aspect of my basic personality that is incapable, to a degree, of not admiring the tenacity alone required to survive 67-years – and still going – in the admirable pursuit of providing affordable smoking pipes. Remember, this is an industry that has seen all manner of fly-by-night systems for dissipating the high heat of the all-important tobacco that has an inherent tendency to become moist and therefore brackish in the process of flowing through the basic designs of all pipes.

Notwithstanding the relative quality of pipes that evolve based on the periodic new patents from the ever-pioneering designers at E.A. Carey, which also owns the Duncan Hill Aerosphere brand, the system’s section that comprises the so-called “Magic Inch” has changed little since 1948, when the first billiard version was created and marketed. The system involves five elements: 1-2) the first two in the double-pronged tenon, the thin, hollow end of which attaches to the plastic bit and the typical part that slides into the shank; 3) the thin bit insert with six small drilled holes, two each on the top and bottom (when properly inserted) and one each on either side; 4) the newer Papyrate II sleeve (two-ply) – made of very thin, wet slices, from the roots of an aquatic plant, that are pressed together and dried – that fits snugly over the holes of the bit insert, and 5) six horizontal slits in the shank end of the bit, three on the top and three on the bottom. The photos of the bit show the used, brownish papyrate sleeve that came with the original pipe.Carey1




Carey5 Back some months when I was snatching up pipe lots online, I bought one with 10 sundry examples of the craft, including a few nice finds such as a Kaywoodie Filter Plus metal pipe from the late 1950s, a Jobey Extra, a nice glazed clay pipe and others, with this Magic Inch among them.Carey6 I put all of these in a small box “for later,” except for the beautiful unknown clay billiard that I cleaned up and added new cork in the shank with a hole drilled to fit the screw-in tenon attached to the acrylic stem, for my own collection.

By the way, not everyone knows that Carey does not only make Magic Inch pipes. Here are a few of the company’s representative standard briar pipes.Carey7 But this blog concerns the vintage Magic Inch billiard, U.S. Patent №. 3,267,941 granted in 1966, shown in the lot above three rows down on the right. A few years ago, I owned, and for a while enjoyed, another Magic Inch, and it wasn’t – well, bad. But first, I have a few comments regarding Carey’s rather imaginative advertising.

Numerical data and the manifold methods of collection, arrangement and interpretation of them for publication as fact by the complex use of statistics in almost every facet of society – including but by no means limited to governmental and other political concerns, businesses and the news media – can be misleading at best and downright manipulative at worst.

Take, for example, the E.A. Carey Smokeshop claim [http://www.eacarey.com/ pipes.html] that it has sold more than one million of its Magic Inch pipes since 1948. That sounds impressive, and suggests that Carey’s pipes are superior to others. But that total averages to 15,152 pipes (rounded up, through 2014) per year. Then again, Carey changes the number of Magic Inch pipes sold in the same period to a vague “hundreds of thousands” [http://www.eacarey .com/magicinchinfo.html]. Allowing for hundreds of thousands to be a maximum of 200,000 pipes, which quite likely is stretching it, the average drops to 3,030. Somehow, I doubt that either annual sales figure engenders any impulse among the world’s other pipe makers to compete with the folks at the venerable Carey Smokeshop online, both in the U.K. [http://www.eacarey. co.uk/] and U.S.

Now, to return to the real subject matter, the purpose of this particular blog is to show how a pipe with a singular lack of attractive qualities can be transformed into something nicer.Carey8


After removing and separating the bit and two-sided tenon, throwing away the old brown papyrate sleeve, on an impulse, I decided to give the old rusticated briar girl an Everclear soak. For some reason, this process took quite a while – say six hours. At any rate, when the old finish was stripped and the wood dried, I began a hand-buff with super fine steel wool followed by a progression of micromesh pads from 1500-3600.

I turned a reamer a few times in the chamber, followed by sanding with 200-grit and 320, and the chamber was almost good to go. Then I attached a suitable stem and retorted the shank and chamber.Carey11





Carey16 Thinking the pipe, which was dreary in the beginning, deserved something more distinctive and in keeping with its natural reddish color, I chose maroon boot stain. After the quick application and flaming, I rubbed the wood gently with 3200 micromesh.Carey17





Carey22 To clean the hollow plastic bit and tenon, I diluted – and I mean heavily – a little Everclear with a lot of water. I like to think of this as the Reverse Julia Childs Approach. The popular cook once said, “I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.” From what I recall of watching Julia in the studio kitchen on TV, I am not surprised that she seemed to have forgotten the apparent equal measures of wine expended in the food and down the hatch. Anyway, I bent a soft pipe cleaner in half and dipped it in the comparatively wimpy solution, which is like comparing wine to Moonshine, and inserted the folded end in the stem, turning it several times and finding it needed replacing. And so I repeated the action, but giving the inner bit the old in-and-out, scrubbing its sides. Only the slightest amount of grime came out on the second run, and I used the same cleaner to work through the slits on the top and bottom. I used a third, dry cleaner to finish.

The outer bit required very little work with one micromesh pad, although I forget the grade, to make it shine. Using a white china marker, I filled in the small, long-empty square with a three-sided C in the middle, forming all but one line of a second square. Thanks to a generous gift of a handful of papyrate sleeves from my good friend and mentor, Chuck Richards, I was able to complete the tenon for ultimate placement into the shank.

All that was left to do was buff the wood on the electric wheels, using white Tripoli and White Diamond, with quick runs on the clean wheel after each. At last, with a finger, I applied a thin, even coat of Halcyon II, and after letting the briar sit for 10-15 minutes, buffed it with the clean wheel.Carey23






Love ’em, hate ’em or really don’t give a hoot either way, the Carey Magic Inch has secured its place in tobacco pipe history, as well as giving many a smoker a start in the pleasures derived from fine tobaccos. And as far as I’m concerned, the Carey system works better than most far more complicated attempts.

Imagine, if you will, a special place in the Twilight Zone – an area so horrific only the most heinous attempts at pipe cooling ever make it there. Take, for example, the following specimen, a Jenkins, which, with its screw designed to hang while smoking like a broken appendage from the underbelly of the shank at a point just before the bowl, may never find its way back.Carey30