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La Pavoni RebuildPart one                                                              B13 Homepage

By Bishopthirteen, Winter 07 

I moved my primary residence to the mountains a few years ago and soon discovered the beauty of smaller projects done inside a heated house during winter. So around Halloween I drag my tools into the basement and use the garage for winter storage. I’m finishing my second season structured this way and I like the results.

My first winter project (2006) was rebuilding an Astoria lever machine. The only camera I owned at the time was attached to a cell phone so the pictures were lousy and I only posted a few.

My new Cell Phone has a better camera and I will be taking pictures along the way during my current winter (2007) project.

The goal for this years undertaking is to rebuild one of these neglected beauties.

Stored for quite awhile with full boilers and worked nearly to death as a six group machine, I hope to make ½ this pair young again. I thought about doing parallel restorations but my basement is too small.

After sorting a milk crate of parts included with the machines and confirming I had enough pieces to complete both, I chose the worst of the two for this year’s project. The chosen one is shown with an arrow above.I’m hoping to avoid scavenging one machine to save the other.

Here they are as picked up

Strip down began before bringing the chosen machine to my house ( smaller pieces are easier to carry.)

I did not photo document the disassembly very well because I have an identical model sitting at my shop for reference.

Disassembly was straight forward, no weird components just a huge boiler and my first HX (X3). One item of note is the Aluminum half round boiler end brackets are a nightmare for electrolysis. I guess if you use steel bolts to attach brass and aluminum swearing will result.

Disassembly highlights

Rebuilding components is a favorite restoration step of mine. Breaking the whole “Thing” into sub-groups and working through them individually. After careful inventory off goes the first parts order and cleaning begins.  I’ve always coveted E61 style groups and now have three on my bench I’m in restoration heaven!

After cleaning and re-assembly

I cannot get a bolt out that is holding the plastic handle onto one of the portafilters. It looks to have been a problem for years and someone tried every tool they had. I’ll get back to it later and make it the current “Cold group” (furthest from the heating element) portafilter, it works but it is loose.

Unlike the drama free group rebuilds the steam valves/wands took a different path. I like this style of espresso machine because it is lacking the big overhang covering the group and steam/water valves. To me it is a more classic look and everything is sticking off the front, exposed for my visual enjoyment you might say. Therefore I was disappointed to discover the steam valves were injured. I think the rubber valve seats had been leaky for a very long time causing prolonged over-tightening by the baristas.

Compare the unbent end-thread on the stem to the rest.

This is a good illustration of a small problem left unfixed causing bigger more expensive ones. It’s not a big deal, the parts were in stock and reasonably priced, but…the replacement part is only available in brass, damn, I hate that.

It may not be noticeable as they are hidden under the knobs however I think they were chrome for a reason. It is a pretty steamy environment they live in; I’ll plate them later if function degrades.

I dropped off the frame and other bits for powder coating yesterday, it should have happened months ago but I became distracted by two other espresso related “winter projects”. I’ll start final assembly in a few weeks when the parts are back and will follow-up then.

Writing this is getting me excited again; a fun part is coming! Not the best part, that’s pulling shots but final assembly is great. I skipped talking about; all the tedious cleaning steps, various upgrade ideas and research, body/frame color debate, remote pump acquisition, etc. That stuff is finished for this machine, just bolting clean pieces together with new gaskets, cleaning up the wiring and flipping a switch remains. OK, now that I’ve cursed the project be prepared for some major disaster like ruptured HX’s or fried auto level box to manifest. Why do I always tempt fate?