[SOLD] '96 Elektra Microcasa a Leva w/ base, extra lever + OEM spring

Postby russel on Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:09 am

I guess this is sort of a soft "For Sale" post. I added a modern chrome MCaL to my bench and I don't really have room for this one anymore. I'm a little ambivalent about selling it, I put a lot a work into restoring it and I kind of like the idea of having a vintage spring next to the modern spring...they're very different. But it seems like every time I manage to clean out some space I just fill it up with new stuff, and my collecting impulse has to be put in its place from time to time (or really whenever possible).

I have completely rebuilt this. I had to tear it down and either descale or joe-glo the heck out of almost every piece. It currently has a paper group/boiler seal, but I also have a new 0 ring as well. I removed the clear coat so that it can be polished properly or left to acquire a nice warm patina - a real patina, not the "patina" that auction site sellers use to refer to wear on the coating. I like it with a patina, mostly because copper pink and brass gold don't go with anything else I own. If the buyer likes it polished, I would be happy to polish it up and then clear coat the drip tray and maybe the steam wand shaft...seems like that would make keeping it shiny easier. It's not in perfect condition, but I would put it at about an 8 out of 10. This is nice machine that has been lived with. Its only real fault is that the boiler cap has lost its plastic outer part and is just the internal metal bit...but I've never felt the need to replace it.

Other stuff: I have a wooden base that was part of the chrome MCaL purchase, but it turns out that I don't have the clearance to use it, and it looks better with the copper and brass machine anyway. I can also include an acceptable wood handled 49mm tamper and an Update milk pitcher with this if that helps sweeten the deal.

Update: I'm now selling this with an extra '96 MCaL lever/piston assembly that has been fitted with a new MCaL spring, and also the vintage spring that was removed. I raised the price to $1000 to cover my cost for the additional parts.

Price: $900$1000
Shipping: Local pickup in Los Angeles, willing to ship at the buyer's expense

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Postby russel on Fri Aug 02, 2013 3:17 pm

I've had a couple people ask about separating the machine from the base. I would be happy to do so:

'96 Brass/Copper MCal, $750 + shipping
Wooden Base, $200 + shipping

Please note that the base really only fits MCaLs with rubber base mats. I does a great job of making those machines (like my '96) super stable. It does not fit or improve the stability of the plastic base MCaL (like the '03 that is replacing the '96).
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Postby homeburrero on Sat Aug 03, 2013 11:09 am

That is a georgous machine, and at a great price. Since I prefer chrome in my kitchen, I probably won't go for yours, but I am curious about your statement:
russel wrote:I kind of like the idea of having a vintage spring next to the modern spring...they're very different.

Other than the stronger spring ( Replacement spring for old Elektra Microcasa a Leva ) are there other important functional differences between the new and the older models?
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Postby russel on Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:57 pm

homeburrero wrote:Other than the stronger spring ( Replacement spring for old Elektra Microcasa a Leva ) are there other important functional differences between the new and the older models?


I was talking mostly about the spring, although the rubber mat, like the La Pavoni rubber mat, does make a big difference in terms of stability. The vintage spring is nothing like the current one. I have a couple of vintage MCAL springs and they require a different set of expectations to use well. The newer machine just sort of slotted in next to my Millenium LP; similar dose, similar grind, somewhat similar tamp/prep. I've tried using the newer MCaL to reproduce the pressure profile of the old one, but at least for me there is no substitute for being forced to make a different type of shot. Call it habit or a subconscious resistance to change or whatever, but the old MCaL demands more from me than I can usually demand from myself.
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Postby russel on Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:10 am

So, this hasn't sold, and I'm now going to do something a little strange...increase the price...

Gary has been work'n hard studying the temp of his MCaL group and now exploring the use of the OEM spring in the vintage lever/piston assembly. I feel a little irresponsible not contributing when I'm in the position to do so, but I have so many projects (9 rebuilds, a mod, and some custom upgrades) and so little time. I'm hoping that someone with a little bit more time would have more to add, so I'm adding a complete MCaL lever/piston assembly to this package. This MCaL now comes with two levers and three springs. There are two original MCaL springs, one with a little bit more oomph than the other, and a new MCaL spring that provides a smooth and strong pressure. You can swap out the lever with the old spring for the lever with the new spring as you see fit in a mater of minutes.

Updated Price: '96 MCaL Copper/Brass w/ vintage spring, Wooden Base, extra lever assembly w/ modern spring, extra vintage spring - $1000 + shipping
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Postby drgary on Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:58 pm

russel wrote:Gary has been work'n hard studying the temp of his MCaL group and now exploring the use of the OEM spring in the vintage lever/piston assembly. I feel a little irresponsible not contributing when I'm in the position to do so.... I'm hoping that someone with a little bit more time would have more to add, so I'm adding a complete MCaL lever/piston assembly to this package. This MCaL now comes with two levers and three springs. There are two original MCaL springs, one with a little bit more oomph than the other, and a new MCaL spring that provides a smooth and strong pressure. You can swap out the lever with the old spring for the lever with the new spring as you see fit in a mater of minutes.

Updated Price: '96 MCaL Copper/Brass w/ vintage spring, Wooden Base, extra lever assembly w/ modern spring, extra vintage spring - $1000 + shipping


Yeah, irresponsible -- so many projects, so little time. :roll: This is actually a better deal than it was before. It allows you to swap spring pressure for different styles of shots. Someone who hasn't had one of these may not know how easy it is to swap out the piston assembly. You undo two hex screws at the top of the group, pump the lever a couple of times and it eases out. To ease it back in just make sure you snug the leading gasket into the cylinder.

About my studying the MCAL here's the short of it. The new spring works great on this vintage of machine. It may compress a bit over time. Think of pump machines where the pump gets weaker. It's like that but simpler. If that happens a replacement spring is less than $20 but you'll need to install it with a clamp that catches the top edges of the lever cap, not just the leading edge. My temperature findings were that temperature really is controlled by boiler pressure, so if you've got your PSTAT set where you want it you're good to go. This also allows you to leave the machine looking pretty without an add-on thermometer mounted wherever you can kludge it on. Just track pressure on the manometer (aka steam gauge). I've got a Teflon gasket installed between the group and boiler, which may make it more temperature stable or not. I'll bet temperature stability has more to do with properly adjusting the PSTAT, which is easily accessible under the base. I've removed the metal plate underneath my base so I take off the rubber mat to get at the PSTAT and then slip it back on. Otherwise I can pull shot after shot in close proximity by rinsing the portafilter under the tap or just take my time prepping the next shot and it's fine. If you want to alternate between very different coffees in one session, just toggle power off and on.

These are well made machines. They consistently pull delicious shots and are strong steamers. And they are so very pretty, especially the brass and copper ones.
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