Blog by Steve Laug
Jeff picked up this tall Morta stack from a group of pipes that we purchased recently. It is a nice looking Morta with interesting grain and well cut. It has a Cumberland stem with an inlaid briar circle on the left side of the taper. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank and read 2018 next to the shank/stem junction. Beneath that it was stamped Moretti. The pipe was dirty with grime and dust in the finish of the sides and rim top. There is a medium cake in the bowl but no lava overflow onto the beveled rim top. The beveled inner edge and the outer edge both looked to be in excellent condition. The Cumberland stem was oxidized and there were light tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the stem on both sides ahead of the button. Otherwise it is a clean looking stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff took photos of the rim top from various angles to show the condition of the bowl and rim as I described above. The finish is in good condition under the grime. The beveled inner and outer edges of the rim look very good under the thick cake and light lava overflow. There do not appear to be any nicks of dents in the top of the rim. He took photos of the sides of the bowl showing the grain of the Morta wood. The pipe has some of the interesting grain patterns that Morta wood has on the sides.Jeff took two photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is very readable but trying to capture it on the dark Morta and on the curve of the shank was difficult. It reads 2018 (year of manufacture?) and under that Moretti. He also took a photo of the inlaid briar circle on the left side of the stem which is a trademark of Moretti pipes. He took photos of the stem to show the oxidation and the calcification, tooth marks and chatter on both sides.I turned to Pipephil’s site to see if I could find out information on the Moretti brand and specifically a Morta pipe (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m7.html#moretti). The listing included the name of the pipe maker, Marco Biagini. The brand is named after his father-in-law, Igino Moretti. This pipe was carved in 2018 and does not bear the Recanati stamping that was on his pipe until 2005. There was no direct information on the Morta pipe on my table.I turned to Pipedia to gain additional information on the brand. (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Moretti). There were some informative articles written by Joseph Hornsby and Fred Hanna. They are worth the read if you want some background and gain appreciation for the carver.
With a clearer picture of the pipe maker in mind I turned to work on this pipe. Jeff had done a great job in cleaning up this pipe. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took back the thick cake to the walls of the bowl. He also scraped off the lava and grime on the rim. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and rinsed it off with warm running water. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked it in Before & After deoxidizer and rinsed it clean after wards I took some photos of the pipe as I saw it. It was a very different piece of wood than the briar I usually work on. To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top looked really good and the beveled inner edge of the bowl has all of the lava removed. The Cumberland stem looks very good. The surface and the button edge appear to be in good condition. There were some small tooth marks and chatter on both sides but it looked good.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It looks a lot better. You can see the stamping and it is readable – 2018 over Moretti.I took the stem off the pipe and took a photo to show the shape of the stack – it is a tall pipe and the Cumberland stem works very well with the dark Morta bowl.My part of this restoration was quite simple as the bowl was in great condition after Jeff’s cleanup work. I moved straight to working some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I had never used the Balm on Morta but I figured it was worth a try. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. The Balm did its magic here as well. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I also sanded out the light tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the Cumberland stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper by sanding the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to begin the polishing of the Cumberland.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the some of the scratching at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece from my sanding and polishing. I buffed the stem with a microfiber cloth.I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I wiped it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and set it aside to dry. Once more I am happily on the homestretch with this pipe and I really look forward to the final look when it is put back together and polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The tall Morta bowl really looked good with the polished streaked Cumberland. This 2018 Morretti Stack was a fun pipe to work on. The combination of red and black in the Cumberland stem material goes really well with black of the Morta. It is a comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it. Let me know if you want me to put it aside for you. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.