Wow, someone named Brad Hamilton decided to close this thread, this was not a Van's bashing, and I wanted to publicly respond to Greg, so here it is....
"Thanks for the response Greg, I appreciate and understand everything you have stated. I trust Van's beyond any other manufacturer I can think of, so the bottom line is.....c'est la vie
I have already ordered the replacement pipe as I'm in the middle of my annual. Thanks again for the detailed explanation. Paul"
[ed. Brad Hamilton was a character in the movie 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High', and I closed the thread - had run its course. v/r,dr]