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Go Back   Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums > Great Highland Bagpipe > Technique & Instrument
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Technique & Instrument Related to techniques, to the instrument, to the components, to maintenance.

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Old 08-27-2008, 11:42 AM   #1
MichaelR.S.
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Default How well do ABW pipes age?

While the title question speaks for itself, I guess I could expand on that by asking; How high maintenance are ABW pipes?

And, as they age, is there much danger of them cracking from that age/dryness?

Or is that only something you have to worry about if you store them exposed and ignored for 5 years in your barn's hay loft in North Dakota?





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Old 08-27-2008, 11:55 AM   #2
bugz
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Default Re: How well do ABW pipes age?

The founder of my pipe band has a set that has been in his family that were played at Waterloo - they have been well maintained.

Extremes of temperture variation - like 5 years in a N. Dakota hayloft, will probably reduce them to kindling.

Store pipes in conditions that you find comfortable for youself. If you wouldn't like sitting where your pipes are stored for any length of time, don't store them there.
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Old 08-27-2008, 11:56 AM   #3
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Default Re: How well do ABW pipes age?

Even stored that way, they'd probably hold up...until someone decided to play them instantly!

But seriously, well-cured and treated ABW is remarkably durable. Think in terms of all the conditions posters describe they're playing: Rain, snow, bone-chilling temps, extreme heat of summer, and so forth. And as long as they're not subjected to rapid changes in such, they're astounding in that they just don't explode.

They don't require coddling; but treated well, ABW pipes have proven to last a long time, indeed.
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Old 08-28-2008, 05:23 AM   #4
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: How well do ABW pipes age?

in the late 70's I bought a set of full ivory Hendersons that were played in WWI. The owner emmigrated to California after the war and died in 1928.

When I saw the pipes, it was explained to me by the man's daughter that the pipes had been sitting undisturbed in the garage since 1928 in the case WITH THE LID OF THE CASE OPEN.

The temperature in that garage must have reached well over 100 degrees at times, and been near freezing at times.

The pipes were in perfect condition, no warping or cracks whatsoever.

However the portion of the ivory which had been facing upwards had turned a deep orange colour, while the portion of the ivory facing downwards was pristine white. Once polished up these mounts certainly had an interesting look.

I used to play very old- c1850- Glens. The bass drone stock had 17 cracks in it. I counted. So what? The pipes played great.
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Old 08-28-2008, 05:50 AM   #5
JRM
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Default Re: How well do ABW pipes age?

African blackwood has been in popular use by pipe makers for over 100 years. Many sets have survived intact, some have not. Use, and abuse will be a key element in determining the longevity of the instrument. The age, density, growth ring density of the tree's that it comes from, and the conditions they grew in will be the other deciding factor. Old growth vs new growth, climatic changes.....big difference in the density of the tree rings from decade to decade, century to century.
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Old 08-28-2008, 10:46 AM   #6
ratherbpiping
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Default Re: How well do ABW pipes age?

Mine have been very low maitenance. They have gone through years of storage and little care taken to reactivate them. I did have the blow stock split. However, more mature comon sense tells me that it is better to avoid splitting than repair splitting so error on the safe side and reactivate them with patience. Probably not best to subject them to too much moisture too soon.

I assume the barns hay loft in North dakoda is at best minimally heatd. They may be subject to freezer burn so be careful.

I don't know if oiling is a good Idea, I have heard that it can cause cracks if there is too much absorbtion too fast but I seldom oil my pipes and never stored them in a hay loft.

I would think the best you cn do is bring them in from the barn, expose them to more normal ambient conditions for a few weeks, before playing them. Then gradually bring them back to life by starting at say 15 minutes a day and gradually building up.

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Old 08-28-2008, 10:57 AM   #7
MichaelR.S.
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Default Re: How well do ABW pipes age?

Bugz says:
"Store pipes in conditions that you find comfortable for youself. If you wouldn't like sitting where your pipes are stored for any length of time, don't store them there. [/quote]


In other words, treat then like I would treat my dogs (whom I love very much). Sounds reasonable.

Thanks to you ALL for your time and opinions. This all helps me in my quest/decision to get either Delrin ("plastic") pipes or save a little longer and spend the extra bucks for a set of ABW. Which, based on everthing I've herd here and on two other threds I set up for this purpose, I am now leaning to (the ABWs that is).

Remember, not only do you help me here, but also the many others who may have these same questions. So your advice is not just wasted on one guy in the here and now.

OMG! I just realized. If I finally do decide to go with ABW, I then have to decide which ABWs (maker/brand) to go with . Oh jeeez! :







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Old 08-28-2008, 12:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: How well do ABW pipes age?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelR.S.
OMG! I just realized. If I finally do decide to go with ABW, I then have to decide which ABWs (maker/brand) to go with . Oh jeeez! :
I'm sure no one will have an opinion on that...



I had been thinking of Delrin, but I went with ABW for three reasons:

1) I decided I really like the way wood looks and feels better than plastic. That's the main one.

2) Some people view plastic drones with contempt. Perhaps the same way some people view cotton twill kilts. I generally don't care what people think (generally being the operative word).

3) I thought about all the pipers who took wooden pipes all over the world, and the conditions they've been subjected to. I decided I really wasn't going to worry about it too much.

Now that I'm thinking about it, #1 and #2 have a certain relationship. People who advocate cotton twill kilts usually bring up maintenance &c. in their reasoning, much like the people who advocate delrin. Nothing wrong with that. Here's where it gets interesting. The people who argue against cotton twill kilts usually do so on the basis of tradition and aesthetics. Thinking along those lines would seem to apply to bagpipes just as well as kilts. That is: it's traditional to play a pipe with wooden drones.

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Old 08-28-2008, 04:12 PM   #9
ratherbpiping
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Default Re: How well do ABW pipes age?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelR.S.
OMG! I just realized. If I finally do decide to go with ABW, I then have to decide which ABWs (maker/brand) to go with . Oh jeeez! :
Yes, This is a good reason to select ABW!
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Old 08-28-2008, 06:22 PM   #10
Shawn Husk
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Default Re: How well do ABW pipes age?

Mike, as far as maintenance for ABW goes.....here's my personal opinion.

If you decide to get a new set of ABW pipes, I would highly recommend that you oil them about twice a year. Keep them from getting too hot or cold, or too moist or dry. If you do that and you don't knock them around too much they should last you the rest of your life and all of your children's lives.

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