Well, this has been the strangest pipe experience I've yet had. I decided to send it to Briarville because I just didn't want to deal with shipping it overseas. Rich at Briarville called me and was very polite and helpful. The cost for a new stem is very reasonable, so I requested two...a vulcanite for regular use, and since those are only in black I also wanted an acrylic in the original blue color so I could still approximate the original look of the pipe if I ever wanted to...and also as a backup in case I ever need another new stem for it.
When I received the invoice after a couple of days it included a charge for shank repair with nickel band. I replied asking if this was a mistake because there was no shank damage and I had not requested any such repair. Rich explained that he discovered a hairline crack that was not easily seen...and so just went ahead and repaired it.
I know for certain I did not do anything with the pipe that would have caused this...the stem cracked while clenching...it was never dropped or anything. Rich said Morta cracks easily. It may have been there from the start and I didn't notice it. I replied that if I had known this type of repair was needed I would not have ordered the acrylic stem. To his credit, Rich said he refunded the second stem price but included it in the order anyway free of charge. I wasn't expecting that but thanked him and let him know it was much appreciated.
Below is the final result with the acrylic stem attached, which as you can see is not even close to the original color LOL...so now I'm glad I wasn't charged for it. To be fair, I did say it didn't need to be a perfect match, just close...but I can't consider that to be close.
Anyway...my Morta itch is now permanently scratched...I will not be buying another...but hopefully this one will be ok now. The upside of the nickel band is it will look ok with the black stem now.
View attachment 190033